the Past is my Paint Box
Taking a moment to listen to the stillness of time, imagining the story behind that woman’s face or that piece of antique lace: in my paintings I search for that universal thread that runs throughout the human story.
I try to create a vision of our world that seeks to make connections, enhance authenticity and understanding.
My art is not nostalgic or sentimental but a unique blend of my world and a selective take on the past. I reach back in time and pull out what inspires me and embed it into my own world today. I use the past as my paint box: I choose my colours and mix them up until I have created something new.
I paint portraits and still life in oils and pastel.
My paintings are characterised by their stillness and calm atmosphere, their strong use of light and shade, and high level of detail.
I was born (1974) and grew up in The Netherlands but have lived in England for nearly 20 years. After I enrolled at university in Amsterdam to study architectural history and philosophy, 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.
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 and a less than perfect health made me leave academia and pick up my paint brushes 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.
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I am often told "You are so normal!" (which I take as a compliment) as I aim to break down the myths of painting through my teaching and writing. Although the mystical art world has its charms it does no painter any good in believing you shouldn't use black or you have to use solvents. Nor are we all bohemian creatures living off our inspiration alone. I teach in order to 'keep it real'.
Practical skills are super important in being able to create your own visual world in paint. I teach and write about art in order to give others the opportunity too.
I can't speak too highly of Sophie Ploeg's blog. She gives detailed, sensible, and comprehensive accounts of materials, tools, and a wide range of practical art-making information. Do visit it.
John Shakespeare, artist
As Seen at....
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 ).
In 2013 I won the BP Travel Award at the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. A series of new works was subsequently exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. Solo shows at the Harley Gallery and Catto Gallery in London were a highlight as well.
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. My writing has appeared in Artists & Illustrator’s Magazine, Jackson’s Blog and other publications. I do most of my writing on my blog which now reaches around 7 thousand visitors a month and is growing consistently.
Collectors purchase my work via galleries, exhibitions, directly via my studio or online.
Sophie’s playful use of costume places her work in a borderland, one that juxtaposes modern dress and vintage lace, everyday faces and imagined characters of the past, classical appearance and modern technique.
(Artists & Illustrators Magazine, 2016)
Ever since I saw your beautiful oil portraits (at Haynes Galleries in Nashville, TN) of The Snowflake Children and the one with the Roses tapestry, I have wished to learn more about your style of painting oil portraits and drawing (or pastel portraits). Thank you!
(a happy fan)