Inspired by the past
I love how history can put things in perspective and in my paintings I aim to celebrate the great human story we are all part of.
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. 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 over 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 art history (English Baroque architecture and Rhetorical Theory).
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 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.
Pay it Forward
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'.
Sophie's Art School
Practical skills are very 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. In my online art school I teach the fundamental skills of painting: shape, form, value, colour, composition, etc. These skills can be applied in any medium, painting any topic. My flagship course, The Pastel Place, takes the student on a deep-dive journey through soft pastel. Oil painting courses show how you can paint without using toxic materials. I hope to pass on techniques and skills I have learned over the years. In Sophie's Art School I offer a variety of online course, online group workshops, tutorials, articles and a private community for all students. After teaching workshops ‘in real life’ for a few years all my teaching now happens online. ‘Sophie’s Art School’ has been up and running in its current form since 2019 and is growing all the time.
I do most of my writing on my blog which now reaches around 20 thousand visitors a month and is growing consistently. There are well over 250 articles on painting, art materials, art history, exhibition and book reviews, product reviews and so much more.
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 ).
BP Travel Award
In 2013 I won the BP Travel Award at the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I used the award to travel and research into how lace was represented in early 17th century portraiture and created a new series of work inspired by my findings. The paintings were subsequently exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and many other locations throughout the UK, including a special exhibition on Self Portraiture featuring Van Dyck’s famous self portrait, at Manchester Art Gallery.
The Harley Gallery in Nottinghamshire invited me to create an exhibition of works inspired by the historic art collection of Welbeck Abbey. Extensive research into the history of this magnificent country house and its collections resulted in an exhibition of new works in 2016/17.
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.
Collectors purchase my work via galleries, exhibitions, directly via my studio or online. Please contact Sophie for enquiries.
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)