The artist Sarah Spackman is dressed in a navy canvas jacket, jeans and DMs, her glasses hiding a pertinent pair of eyes, totally absorbed in the task in hand – that of carrying her paintings being exhibited in her solo show From Where I Stand at Sarah Wiseman Gallery, into their temporary home.

They have taken two years to paint – an experience that Sarah has enormously enjoyed, yet while she is happy to talk about her work and life up to this point, there is a briskness to her answers, almost an impatience, as if she can’t understand what the fuss is all about. Isn’t is obvious what she’s doing, how she crafted her paintings and their core themes of clarity, logic and order, doesn’t her obsession with colour shine through?

She laughs when I mention this and says that since teaching at Sunningwell School of Art  where she teaches workshops and life drawing, she has got much better at talking about her work and listening, understanding that her world is not as transparent as it may seem, before adding: “It’s just part of you. I don’t think of it as a job.”

“finding your own voice takes time – to work out what you are really interested in and focus on that”

That is not to deter from her intense compulsion to paint still lives by encapsulating the very hue that exists naturally, to try to represent exactly what she sees in front of her through colour.

“I mix paint all day, that’s what I do“ she shrugs. “I can spend a whole day mixing yellow paint. And while I think that is perfectly normal, for other people it might seem odd.

“That’s why I love my studio so much. I can just shut the door and get on with what I need to do, what I love. I can spend hours just arranging an apple.”

Sarah Spackman with Sarah Wiseman

This will be her fourth solo show at Sarah Wiseman Gallery, as well as a joint exhibition with the ceramist Linda Bloomfield, and yet none of the excitement of the experience has dissipated over time.

“It’s still as energising as the first time. I have been involved with a few other exhibitions this year” she pauses. “and I was privileged to be elected as a member of the RBA (Royal Society of British Artists) so I had to present paintings for that, but yes this exhibition at The Sarah Wiseman Gallery has rather absorbed me,” she smiles at the understatement. “But it’s good to have a deadline.”

Her studio on Edith Street in Oxford is a  sanctuary where she can concentrate in peace and quiet. So did she make 31 works on purpose? “No, it’s not a numbers game but it does focus you. These are just the ones I was happy with,” she says looking around her.

“It’s nice to be working towards a solo show though, rather than a few bits her and a few bits there. Not many galleries do them any more. It means you can get a good body of work together.

“But I don’t work very fast, so two years was about right.”

So where does Sarah start with an exhibition of this magnitude? “I just see something and really want to paint it. We grow a lot of stuff at the allotment so it tends to be an organic form.

“I do raid things as well,” she smiles. “I was at a garden party recently and fell in love with a plum on a tree. I asked if I could come back with my secateurs and cut it, to paint. They said yes luckily.”

“So it’s about creating a form in space and trying to create that form through colour, so that’s really important – how form works in the space and making them work together. To find the first thing that people react to when they see something.

“The colour needs to be really clean, by mixing it right, not copying exactly but recreating what’s in front of you and trying to find something that will work by creating the form on the canvas.

“It’s about the relationship between the colours, tones and the space, so my days are quite quiet and contemplative.”

Sarah paints several canvases at once, as the light changes around her studio.

“Not that every experiment works,” she chuckles. “You can never tell. Some days are great, others aren’t. It makes me admire painters who always get something down, because you can’t assume that something will happen. But the painting happens at the same time. It’s drawing with colour really.”

She doesn’t come from a particularly artistic family, but it’s always been about art for her. Even at Camberwell she was an observational painter.

“It just suits me very well because every day is different. In my last exhibition it was all about the oranges, this time it’s peonies, because really you are trying to work something out. So things do emerge as a series, whether you are aware of it at the time or not. 

“So yes fairly obsessional really,” another wry smile of acknowledgement. “Because when it’s on the canvas that’s it, you can’t play around with it or you’ll ruin it, that’s why I mix my palette so carefully, because it’s lovely when you get it right.

“I’ve got a painting of a piece of cheese here somewhere, which I’m really happy with,” she adds looking at the canvases stacked up waiting to be hung, “It’s a really good feeling.

Sarah credits much of her success to her old mentor William Desmond. “I took my work in to see him when I graduated, and he told me I wasn’t ready yet and to come back in a year, which I did and it just went from there really. I was quite happy to be guided by him.”

Supporting herself by working in pubs and shops “enabled me to live and carry on painting. I never wanted to do anything else so it never bothered me, having to sustain myself, because finding your own voice takes time – to work out what you are really interested in and focus on that.

When not painting and knocking plums off her neighbour’s trees, Sarah loves music and is in a band. “We only play for charities, that sort of thing,” she says, uncharacteristically coyly. “Otherwise we get together at each others houses. We call it ‘slow Wednesdays’ and usually play after too much wine.”

So does she care what people think of her work then? “I do yes. It’s fantastic that people like what you do and want to put your work on their walls. It’s important to me.

“And painting is quite a solitary act so it’s nice to come to the opening night and have a chat with people and see their responses to the exhibition, to reconnect with people and I love working with Sarah Wiseman Gallery. They are very supportive.”

From Where I Stand – Sarah Spackman – is at Sarah Wiseman Gallery from Saturday until September 28.