About Sophie

Hello!

I am an award-winning artist specialised in portraiture and textiles in oils and pastel. My work has been exhibited at shows like the BP Portrait Awards, the Pastel Society and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Collectors are found in Europe as well as the US.  My work is inspired by art history, especially the Dutch and English 17th century old masters. I love depicting textiles such as lace and velvet as well as creating evocative portraits. 

I have always loved the arts; painting, drawing, fashion and ballet were my greatest interests as a kid. I was born (1974) and grew up in The Netherlands but now live in England.

Art History

After I enrolled at university in Amsterdam to study the history of art and architecture my academic interests really got going. As I loved the research side of my university years I stayed on after my Masters to do a Ph.D in (English Baroque) architectural history.

Diving and digging into the past, looking for clues as to how people saw art, buildings, or fashion is fascinating, not only because it gives us an insight into our past, but also because it puts our own modern passions, interests and obsessions into perspective. Why ever wonder what the point is of learning history?  It couldn’t be more relevant in order to try and make sense of today.

During my Ph.D years I regularly travelled to the United Kingdom where I met my (now) husband. I ended up staying in this beautiful country of hobbits and Hawksmoor, Tudors and tea. Having children made me leave academia and pick up my paint brushes (whenever they let me) and things progressed from then onwards. I learned through perseverance, joy and the huge internet community of artists, a community I am still part of and learn from every day.

Portraits

Ever since I was little I enjoyed drawing people; portraiture is now one of my main painting topics. it is endlessly fascinating to paint the human face. I do not fool myself in thinking I can paint the inner deeper soul of someone (not even myself) but I paint what I see in the best way I can. I plan out a painting in mood, lighting, colouring and compostion in the hope of evoking certain associations. Still, people often see things in my paintings I never thought of. Again, the human face has endless sides to it and it is a fantastic subject to explore in paint. ( Explore my portraiture work)

Fabrics

My love for fashion and the theatre has led me to explore fabrics in paint. Not only do I savour the technical challenge of getting the viewer to ‘feel’ the textures of these fabrics, but I am keen to show you their beauty and their history. Fabrics are so closely intertwined with our culture, our place in it, and how we see the world. Historic pieces can transport us back in time and tell us a story long forgotten. I cannot think of something more full of stories, history and associations than fabrics. (Explore my fabrics work)

 

Exposure

My portraiture and textile paintings have been exhibited and collected throughout Europe and the US. I have been lucky to have exhibited my work with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Pastel Society, and Manchester Art Gallery amongst many other locations (see for a more comprehensive list my CV below). Solo shows at the Harley Gallery and Catto Gallery in London were a highlight as well.

Commissions

I have painted many private children and baby portraits on commission, as well as adults and pets. Some were exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition. A notable public commission was a portrait of the retiring head mistress of Wycliffe College in Stroud, Mrs Margie Burnet Ward, which now hangs in the college hall.  Find out more about commissioning a painting)

BP Portrait Award

In 2013 a self portrait was accepted into the prestigious BP Portrait Award. I won the BP Travel Award for my proposal to study how lace was depicted in early 17th century portraiture. A series of new works resulted from this project which was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2014. A  companion book was for sale in the National Portrait Gallery shop as well as online. It was a great honour to have one of my self portraits from this series exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery alongside the self portrait (1640) of Flemish old master Anthony van Dyck,  in an exhibition on self portraiture. ( Find out more about the BP Travel Award)

Publications

Artists and Illustrators Magazine

My work has been extensively published in art magazines such as Artists & Illustrators Magazine, American Art Collector, The Pastel Journal as well as books such as 500 Portraits: 25 Years of BP Portrait Award. I have also recently written an article for an American dog magazine about dogs in Dutch 17th century genre paintings.

I love showing history through textiles and portraiture and get my inspiration especially from the Dutch and English 17th century. It is the best feeling in the world when one of my paintings hits a note with a viewer, or perhaps even bring a tear to the eye. What better job than to be able to touch people’s hearts. Sometimes a bit of coloured gloop can create magic. I’ll keep trying to reach that goal.

Please do get in touch if you are interested in any of my paintings, commissions, workshops, demonstrations, talks or freelance writing jobs.

Sophie Ploeg, National Portrait Gallery, BP Portrait Award
Sophie Ploeg explaining her work and inspiration at the National Portrait Gallery in London, BP Portrait Award 2014.


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