Category: Art

Art and Escapism

So, since updating my artist statement the other month; it got me thinking about my vision and what my art is truly about. I really got to thinking about WHY I create. There’s one thing which comes up again and again; and that is ESCAPISM.

So I thought I’d elaborate a little on this topic. A huge part of why I have always created is to escape from negative emotions or boredom and when I was younger this was very much the case as I struggled a lot with depression. I would come home from school and immediately get my pens out and start drawing to forget about the day. 

I certainly don’t feel like that anymore but it’s still an escape. It has the ability to calm me down and put me into a meditative state but at the same time energise. Although I’m happy with my life now (most of the time) I still need that time to get into the zone and just be at one with creating.

Digital art of abstract floating landscape by Sara Houqe

I use images from nature a lot on my work as for me its the ultimate escapism. Having lived most of my life in fairly built up areas, I love to get out into nature and experience the calm sanctuary it has to offer. There’s so much beauty and variety out there to experience. 

I like to mix these images with abstract and colourful elements which give them their dream like quality. This is the basis for my new series of prints. Dream like landscapes which float in peaceful skies. 

It’s a place to escape, relax, and experience the wondrous.

Abstract landscape floating on pink clouds by Sara Hoque

I also want YOU, the viewer to feel the same way as I do when I’m creating my art. To feel that you have a place to dream, a sanctuary, an escape. 

Waterfall landscape collage floating on blue skies by Sara Hoque

Digital influences in my work

Since art school, digital image has informed a lot of my work. The relationship between digital image and more traditional forms of art is one that interests me greatly. The first time I experienced digital art was through photography when I was given a DSLR at art college. The photographing part was not of that much interest to me but I was amazed at how much could be done with an image when its uploaded to the computer.  

Photograph of purple sky by Sara Hoque

Above is a photograph from 2009 of the sky with the silhouette of a tree. I’ve always enjoyed altering natural colours found in the world so that everything looks more saturated and surreal. Digital images have always been an influence and part of my work. I keep an archive of photographs I use for inspiration which are mainly images from nature, but also architecture and science! During art school I started experimenting with moving image by manipulating photographs in a way which created kaleidoscopic visuals. 

Above is a still from one of these moving image pieces. My paintings at the time also adopted a very kaleidoscopic composition to them as I became interested in geometry. The painting below ‘Delphelia Elpenor’ 2013, is a combination of a collaged image and painting. This relationship between digital elements and the act of painting is something I really enjoy.

I’ve also incorporated these geometric elements into my paintings like the oil painting of a stone circle below. I like playing around with these elements and switching and combining the two mediums. It keeps it fun and interesting! If I’m lacking in inspiration its quick and easy for me to create a digital composition, and not have to worry too much about what I’m doing as mistakes are easily erased. Below are some more examples, oldest to newest- see if you can guess which parts are collage/digital and which are hand painted 🙂

Colourful painting of stone boulders and mountains with colourful abstract shapes by Sara Hoque 2017
Pastel abstract painting with bold brushstrokes and architecture collage Sara Hoque 2018
Sand dune image with bright paint marks by Sara Hoque 2020
Colourful psychedelic painting by Sara Hoque

Evolution of my practice

Earlier this year I was compiling all the images for my portfolio, which on my website goes back to 2017. That’s when I feel like I developed a certain ‘style’. Of course I have lots of work which came before that, but a lot of it is hard to access or I wouldn’t dare show the world. I think we’ve all had a lot of time for reflection this year and the majority of mine has been on my art practice. So I want to talk about how my art has developed over the years. 

I want to share this with you as I think its important to recognise the journey an artist takes to get to where they are. Sometimes it can take a long time for a ‘style’ to develop and sometimes our style is continuously changing and evolving.


My earliest work was very lacking in colour- during my angsty teenage I years I very much created as an expression of what I was feeling and as a form of therapy. When I started my BTEC in art and design (pre university) I felt immediately compelled to find my art voice. It was my first time setting foot in an art establishment and I think I felt I needed to prove myself. 

This was also the moment I discovered contemporary art which had a big impact on my style. Conceptual art really captured my attention and my work went from being quite figurative and depicting emotion to being visual representations about ideas. The fact that art didn’t need to be true depictions of object and feeling really set me free.

My art became very minimal and I shifted away from painting into other mediums like sculpture, film and photography. This saw me through to my first year of University. I really felt like my work needed to have some profound meaning to be considered ‘real art’ and in a way I think this is quite damaging. My work became even darker as I became interested in philosophy and my creations were often accompanied by text.


My second year of uni brought about a couple of changes in my work. The first being my shift towards using colour- a huge turning point in my life and practice. I noticed my mood lifting as I begun to use vibrant hues in my painting; this sparked my interest in art and the effects it has on our mood. I started questioning myself and my art. Why did I feel like my art needed to have so much meaning?

I experimented with creating art which just made you ‘feel’ using mainly colour and pattern; avoiding the need for ‘deep thinking’. Through moving image and painting I made pieces which were either designed to play with your emotions.

In the end I just wanted to make stuff that looked nice, but I found that people will always try and find meaning within art. The topic of my dissertation was ‘Apophenia: Seeking connections and order in chaos’. Apophenia refers to the human tendency to find meaning in everything, and the work I submitted along with my dissertation experimented with hinting at ideas through the use of image and symbols.


After graduating I worked in an art shop where I learnt more about materials than I had done at University. So I was very much just creating art for fun. I’d lost my studio space so my work became a mix of digital and smaller mixed media pieces.

Whilst trying out new mediums my interest in abstracts started. I was cutting up a lot of old work and playing with colour and image. It became a very experimental phase and I kind of gave up a bit on becoming an artist.

My desire to do something with my art but also make some money lead me to start ‘Brush + Botany’ a business based on using colour and plants for personal wellbeing. I found it too restricting and realised that it was important for me to create work under my own name.


I definitely feel like I had to cycle through this whole process to get to where I am now. I struggled a lot to find my place in the art world but at the end of the day it all came down to being authentic and true to myself. 

I’ve placed myself somewhere in between the two extremes I was battling with in the past- art which is all about the concept and art which is just pretty to look at. 

I now understand why art and becoming the best you can be is such a lengthy process. I’m sure in another 10 years I would have developend so mucvh morew and I cant wait to see hwere my jpourmney takes me.