HOW PAINTING BECAME MY CAREER
Artist Sophie Huddlestone
After 12 years of employment in embroidery digitizing, I was made redundant. It was 2006 and the bills were coming in fast. Alone, with a son about to start school, I decided to turn my different hobbies into a small business, while looking for a ‘proper job’. I had a small jar with a mixture of foreign notes, from holidays before my son was born. Taking this into a shop in Hinckley, I eagerly awaited as the shop assistant counted the different currencies. It resulted in a total of almost £120 to start off my new career.
With a determination to succeed and a small amount of money, I got straight into building my old website which I named sixfootsophie. Originally this was for handmade cards.
In 2008 I started Little Angels Party Nails, which was nail art for children’s birthday party’s. This ran for a few years but arranging child care it was awkward.
It was thanks to my tutors at Hinckley College whom spotted my difficulty in reading, their referral (at age 35) diagnosed dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome. As a child I’d been affectionately called dizzy, silly, clumsy etc with “at least you can draw”. Imagine my shock when during the diagnosis I was also found to have a higher than average IQ. It made me feel like the scarecrow from the wizard of Oz finally finding a brain! (Irlen Syndrome is a problem with the brain’s ability to process visual information). In 2009 I passed all 8 exams in accountancy, book keeping and payroll. I got my special blue tinted Irlen glasses and gained employment in a payroll office. Yay !
Being happy in my career also made me happier in my personal life. Reunited (with my son’s father) Keith and I married in December 2012, at 39 I was finally off that dusty shelf! A couple of years later we had a daughter too. Being an artist takes up every spare moment possible, my hubby insists that sitting on my backside painting isn’t a proper job and would prefer me to curb my dedication to it. But as any true artists Knows, being creative is our oxygen.
The illness mentioned is bipolar disorder. I enjoy my bipolar and don’t see it as an illness; instead I see it as a gift. Some times are more challenging than others, but I actually prefer to have a rainbow of emotions rather than an average mood. Diagnosed bipolar in 2001 for a decade I tried every type of anti-psychotic medication under the sun & still had several holidays on the moon! I came off the medication while trying for our second child and noticed that my artistic creative streak came back full throttle. Years after having our second child I still remain un-medicated and instead use painting as my medication.
These days if mania rises I channel it into something productive, for example suddenly writing several chapters of a novel ‘Sectioned Alien’ or making my artists app. On deep thoughtful days I can create emotional fine art paintings.