For today’s artist in focus, Penny Post contributor Mirek Gosney catches up with Thatcham artist Sophie Stone to reflect on her inspiring journey so far. Over the past three years, Sophie has gained a popular online following immortalizing our favourite furry friends onto paper and canvas. She previously attended The Downs School in the village of Compton.
Straight out of Compton, Sophie started pursuing her childhood passion for creating art more seriously. Today, she has grown this into a rewarding side business which routinely receives dozens of commissions from all across Thatcham and the surrounding area. Read on to see what she had to say.
When did your interest in art begin?
I have been into arts and crafts for as long as I can remember! From being a creative 6-year-old using leftover cardboard to make a post box, complete with bright red paint and a gold inscription, to drawing a real deer skull in an art class at school. I actually dropped A-Level Art in Sixth Form after one week, because I looked around at my fellow peers and felt that my art and I didn’t belong in this talented group. A few years passed, and I started doodling again. My love and passion for art had returned and I decided I would offer to create pieces for people. This is where my real journey began.
Cats are my obsession. I have always been known as the crazy cat lady, as I used to draw cats a lot when I was younger. I’m a lover of all animals, great and small, and being able to produce a portrait of someone’s pet that they cherish is one of the reasons I decided to focus on animals in the first place. I love to bring out the sparkle in their eyes and see their fur come to life in each piece, because you start to realise how many colours there are in their coats. I also enjoy learning about peoples’ pets to help understand who I am painting.
What would you say have been some of your biggest challenges and achievements since you started?
I have always lacked confidence, so naturally every new piece I completed came with a certain degree of anxiety. Well, I still worry, as I always want my customers to feel satisfied with their commissions. I am definitely more confident than I used to be, as overtime I’ve gained more and more practice and developed my skills. While I still have a long way to go, I once heard the saying, ‘Don’t compare your Day 1 to someone else’s Day 100’. This mantra keeps me motivated. Each order I receive is an achievement, because I realise that I am good at what I do and that people appreciate my art. This is something I am very proud of and thankful for!
What’s next for you? Any exciting projects on the horizon, or new artistic areas you are keen to explore?
Next year, I am planning to become a lot more familiar with pencil work. I will only be accepting pencil orders for the first three months of the year to allow me to explore and experiment within this area. I don’t currently have any solid plans for other projects, however I would really like to produce a series painting or drawing British wildlife.
You accidentally spill kebab sauce all over the Mona Lisa. How do you react?
I would dunk my chips in to take off as much sauce as I can and then I’d run and tell someone, because I’d be too scared to leave without doing so!