Eerie, magical beasts

Crow and toes by Rachel FalberI interviewed Rachel Falber for SkyLightRain some time ago, intrigued by the elegant and precise darkness evoked in her deliciously named Hare Raising Designs. I adore the way her artworks always hint at what lies just beneath the surface, not just physically, through the animal skeletons she often draws, but psychologically.

Over the past few years I’ve continued to see Rachel’s creations cropping up at art shows all over Bristol and beyond, and couldn’t resist finding out where she and her work are at now.

Crab print by Rachel Falber

Crab print by Rachel Falber

“Quite a lot has been happening recently,” Rachel says. “Most exciting of all is I am now a Princes Trust Enterprise Young Person, which means I did the four-day course and am attending meetings and workshops to help me launch Hare Raising Designs officially! It’s been amazing and I still have a couple of years’ worth of support with them. Other things I have been up to include re branding myself as a designer and artist, launching new products and trying out new places to sell like markets and Arts Trails.”

Screen printed sperm whale by Rachel Falber

Screen printed sperm whale by Rachel Falber

Rachel’s debut solo exhibition Semblance took place a while back “for a few different reasons, mostly to make myself do a fine art-based body of work, to give myself a time frame to do it in, to get a bit of exposure and to try new things and do some experimenting.”

To achieve this, Rachel had access to a large space “where I could go big and messy”, which became the birthplace of all art for the show.

“I thought the word ‘Semblance’ fitted the themes within my work as well as how I felt people perceive my art,” she explains. “I feel like my fine art has folklore and anthropomorphic themes as well as sometimes having macabre elements to it, but what inspires me to make the work are things that aren’t obviously connected.”

Narwhals by Rachel Falber

Narwhals by Rachel Falber

I love the card above. My husband bought it for me when I was writing some fiction filled with these peculiar, magical sea-beasts, and it always makes me smile to see it.

Research forms the foundation of much of her projects. “I was doing lots of research on quite current things like the internet and our personas both online and off, and how different they can be,” she says. “For example, people who are shy in real life can be outgoing and confident online, even though thousands more people can see them. It’s like they’re using the screen as a mask and a tool to distance themselves from the rest of the world. I took elements of these ideas and elements from more traditional ways people use masks and made art that reacted to it. So, I guess I feel like my art has hidden depths which mirrors the essence of the word ‘semblance’.”

Folklore, mythology and culture all inspire her creations, “also human behaviour and natural history, which is a huge element that spans across all the art and design work I create.”

I’m a huge fan of Rachel’s shadowy view of the natural world, not least her darker-than-average take on Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, which is serving as my Christmas jumper this year :)

Rudolf sweatshirt by Rachel Falber

Currently Rachel is devoting some of her energy to focusing on the business side of things. “The actual creating of work has been put on the back bench while I try and get the business off the ground,” she admits. “I guess I’m developing my work, but from a more business point of view, I’m learning a lot about the things that run alongside creating work, promoting myself, expanding my customer base and getting my products and art out to more people. That takes a huge chunk of time and I’m really experiencing what it’s like to be a one-woman band.”

Collection of work by Rachel Falber

Rachel relishes getting feedback from people who encounter her work through art trails and markets. “I love talking to likeminded people who maybe create themselves or are starting a business of their own,” she comments. “I find great comfort and pride in being able to advise someone on something which helps them in some way, and which I have experienced as a self employed creative. The feeling I get when someone is willing to part with their hard earned money to buy something I’ve made, even just to buy a card, humbles me greatly and I will never take that for granted.”

Rachel has a website for her design work at www.hareraisingdesigns.com, plus a second website solely for her fine art at www.rachelfalber.com.

You can also find her on Etsy, on Twitter as @hareraisingd or @Rachel_Falber, and on Instagram as hareraisingdesigns or rachelfalberartist.

Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com!

Botanicals ablaze

Mother's Marjorelle Chair by Grace Green croppedWith an evocative sense of heat and botanical aromas imbuing every artwork, Grace Green’s paintings bring a hit of gorgeous colour to chilly days.

“I’ve always been preoccupied with colour, pattern and texture,” she admits. “As a child I was always drawing. Art is something that’s followed me through all my educational decisions, I took BTEC art and design instead of A levels, and at 16 I knew it was the only subject I wanted to pursue. Both my parents went to art college and my brother too, it’s almost as if I didn’t have a choice!”

Herbaceous Hot House 1 by Grace Green

Herbaceous Hot House 1 by Grace Green

Grace’s vividly fecund paintings are the result of hours of experimentation with different hues.

“I enjoy the way two colours sit with one another more than anything,” she says. “When I left college I went to India for three months, at the time I was unaware of how much it would influence my love for colour. Now I choose my holiday destinations by looking at how colour is used within a country. Nature is so vibrant and not afraid of colour either.”

Herbaceous Hot House 2 by Grace Green

Herbaceous Hot House 2 by Grace Green

It’s abundantly clear from her creations that the natural world is a driving force when it comes to composition.

“I appreciate the contrast between linear structures and organic plant forms, as a reminder of constraints that are placed by man over nature,” she comments. “I notice different patterns next to one another in everyday set ups and it reminds me that pattern is everywhere. When looking under the microscope at something that to the eye seems flat or single tone, you see its make up is so intricate. When I paint I let my minds eye imagine these shapes which allows me to free flow forms next to painted shapes that one can understand.” Continue reading

Take a trip with memory game Arabicity

Arabicity game by Daradam

This beautifully packaged memory game takes a familiar idea and carries it overseas. The first thing that struck me on opening the box was the sweet smell of plywood. Each smooth cornered square sports a miniature artwork, showing an architectural landmark from an Arab country, such as Jordan, Algeria or Lebanon, with the name written in one or two of three languages – English, French or Arabic.

I’ve always believed that reading and playing are two key ingredients for nourishing a child’s empathy and interest in the world. The third is undoubtedly travel. Arabicity is excellent example of how well this can work, encompassing all three elements as the squares offer glimpses of enticingly foreign settings, with each successfully matched pair providing an insight into a language entirely unlike English.

Arabicity game by Daradam1

The smooth, light playing pieces are a pleasure to handle, making this a refreshingly multi-sensory alternative to on-screen games. The illustrations by Noha Habaieb are exquisitely detailed too. Shady stepped streets, grand buildings and friendly locals abound, bringing a sense of distant cities into my chilly British living room.

Arabicity game by Daradam2

Arabicity is created by Daradam, a French-based publishing house that specialises in educational toys inspired by the cultural heritage of the Arab world. “Our concept is to awaken kids’ curiosity for this part of the world,” says founding director Hanna Lenda. “For instance, Arabcity takes players to the narrow streets of Sanaa’s old city, in front of the Samaraa mosque in Irak or to visit the Sursock palace in Beyrouth. Some of these architectural wonders are out of reach these days, and Daradam enables little ones to discover them in a fun way.”

I’m planning to take my younger two nephews on a whirl through Arabicity this Christmas, and I’m pretty sure their art-loving nan will relish the game just as much as they do.

Find out more at www.daradam.com, www.facebook.com/daradamkids and www.instagram.com/daradamkids/

Shades of thought

Feature of Landscape1 by Clare Thatcher

Feature of Landscape1 by Clare Thatcher

The concept of painted landscape representing human emotions is intensely appealing to me. Stormy skies, wind-lashed fields and scenes verging on abstraction can all evoke a state of mind.

It’s a school of thought artist Clare Thatcher is fully enrolled in with her dark, contemplative layers of oil paint applied to linen or plywood.

Formation by Clare Thatcher

Formation by Clare Thatcher

“I’m a Contemporary British artist based in Bristol with a passion for painting,” Clare says. “I attended University of West of England from 2011 till 2014 graduating with a First Class BA Honours Degree in Drawing & Applied Arts, and then gained a MA Fine Art at Bath Spa University. Since graduating I’ve exhibited in London, Belgium, Nottingham, Bristol & Bath.”

It’s the psychological impression of a setting that she aims to capture in her paintings. “My work is deeply connected with a sense of place, taking influence from the idea of liminal space in landscape,” she says. “The locations I choose and the focus of my attention is highly selective, personal and resonant of individual landscape features and associated thoughts, emotions and reflections. The emphasis is upon the sense of contemplation within place.” Continue reading

Helena Park’s Shadowlands

Hinterland etching by Helena Park

Hinterland etching by Helena Park

Helena Park learnt at art college that self-motivation is key. “You must become your own agenda-setter,” she says. “Stay true to what you want to make and follow whichever direction it takes you in.”

It’s a lesson that has served her well as she’s pursued her aim of being a working artist.

We met at The Other Art Fair, where Helena was showing her beautiful yet unsettling etchings and monoprints depicting scenes of monstrous hinterlands.

Gossip etching by Helena Park

Gossip etching by Helena Park

“Books have always been my biggest resource,” she says of her inspiration. “When drawing a new series of initial sketches I usually spread out a selection of books around me and pick and choose imagery which catches my interest.”

Much of her work is figurative, so existing images of people with expressive gestures “like an Egon Schiele painting or photographs of dynamic movement” are key to her process. “Ancient art is another inspiration, in particular Mayan, Anglo-Saxon Christian and Ancient Greek artworks,” she says. “I find that there’s a visceral and expressive quality to such works which transcends time and remains relevant to contemporary life.”

Helena enjoys examining her ideas, while protecting their ambiguity. “My concepts for new work are always vague and I like them to remain so,” she says. “This leaves room for me to keep exploring ways of creating a tangible conception of those ideas. I’m drawn to other artists who create a world within their art that’ both highly stylised and immediately recognisable as the artist’s own. This is something which I try to channel and in my own practise.”

This instinctual yet informed approach offers a dark dreaminess to Helena’s work, which often seems to be capturing images from the shadowy subconscious. “Particular figures often reoccur in many of my etchings,” she says. “I like to repeat certain characters in order to test whether they have staying power. In effect, I’m developing a core cast of players in the work. I like the idea that viewers will be able to recognise reoccurring characters throughout the etchings and that through this repetition the characters gain a significance.”

The Conversation etching by Helena Park

The Conversation etching by Helena Park

She builds up images drawing from her own rich imagination as well as through close observational study of the human body.

“A good example of these different attitudes would be the etchings; ‘The Conversation’ and ‘Morning Light’,” she says. “‘The Conversation’ exemplifies my imaginative or stylised approach whilst ‘Morning Light’ comes from my desire to move away from just distorting the human body but rather to make a study of it in it’s true form.”

Morning Light etching by Helena Park

Morning Light etching by Helena Park

Helena created her etching Morning Light by tracing a photograph she’d taken onto a soft-grounded zinc plate. “A soft-ground picks up any impressions you make onto the plate,” she says. “I placed my photograph on top of the grounded plate and with a pen drew the lines of her body. This process is unlike using a hard-ground which requires you to scratch through the waxy layers in order to create a line which can later be etched.”

Other surface marks and textures were added using sugar-lift and spit-bite – painting with acid onto an aquatint. “Through these textures I could convey a damaged or corroded appearance to the girl’s skin which was suggestive of some organism growing on her or perhaps acts of violence,” Helena says. “This particular print led to my making a whole series of further etchings and mono-prints all of which used the same female subject.”

Helena’s core aim is to create a sense of another world, “within which exists a cast of characters I am constantly building on and adding to. The series of etchings entitled ‘Hinterland’ are my largest explorations to date of such an imagined world. I hope to keep exploring this concept in my future work.”

Life Study monoprint by Helena Park

Life Study monoprint by Helena Park

The palpable darkness in Helena’s work seems to be directly at odds with her sunny personality. When I comment on this, Helena is surprised.

“It’s gratifying to hear that you think that I seem cheery, but I admit to occasionally suffering from spells of hanger and that at the times when I have missed lunch my sunny disposition has immediately clouded over,” she exclaims. “In such moments anyone unlucky enough to have be in my vicinity has certainly caught a glimpse of my stormier side.”

As it happens, Helena doesn’t regard her work “as just being unremittingly dark or grotesque. I think that there is a healthy dose of black humour in the work. This comic aspect is very important as it is this sense of humour which I utilise as a vehicle to convey sensitive topics or my personal emotions in an accessible way.”

See more of Helena’s work and purchase art at www.helenapark.co.uk or on her Instagram account: helenapark_ where she regularly post updates on new projects.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

In the footprints of Dylan

Seimon Pugh-Jones at the Tin Shed, Laugharne. Photo cr Graham Harris of GPhotography

Seimon Pugh-Jones at the Tin Shed, Laugharne. Photo cr Graham Harris of GPhotography

Dylan Thomas was born on this day in 1914, making it entirely appropriate to celebrate with an artist I met in the town where he wrote much of his poetry, and the play Under Milk Wood.

I encounter Seimon Pugh-Jones in Laugharne while exploring the Tin Shed museum – a marvel of a place dedicated to wartime memorabilia. There’s even an Anderson shelter in the back garden, and countless ephemera such as old letters and guides for American GIs posted in Britain with glorious cultural titbits such as ‘Reserved, not unfriendly…”

Seimon is one of the museum’s founders, with a background in film photography. He’s currently absorbed in painting all the characters from Dylan Thomas ‘play for voices’, Under Milk Wood.

Cherry Owen by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Cherry Owen by Seimon Pugh-Jones

I’d done stills photography for the History Channel. It was for a series called ‘Battle Stations’, which gave me a lot of experience in historical reconstruction pictures,” says Seimon. “That basically means, recreating images in the style of original WW2 pictures. Costume, props and vehicles had to be accurate to the period and then I would create a little story within the image to add some pseudo-reality, if that makes sense.”

Through “being at the right place at the right time”, Seimon was invited to work on Band of Brothers, supplying ‘newsreel’ style footage shot on a vintage camera. “I even got a bit part. That was an amazing experience,” he comments.

Gossamer Beynon by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Gossamer Beynon by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Seimon then became a stills photographer for an American history magazine called Armchair General. “I did ‘reconstruction style photography’ full time for four years, and loved it, but then my contract came to end and I was out of work,” he says. “Because I had a large collection of costume and props, I ended up opening the Tin Shed museum with a friend of mine, Andrew Isaacs, in Laugharne.”

After focusing on working on the museum for several years, Seimon was interviewed for a web-based photo-site. “One of the questions asked me was ‘What’s your next project?’ I’d committed myself to an exhibition of photography at a local gallery, and when I listened back to the interview, I realised I’d lost the enthusiasm for taking pictures.”

PC Attila Rees by Seimon Pugh-Jones

PC Attila Rees by Seimon Pugh-Jones

He adds: “I’m a bit old school, I love shooting on film and working in the dark room. There are some great photographers out there, but Photoshop and computer-manipulated images have taken the magic away from photography for me… But I’d made a promise to fill the gallery, so what could I do? I’d dabbled a bit with painting, nothing serious..so I though, Give it a go!”

Captain Cat by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Captain Cat by Seimon Pugh-Jones

He says producing portraits of Under Milk Wood’s characters was almost inevitable. “I live in Laugharne, virtually opposite to where Dylan Thomas is buried,” he says. “It’s a magical place and I quite understand how he got his inspiration for Under Milk Wood. This led me to take a photograph of a friend of mine, John Bradshaw, dressed as Captain Cat, with a fish on his head, (as you do) as a little photo project. It worked well as a picture, so I thought I’d paint him. It turned out ok. And as Captain Cat needs a Rosie Probert, she was next.”

Rosie Probert by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Rosie Probert by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Using the people of Laugharne as models for this was equally inevitable.

“Rosie Probert was another friend of mine, Lorrain King, who sings in the band I play for, Trenchfoot. That’s another story. As the paintings progressed, I realised I needed models…then I realised it would be so much fun getting my friends involved. So it went on from there.”

Mrs Ogmore Pritchard by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Mrs Ogmore Pritchard by Seimon Pugh-Jones

All kinds of details are to hand to bring the caricatures to life.

“Dylan Thomas has given the caricature such depth and richness, and a back story. I try and make the expressions realistic to those ‘moments’. I also try and incorporate subtle bits of humour.”

Running the Tin Shed museum offers endless opportunities for staging and painting the portraits. “I love vintage fashion, and having props and costume to hand makes it interesting too,” he comments. “The museum is not for profit, we can’t take a wage from it, so being able to paint around the museum, so to speak, is very handy.”

Evans The Death by Seimon Pugh-Jones

Evans The Death by Seimon Pugh-Jones

The lack of technology involved in his painting style is also appealing. “I suppose going back to ‘Old school’ works for me. I think art has replaced what I was missing in photography. It’s a new challenge.”

You can see more of Seimon’s paintings dotted around Laugharne, as well as encountering his models going about their everyday lives in a variety of settings around the village!

No Good Boyo by Seimon Pugh-Jones

No Good Boyo by Seimon Pugh-Jones

He admits that showing his models the finished works is always a tense moment.

“This is the nerve wrenching bit, because Under Milk wood is full of colourful caricatures. I have to make sure my models are comfortable with the casting. But so far, I’ve had a great response… Fingers crossed for the next series!”

Find Seimon at www.pughjones.co.uk.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

An expression of love

DancinginMocoMoco#3 by Natsuko Hattori

DancinginMocoMoco#3 by Natsuko Hattori

Natsuko Hattori’s soft, curving sculptures are beguilingly sensual creations, yet they express sorrow and feelings of helplessness as well as love.

“In 2011, a year after I moved to New York, the earthquake that devastated the northeast Japan happened,” Natsuko explains. “It was very big thing for me. I lost contact with my family and friends for more than a week. I panicked and spent sleepless nights crying. I felt so powerless.”

Sculptures in blue by Natsuko Hattori

Sculptures in blue by Natsuko Hattori

Through her desperation, Natsuko began to wonder if she could do as an artist to express or alleviate these feelings, not just her own, but those experienced by others too. “In the end, I came to the conclusion that I want my art to make people smile, make them feel warm and tender at the moment they feel sad and down,” she says. “I decided to recreate through art what I feel when I think of the word love. To me, to love is to embrace, or to envelop someone or something with warmth, tenderness and affection. So I came up with the idea of wrapping cotton balls in piecse of cloth and putting them together to create a soft sculpture. This is how MocoMoco was conceived.”

SCULPTURES1 by Natsuko Hattori

Sculptures by Natsuko Hattori

She sees textiles as the perfect medium to t communicate emotions on a relatable level.

“Fabric is my medium of choice because people everywhere can relate more easily to this material, which conveys warmth, natural softness and the intimate human touch,” she says. “My works are all made up of my feelings and experiences. People who have seen my work for many years say that each piece of work represents my life and ideas. For me, the work is like a diary, which confines the feelings of that time. Just through looking at my work, I feel my thoughts from that time again.”

Find Natsuko’s sculptures at www.natsukohattori.net 

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

The psychology of a landscape

Somerset Coast by Andrew Hardwick

Somerset Coast by Andrew Hardwick

Growing up deep in the north Somerset countryside played a role in shaping Andrew Hardwick as an artist.

In case you were wondering (I had to ask), saltings are grass land that are on tidal land, and are regularly flooded by sea water. Imagine that, a place occupied both by sea and land. My inner poet is in raptures.

These are among views that capture Andrew’s attention and inspire much of his art.

“I have a studio out at the farm and that enables me to collect all the things that are left over from farming,” he says, listing: “Decorating paints, PVA, plastics and pigments – soot and soils. I glue and cement it all together on canvas bound with wire.”

Valley and Wind by Andrew Hardwick

Valley and Wind by Andrew Hardwick

Becoming an artist was a process that gradually consumed Andrew Hardwick over a number of years. “It took quite a long time,” he comments. “The enthusiasm and fascination slowly built up, and before I knew it, it had taken over my life!”

Art classes and a part time foundation course contributed to his enduring desire to create. “I think when you go to art college they expect a level of seriousness and professionalism that cements it, that make you click and identify fully as an artist,” he says. “I’m now totally committed.”

In truth, it was seeded in his psyche from his earliest days.

The artworks themselves just come, Andrew says, “from doing lots of walks. They’re not immediate representations, not something I’ve seen and am recording in a straightforward way. Rather, they’re memories of a landscape, with lots of accidents in play in making the final artwork.”

The moods of his surroundings intrigue Andrew endlessly. “I’m interested in the psychological implications of a place, as I remember it,” he explains. “I do occasional works based on actual places – a recent exhibition was all based on Bodmin Moor, for example – but these aren’t pictures of specific views, rather the feeling of the view.”

Moor, White Sky, Sheep by Andrew Hardwick

Moor, White Sky, Sheep by Andrew Hardwick

Andrew enjoys the challenges of his work. “It’s all very personal and because of that it’s fascinating to do,” he says. “My passion for the landscape is a big part of it, but also the way I perceive it as mirroring my own state of mind. Finding ways to explore that is key to what I do – answering the questions in myself.”

He’s keen to dispel the myth that dark works are proof of a dark personality. “I work mainly around the estuary and Dartmoor so people might presume I’m a bleak person, but the opposite is actually true. I see my work as reflecting the power of nature and wilderness and the power of being alive. It’s wonderful being out in the rain with the wind blowing. It can be frightening, but it can also be spiritual – elemental.”

He adds: ‘I see a lot of joy in my work – it\s a celebration of life and living things.”

Andrew will be exhibiting at the RWA’s 165th Annual Open Exhibition from 1 October until December 3rd 2017. He will also be showing his work at the Totterdown Front Room Art Trail on 18th and 19th November 2017.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

Remembered textures

Giselle, detail, oil on linen, by Sophie PloegI love to run my fingertips over beautifully enticing fabrics. Artist Sophie Ploeg is playing with our tactile desires through oil paintings and pastel works that tempt the eyes instead of our sense of touch. It’s a skill that’s somewhat confusing at first glance, as our mind conjures memories of these fabrics against our skin, filling in the information presented by sight. In the same way that a description of food can make us salivate, Sophie feeds other more sensual urges simply through pressing colour to canvass or page in such as way that she perfectly captures the play of light and shade and the texture of draped fabric.

The Shawl, oil on linen by Sophie Ploeg

The Shawl, oil on linen by Sophie Ploeg

After growing up in the Netherlands, Sophie has made her home in England for a very simple reason. “I fell in love! During my research for my PhD, I spent a lot of time in London in various archives and libraries,” she comments. “I met my British husband during these trips and decided to stay. It has been nearly 20 years now and until Brexit I could not imagine ever going back. I am completely integrated and at home here, though I do admit a preference for Dutch cheese.”

Despite Brexit, Sophie is hoping to remain in the UK. “I will stay as this is my home and this is where my children are growing up,” she says. “I love Britain for its love of history and its beautiful nature but I will remain a Dutchie in my heart.”

A passion for art, architecture, photography, fashion and theatre have provided Sophie with the foundations of her life here, but it’s her experiments with recreating lusciously textured textiles in her artwork that caught my eye.

Looking Back, detail, oil on linen by Sophie Ploeg

Looking Back, detail, oil on linen by Sophie Ploeg

“I was always fascinated by painting various textures and have tried to challenge myself with painting water, rocks, sand and so on,” she says. “When I tried fabrics I was hooked.”

To up the ante, Sophie started painting depictions of lace. “This has kept me busy for a few years now,” she says. “It’s still a challenge to really capture the crisp, transparent qualities of the fabric and I doubt I will ever be totally happy about my efforts. Other fabrics like velvet, silk and patterned woven or printed textiles supply an endless source of inspiration.”

Her favourite materials when drawing fabrics are oil paints and pastels. “Other artists might get on better with watercolour, digital mediums, photography or even textile itself,” she comments. “I love oils for its depth of colour and pure beauty. It can make the deepest blacks and the richest blues or reds. With glazing and scumbling you can create beautiful effects. It is hugely versatile and easy to use, it doesn’t dry up and you can play with it endlessly.”

She also loves the precision required to get the most from pastels. “They are very direct in that you cannot pre-mix colours. You have to layer colours in order to mix, which not only forces you to learn about colour but also automatically provides textures and depth.”

The Ritual, oil on linen, by Sophie Ploeg

The Ritual, oil on linen, by Sophie Ploeg

For Sophie, fabrics are brimming with stories – lived, invented and imbued. “Fabrics are full of associations, and history,” she says. “They are tactile and sensuous. They are used for fashion and home furnishings, film and theatre costumes, drapery, sails and sacks. Many people have memories evoked by clothes, many have associations with certain types of textiles. It is one of the richest sources of inspiration for me and I hope to evoke these associations in my paintings. The most lush fabrics such as lace, velvet and silk are the most fun to work with as they are so beautiful and take us to another world of history and imagination.”

Winning the BP Travel Award in 2013 and having her work exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London has given my career a very definite boost, she says. “It was a fantastic experience to not only be included in the show and the buzzing activity that surrounds it, but to have an opportunity to really dive deeper and combine my love of art history with my love of painting,” she says. “It was a proud moment to have a series of works on show at such as prestigious location.”

White Dove, oil on linen, by Sophie Ploeg

White Dove, oil on linen, by Sophie Ploeg

Sophie is currently working on a new series of paintings that springing from her imagination, with some inspiration sourced from works by Old Masters. “These works are freeing me up to experiment and play a little, both of which most artists need to develop their work,” she says. “I am sure this period will help me move my work onwards, and I am excited to explore where it will take me.”

Sophie is also writing about art, art history and painting on my blog and for other publications, “which I enjoy immensely. Find more about me and my work on www.sophieploeg.com.”

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judy(at)socketcreative.com.

The science of colour

Explore Watercolour Still_lapislazuliI’ve grown quietly addicted to Winsor & Newton’s art masterclasses, emailed in tasty chunks with each short film exploring a new painting technique or titbit. As the world’s leading supplier of fine art materials, they have a dizzying array of colour knowledge, which makes it no surpsie that they’ve teamed up with the Royal Academy of Arts to produce two films exploring the history of colour.

Rose Madder

Hosted by the Royal Academy of Art’s president and renowned painter, Christopher Le Brun PRA, the films illuminate the medium and materiality of paint, revealing the techniques of painting masters past and present and the contemporary practice of artists today.

The first is Exploring Watercolour, providing professional insights into the history and myths of the medium and insights into the inspiration behind Le Brun’s practise, and the relationship between paint, colour and light. Later in 2017, Winsor & Newton and the RA create a film exploring the story and development of colour, its chemical and cultural origins, the philosophy of pigmentation and its impact on artists’ work.

Explore Watercolour Still_Christopher Le Brun

“What you want to remember about colour is that it’s inexplicable, and that is the pleasure of it.” Christopher Le Brun PRA.

Watch the film here.

This August, Winsor & Newton are offering the chance to hear Le Brun discuss colour in person. You can win two tickets to attend the exclusive event ‘The Art and Science of Colour’ at the Royal Academy on Monday 11 September 2017.

The prize also includes a personalised Winsor & Newton Series 7 brush, and a signed copy of Composer by Christopher Le Brun, President of Royal Academy.

Hosted by Christopher Le Brun PRA, the evening will feature distinguished speakers across a range of disciplines, including artist and authority on colour David Batchelor and Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences at UCL Dr Ruth Siddall. The event will be moderated by art Historian and Lecturer, Ben Street.

The competition closes on 25th August 2017. Find full details here

All images courtesy of Christopher Le Brun and the Royal Academy of Arts. Photography by Nick Watson.