Sarah Ellen Reay
Western Artist
Artist Statement
HC3 Box 670G,  4305 E Highway 260 Suite 4 Payson, AZ 85541 
602-361-5379      email:

Studio hours by Appointment only

In a world filled with very talented artists I hope that my art stands out not only for it’s technical merit and beauty, but because it tells a story in each piece. As a Western Artist, I hope to reach my audience by celebrating the romance, whimsy, awe-striking beauty, and unique narratives and cultures that carved out their lives in this rugged land. As an avid traveler and hiker through the Southwest, I witness such amazing yet fleeting moments of beauty, it brings me great joy to be able to convey some permanence to those moments by interpreting them onto my canvases.

After traveling East, and studying and admiring the art of the great landscape painters of the European Romantic period and Hudson River School and then comparing their works to the first great Western landscape painters, I was struck by the difference in atmosphere and light that we get to experience in the West. Our dry air and abundant sunshine opens our scope to such vivid colors and detailed vistas that stretch for miles and miles. This experience is often obscured in Eastern depictions. So in my art, the vivid use of color, and detailed yet whimsical renderings of our rustic surroundings are engrained into each painting. I believe the warmth and vitality in this use of color speaks also to the strong, enduring character of the cultures of Cowboys, Pioneers, and Native Americans that have lived and thrived under our often-times harsh sun. 

Since I paint in a variety of mediums, but was trained first as a Watercolorist, I love to use layer upon layer of glazes to develop very dark, yet detailed areas of my paintings, because by juxtaposing the deep shadows, light and its warmth abound. I use primarily very small brushes so that I first focus on the detail, and then through glazing, I can obscure the areas that should recede from the viewer.  Through the highlights, I can draw my audience into the painting and point out where I want them to focus, much like the rays of light that radiate from the extraordinary sunsets of our region.

I have always had an optimistic sense of romance to both my personal character and art, and I believe that is why I have been so drawn to the Western genre. By celebrating the West visually, I long to hold on to the stories, the values, and the strength that built this land, and speak to the American Spirit, and its universal themes of hope, beauty,  and life that finds a way to thrive in even the harshest of conditions.

Sarah Ellen Reay, Flowing Springs on the East Verde River
Payson, AZ
Reay Ranch in the 1950's