“You don’t decide to be an artist, art gets inside of you. It’s like falling in Love” Carmen Herrera, 1915->
love that quote. It explains very well how and why I became an artist. I wasn’t born an artist. I didn’t decide to become an artist. It grew and developed over time and I still don’t know where it will take me and whether it is the right path. But life doesn’t have a single path and I am happy exploring the ones most interesting to me. The life of an artist sure is that.
That said, I spent many years in university studying art history. I loved academic life and I still miss it a little. My passion for art history and painting has come together, however, first in my project for the BP travel award and more recently in my work for the Harley Gallery. I continue to infuse my work with art history and with that I satisfy my love for both. Perfect combo.I was initially planning on a life and career in academia but, well, life got in the way. That’s how things go, don’t they? Things change. My husband and I wanted to start a family and I did not want to use daycare while we worked. My health wasn’t great and since I didn’t want to do academic work part time anyway (I get totally immersed in it) I left that world and took up nappies and bottles. As my health improved, I found myself wanting to ‘do’ something besides baby stuff so I took up painting again. As a full time mother of young children there is little time to paint but I created a corner in the house (from where I could watch and interact with the children) and used every spare half hour to paint a little.
Over the years I practised and got better, learned from others via online forums and more recently via Facebook. Within the cyber world artists are a great resource and support for each other, and that digital environment completely provided my art world for a while. I could study and watch the greatest at work, I could get critiques and advice, and have made many friends along the way. Some of you might remember my early days in this art community of ours!
Creating art is a flexible thing; you can stop and start whenever you like (or must) which makes it the perfect occupation for a new mother with a poor health! In time my health improved, my children went to school, my husband proudly supported my artistic adventures, my corner grew into a studio, and I was lucky to get some paintings into open exhibitions in London and elsewhere. Confidence boosted, I worked on and I still do.
Just like everyone else I have ups and downs and am constantly asking myself what I am doing and where I am going and what I am after. But that is part of the adventure. There is still so much to learn and explore. Sometimes I get a show, often I get refused for open exhibitions and competitions, sometimes a painting develops like I want it to, sometimes it is a battle. Sometimes a piece of writing becomes popular, sometimes it seems nobody reads a word. C’est la vie.
I love the fact I can combine art history with my painting; I read and browse, get ideas for new paintings, and share my findings with you all here on my blog, or on social media. I love showing you how beautiful the art from the 17th century is, how human and ‘normal’ the sitters in those portraits actually are, and at the same time how different and alien they can be too. I love to show a sense of history within my paintings as well, putting us all in the greater picture, right into that great story that is humanity. We are so little in it, yet at the same time it is such a great story. This keeps me painting, it keeps me writing and keeps me going. Sharing the awesomeness of the human story.
Wow, that sound all a bit lofty, doesn’t it. I can only hope and dream that some of it comes across in my work. On a day to day basis I am still a mother of (by now) two young lads, who I need to kick off their iPads on a daily basis (I fail), and need their dinner (only partially successful) and their chat (I succeed in that one), a wife to an amazing guy, an artist, an art historian, a dog owner and I think I can call myself a blogger now too. And that is all in whatever order, depending on, I don’t know, life perhaps.
To me, this blog posts reads a little show-off-y. I really hope it doesn’t read like that to you. I wrote this post as quite a few people answered my question “what would you like me to write about” with ‘tell us how you got into art and what keeps you going’. So I have, in the above, tried to do just that. I really hope that it will inspire others to go and celebrate life, create, share and show. Go on, spread a bit of beauty in this world! Just last night I heard Joyce Didonato (one of the best singers in the world?) quote Jonathan Larson (American composer and playwright, 1960-1996) ‘What is the opposite of war? It isn’t peace, it is creation’. Last Saturday was London. RIP. Let’s create.
Ich bin Dir für diesen Artikel unendlich dankbar, Sophie. Mir geht es in so vielen Dingen – Laufbahn, Gesundheit, Motivation, Ansatz und Selbstzweifel – sehr ähnlich, auch wenn ich keine Kinder habe, und Dein Post schenkte mir heute Trost und Aufmunterung.
Thank you Martine, what a wonderful comment! My German is good enough to read but I hope you don’t mind I am writing back in English. Thank you again! 🙂
thank you. 🙂
What a wonderful article Sophie. It doesn’t read as show-offy at all, just rings really true. I also started painting again when I became a stay-at-home mum and aren’t we lucky that the little darlings come with built-in nap time requirements! It’s true, art isn’t a plan, it just gets under your skin and obsession comes into play. I have to constantly force myself to take time out for other things (chores or preferably socialising, sometimes rest) but it’s a wrench and I’m constantly thinking of what I’m going to paint next. People often say to me, “oh I wish I had time to paint” and often they’re people with all the time in the world. You either do or you don’t want to. Mostly, you just have to!
Hi Penny, thank you! Your comment put a smile on my face. Yes, there is this slightly ‘obsessive’ thing. When you want to paint – you make time. You find it. Wherever an whenever! And thank you to the kids – for making me paint! hah. Great to hear from you! Sophie