HOW PAINTING BECAME MY CAREER, THE sixfootsophie BEGINNINGS
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.
Then using left over tester pots from home decorating I’d create basic two colour outlines of people on to canvases from enlarging photographs. This was all bringing in the pennies but not the pounds.
I returned to college as a mature student. Although I was qualified in Art and Ceramics (degree in industrial ceramics) I lacked the skills needed for the office jobs being advertised.
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 !
The artistic change happened in May 2011 at age 37 when I was off work due to illness. I sat in the garden on that beautiful sunny day, picked up an old watercolour set from my college days, and painted a picture of some iris flowers. Little did I know that just one painting would start my swirly watercolour adventure. The enjoyment from painting also helped with my illness. This website soon became a gallery of paintings and the other hobbies were removed.
Perhaps my blue tinted Irlen glasses are to thank for the choices of colours in my art. My artworks increased in popularity and value, so I didn’t return to my office job, and instead watercolour painting became my ‘proper job’.
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 am one of the lucky ones whom finds it manageable. Diagnosed bipolar in 2001 it was suggested it may have been brought on from the shock of my brothers fatal road accident. I came off the medication while trying for our second child and noticed that my arty creative streak came back full throttle. Six years on and I still remain un-medicated by using painting as my medication.
Painting is my oxygen, imagination is my nourishment and kindness is contagious. Thanks for your interest
Artist Sophie Appleton Huddlestone