Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.
I painted my first paintings about ten or twelve years ago. We had just moved into a new house and its bare walls were in need of some decoration. I bought a set of acrylics, brushes and several cheap canvases and painted some still life. Surprisingly, almost all of them from life. The paintings turned out to be okay-ish, but I put brushes aside and dedicated my free time to other hobbies.
Just over a year ago I returned to painting again and seriously this time. The initial push came from my dear wife who threatened me with buying a cheap painting on Amazon to cover an empty wall. I could not stand that. At around that time I came across the “Daily Paintings” book by Carol Marine and the whole idea of painting small and frequently. Well, there are now so may paintings in our house that we do not have enough walls.
Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?
Not really. It is far too short to have any serious gaps and I am too old to allow them to happen. There are so many things to learn and try! But of course the real life may interfere at some point.
|#127 Tonal Study|
(click to view)
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What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?
Drawing with pencil was the first medium I tried. I always knew I could draw reasonably well. On rare occasions I drew something people commented on positively, but it did not become a hobby. I have an engineering degree, thus, due to my training, I have also never experienced any problems with understanding things like perspective, physics of light and reflection, etc. However, I have never formally learned any art beyond ordinary lessons at school.
I have also tried watercolour and gouache. I have found pure watercolour to be too complicated and difficult for me. I prefer a combination of watercolour and gouache or just pure gouache. I think gouache gives me more flexibility without overcomplicating the process of painting itself. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to really dedicate myself to that medium at the moment
I have also tried oils. Definitely they have not “stuck”. I love the medium, but the technical side of the process makes it too difficult for me to manage in my current circumstances. I do not have a dedicated studio or even a permanent place in the house to deal with such “oily” medium.
So, the medium of my choice is acrylics. This is the one I am trying to excel at this stage. I have learned a lot about what is possible to do with acrylics, which is to put it simply, a lot. However, now I know some of the medium’s limitations as well.
I have always been drawn to art capturing light in nature. So, I am not surprised I find landscapes to be the most appealing genre. But again, I must add, “at the moment”. I have painted several still life paintings and found that I enjoy it very much.
|#148 Getting Old|
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Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?
I really want to return to oils at some stage for a more serious study of the medium. Everything I know about it suggests an interesting journey. It is so to speak “a big idea”. Perhaps in a few years I may be able to overcome the lack of proper studio and all other problems I had with oils previously.
My plan for the more immediate future is to start getting out for not necessarily frequent but regular plein air sessions. Painting is a hobby for me and between other things I have to do it is difficult to find time for regular outings. My plan is to start on that path this year.
Another aspect I would like to explore more this year is still life. Due to the already mentioned lack of a studio I do not have a good way to setup for still life, but this problem seams to be less difficult to overcome. Time will tell.
Who or what inspires you most?
Oh! There are so many great artists I get inspired by. Both past and present. The list would be long. Perhaps James Gurney and Kevin D. Macpherson are at the top of the list though. It is not only because the art they create, but also because of the way they explain what they do and how.
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What does procrastination look like for you?
I am a wrong person to ask this question. My painting career is too short. I have just one time slot during a day, between 9 pm and midnight, I can use for painting. I only have three hours to do something I really want to do much more often. Do I need more motivation? I think not.
What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?
No pointless internet browsing; no forum reading or something like that; no TV; no facebooks and twitters. I do spend some time checking Instagram, but my links are limited entirely to painting and it is more like an educational tool, rather than a social media for me.
|#141 Going to Be Hot|
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How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?
There is no any predetermined way. Sometimes I really think hard about a painting for a long time. In most cases though, I do not spend that much time procrastinating about what to do next. I consider every painting I do as an exercise focusing on a particular technical aspect, I need to learn for my skills “tool box”. The list is very long and it is just a matter of picking one item, any item really, from that list.
I usually set myself a sort of a target for the next two… three paintings. For example, last week was dedicated to still life. I had several small boards I really wanted to use, but they were too small for any landscapes. Why not to use them for still life? So, I painted several small paintings setting a task of using only a limited palette of yellow ochre, red and black, Zorn palette.
Another time I might get interested in a particular brushstroke or a combination of colours or whatever, and that would be the theme of my next exercise.
How do you keep art “fresh?” What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?
I am not sure how engaging my art is. I do not have any yardstick to measure it. Some people buy my paintings from time to time and my family thinks I am doing ok. So, perhaps the art is engaging.
As for the freshness of it, whatever I paint it is something I am interested in one way or another. It is not a problem to find something exciting for the next step. I hope that a bit of that interest and positive feeling I get from learning transpose into my paintings.
|#78 Bright Autumn Day|
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What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?
Right now, and it has been the main theme for some time, I am learning how to use greys in my palette more efficiently. I feel that sometimes my colours get over-saturated and sometimes quite the opposite. I know what I am doing wrong, and I can correct myself alright, but often it takes too many steps to arrive to the right results.
What makes you happiest about your art?
I feel that other people do really enjoy my art. It somehow resonates with their feelings. I am very excited that I can use my paintings to share my view of the world.
© 2020 Sophie Marine