Sophie Carey an expressionist painter

Can you remember what first captured you to paint and why?

I can remember the first time I was drawn to Painting; it was in my Level 3/4 Art & Design diploma in 2015. I spent most of my creative life using dry mediums such as charcoal, graphite, and fine liner. However, I had to step it up during my studies to explore all mediums, and it’s then I found a love for Painting. I’ve always been fascinated by Painters since being a young child, but I never had the confidence to try until my late teens. My tutors at the time encouraged me to let loose with paint, explore with colour and don’t try and create perfection. It’s the best advice I’ve ever had, as it allowed me to find my style and not be scared of trying a new medium.

You have created some fantastic paintings. Are you a self-taught artist, or have you undergone formal training?

I think this is a really good question, as I’m actually a bit of both. In my opinion, nobody can teach you how to draw or paint more than yourself. It takes patience, practice and making happy accidents. Of course, studying Fine Art has benefits such as learning Art history, knowledge of Art, colour theory and all the technical attributes to having a successful Artist portfolio and future in the Art industry, However when it comes to practical learning, I think that’s down to yourself to put time and effort into learning processes and methods. I’ve studied Art since GCSE-Bachelor degree level, yet I still would consider myself as a self-taught Artist. It was me who put time into researching, learning and painting. Nobody teaches you in University how to paint. They teach you how to become an Artist.

“Still life, 2020, Oil” – Sophie Carey

What is the hardest part about painting, and how do you overcome it?

Personally, the hardest part of painting is the beginning and the end. I find at the beginning of a piece, everything is still flat, and tones are still minimal, so it’s hard to see the finished look when you’re so far away from finishing. Whenever I start a painting, it doesn’t look like anything but a few splodges on a canvas, and I have to tell myself, “It’s going to look like nothing until I keep building layers”, so now, I’ve learnt to be patient. At the end of a painting, I’m constantly questioning, “Is this finished?” I’m sure every Artist questions this. It’s hard to know when to put the paintbrush down because, as an expressionist painter, there is no end. I have to look at my work from all angles and judge if any more paint is needed, and most of the time, I’ve learnt to put the canvas down and leave it. It’s very easy to keep going, and eventually, I end up ruining my work and putting it in the bin, but that’s not happened for a long time!

What is your favourite subject to capture?

My favourite subject to capture is the female form. Since I started life drawing in my college days, I instantly fell in love with drawing live models. I’ve never had life drawing lessons with males which is interesting, I’d love to give it a go some day. I’ve always drawn the female form because my tutors would say females have beautiful curves to capture and it’s true. I’ve always been really confident in life drawing sessions and it’s something I mastered pretty quickly because I enjoyed it so much. I would love to teach it one day. My practice concentrates on mental health and I think capturing a nude, female body holds a sense of vulnerability and beauty to convey emotion. I have the best days when I’m life drawing, it’s so peaceful and easy for me.

“Grief, 2020, Acrylic on Canvas” – Sophie Carey

Where do you get your inspiration for your work?

My inspiration for my work comes from years of researching artists and visiting galleries. I remember going to Tate Liverpool for Tracey Emin exhibition and I fell in love. I understood Emins work without even researching; it was so capturing and raw. Emin is one of those artists that people either love or hate, and I’m one that loves. I first glanced at her work when I was standing in the Tate looking at all her life drawings. I was blown away by her loose, fluid yet controlled style. Emin reminded me I didn’t need to stay in the lines, I could let go. I found beauty in how courageous her work was; that’s the sort of artist I wanted to be; I just needed the inspiration to do so. Emin inspired me to use the female form to my advantage, to use text in my work and to find a narrative in my work. Frank Auerbach is also influential to me; his layers and sweeps of colour to create tone won me over. Auerbach has this way of layering thick oil paint onto canvas until it tears, bandaging the canvas to allow more expressionistic mark-makings to his figurative paintings. Auerbach taught me how to use colour just by looking at his work. Overlapped, impulsive strokes that didn’t allow room for thought; a colour genius.

Do you attend classes or use reference pictures?

I used to attend classes in University for life drawing and print making, but since lockdown I’ve not been to any. I would love to book some life drawing sessions at a place in Manchester that I know of, it’s just finding the time to do so! I always create by taking a picture of my subject matter or I’m drawing from observation such as life drawing. I’ve done quiet a few still life studies during lockdown, where I’ve placed objects in front of me and captured it. I don’t think I could ever paint from memory!

“Untitled” – Sophie Carey

If you could paint anything on the world without restriction, what would it be and why?

I would paint on every blank wall in the world! I can’t stand seeing dull, depressing buildings with no character. Luckily, I’m from Manchester where a lot of it is filled talented street artists. It brings that little bit of joy when you’re walking down a road and you see these colossal works of art beaming with colour and talent. Everything we see is so clinical and minimalist these days, why can’t we just fill the world with more colour?

Have you ever considered painting a self-portrait?

I paint self-portraits all the time. I sometimes use a mirror depending on what body part I’m trying to draw, but most of the time, it’ll be pictures of myself. I’m working on a solo exhibition at the moment, where I’m showcasing a self-portrait series. My practice concentrates on myself, so I’m actually sick of painting myself now!

“Untitled” – Sophie Carey

Do you have any advice for people that want to start painting?

If you are reading this, and you want to paint but you’re nervous to start please just give it a go! Painting teaches you patience and you will need a lot of it. However, there isn’t a better feeling when you’ve stuck it out and accomplished your own painting. Art has no right or wrong, it’s subjective and that’s what you need to remember. It’s not about creating a perfected, hyper-realistic painting. It’s about you finding your own style and simply allowing room for mistakes to happen, then you will learn how to mix colours, understanding colour, and successfully creating a painting that you love. It’s taken me 10 years to find my style and purpose to paint; 10 years of trial and error. Don’t think too deep about it, just buy a canvas and let go!

Is there anything you hope to achieve in the next 2 years?

In the next 2 years, I would love to be able to say I’m an Art therapist and I’ve applied for The Big Painting Challenge on BBC. I keep missing the deadline to apply, but I watch it every year and think “I could do this.” There’s no time like the present, so fingers crossed I’m on there. I’m really passionate about working with children and young adults in the mental health sector, and I’m currently having meetings with a company to mentor young adults that want to come and express their emotions through art. I hope to be secure in this particular job role by 2024!

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