Sarah Manning: Controlled Chaos in Paint

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Acrylic Paintings

Mississippi native and graphic designer Sarah Manning escapes the chaos and anxiety of the outside world through her acrylic paintings.

Sarah paints using bold colors and a variety of scrapers and palette knives, applying layer after layer of paint onto her canvas. This extreme textural approach seems to almost mimic the raw characteristics of nature, which can be easily seen in this first painting, entitled Unearthed.


Rustic brown and burgundy hues, combined with Sarah’s texture, create the look of overturned soil toward the center of the painting. And at the same time, within the sod-encrusted depths of the earth lie bright traces of life—green plants springing forth from the ground.

Stripped Chaos on the other hand pairs a linear design with (mostly) cheerful colors, both of which balance each another wonderfully.

You’ll notice that behind the light-hearted seafoam green and white layers lies a darker component of indigo and black, barely exposed, and possibly ominous. It gives me the feeling that many complex emotions and thoughts may have played a part in the creation of this painting.

Stripped Chaos

Perhaps each layer represents a different side of the artist—chaos she hopes to hide from, alongside a sense of happiness. Or perhaps these layers define the quintessential battle between good and bad.

Lastly, Stained reminds me immediately of a brick wall that has been painted over, and yet eventually wears through after the passage of hundreds of years.


The yellow-orange layer of paint almost seems to be fighting to contain a jumble of uncontrollable color. These two prominent elements give the painting its depth and dynamic appeal, superficially working against each other, and yet on a deeper level working together for that end result.

Don’t hesitate to check out the rest of Sarah’s work, which includes some smaller abstract pieces as well as her graphic design, by visiting her website.


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