Artist S.H. Page
HOW PAINTING BECAME MY CAREER, THE sixfootsophie BEGINNINGS
This page is about the different jobs that lead up to becoming an artist (view the news page for Soph’s artists career so far)
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 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 parties. This ran for a few years but 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.
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.
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 ceramic university days, and painted a picture of some iris flowers. Little did I know that just one painting would start my swirly painting adventure, and become the cure for my illness.
Perhaps my blue tinted Irlen glasses are to thank for the choices of colours in my art. Being so healty and happy with creating paintings I didn’t return to my office job and instead painting became my new career.
As my kids are getting older it becomes easier and easier to focus on being a full time artist again.
Painting takes up every spare moment and as any true artists Knows, being creative is our fuel, it’s our oxygen.
The illness mentioned is bipolar disorder, unfortunately the stigma attached is still very ripe, especially in the art world, with the presumption of being an unreliable or fragile person. Ironically focusing on my art career is one of my strategies for managing the illness. My emotions are extremely useful for creating paintings so it becomes an extra bonus for me to have this ‘illness’. (Diagnosed bipolar in 2001 it was suggested it may have been brought on from the shock of my brother’s fatal road accident).
Painting is my oxygen, imagination is my nourishment and kindness is contagious. Thanks for your interest
Artist Sophie Appleton Huddlestone