Painting career of Sophie Huddlestone
Sophie Huddlestone taking her Irlen Syndrome glasses self-portrait painting into the Ten2 Gallery in Leicestershire. April 2023
April 29th until July 8th 2023 my painting of Irlen syndrome blue tinted glasses self-portrait was exhibited in the Ten2 gallery in Hinckley, Leicestershire. The exhibition was the subject of ‘My Special Item’. Out of all the exhibits my painting was awarded a highly commended, just three artists got this award so I’m over the moon, and it also came 3rd in the peoples choice (a public vote from all the gallery visitors). Not only are my glasses my favorite thing but it may also raise awareness to encourage more people with dyslexia or light sensitivity to get examined and helped by getting the exact tone and shade of colour for their eyes.
Sky Arts Landscape Artist of The Year
In 2023 I went to Liverpool to be filmed as one of the 50 wildcard artists for television program ‘Sky Arts Landscape Artist of The Year’ series 9, aired in Jan/Feb 2024. Below is a photo of Stephen Mangan interviwing me during the filming.
With me having dyslexia, irlene syndrome and autism the locals in my village were very supportive, and proud, that I had entered the SKy Arts Landscape Artist Of The Year competition, and I was pleasantly surprised when it was featured in a magazine.
I started my painting career in 2011 in my maiden name of Sophie Appleton. Soon some big hotels began to purchase my art as well as pubs, offices and homes. The author Lynda Page purchased 7 of my paintings in August and then my first exhibition for local artists was in Hinckley.
From September 2012 a gallery in Lincolnshire (in Spalding) sold several of my paintings and a world wide site released ten of my flower paintings on to post cards in May of that year.
After two years my website had become more popular and I decided to leave the physical galleries and focus on the online customers because it was more flexible around child care. Although around fifteen of my paintings still hang on display in Vision House in Leicestershire to this day. My Facebook page www.facebook.com/SwirlySophArt also began to grow in popularity, with some lovely comments from customers worldwide.
In July 2015 I branched into embroidery again turning six of my paintings into beautiful embroidered sweatshirts and printed bags – via my husband – with our ‘Country Swirls’ range, I built the website www.countryswirls.com just for these garments bags and gifts but after the 2020 shutdown it was to costly to hold onto stock, selling the few remaining on Etsy.
In April 2016 I started a range of Art replicas (prints) around 20 designs. These ran until 2020 when I decided to focus on original art instead of prints.
Trying sizes of artwork in April 2016 from large to small, branching into hand painted A.C.E.O. (miniature paintings) measuring only 64mm X 89mm.
Also that year I designed and made an artists app to bring arty folks together, showcase my art, others art, and suggested topics to paint with live chat for us arty folks. It was accepted on the apple app listing (which is quite an achievement itself). The ‘Swirly Soph Art’ app. A community for painters with live chat. Unfortunately with the 2020 shutdown I could no longer afford to run this app and ‘Swirly Soph Art’ app closed down.
After a busy few years selling over 1,300 original paintings worldwide the sales of my paintings plummeted. I made some big errors. In April 2018 I changed my career name to be my married name of Huddlestone (instead of Sophie Appleton) and also moved from my original www.sixfootsophie.co.uk website to www.sophiehuddlestone.com These decisions affected sales badly because not only did I seem like a new unestablished artist (no one had heard of Sophie Huddlestone) but also my past customers could no longer find me with my new website, nor spell my last name easily or remember it. I tried selling on Redbubble and Amazon but being dyslexic I found there websites difficult to navigate and time consuming.
In June 2018 I began ‘Artist Sophie’ www.artistsophie.com hoping it would be a catchier name, then linking it to this sophiehuddlestone website. It was a website diary blog about anything creative, ideas, artworks in progress, writing music lyrics etc. I made the website myself but after a few years decided it was simpler to just add the blog to this site, and focus just on paintings.
While sales were slow I dedicated the year to learning portraiture and in March 2019 I had my first commission portrait, which was for sporting celebrity Russell Osman.
May 2019; I joined Saatchi Art which is an online art gallery based in Los Angeles and started selling a selection of my original paintings.
In October 2019 I started website swirlysoph.com Hopefully this is a more memorable and catchy name to remember. Popularity of my paintings increased again, creating and selling over 1,500 original artworks worldwide.
In April 2020 Sky Arts ‘Portrait Artist Of The Week’ television show selected some of my portraits to be displayed on the floating wall gallery. My portraits were of Noel Fielding s1 ep6 and Rankin s1 ep3.
In August 2020 Portraits for NHS heroes exhibition – my portrait of ‘Hayley ICU Nurse’ was selected as a permanent record for the NHS heroes among over 700 other artists portraits. This online gallery was an incentive by the Artist Tom Croft and is Google Arts & Culture and Paintings in Hospitals.
Also in 2020 with shut down I had to move from my existing home in Burbage and downscale housing costs. Temporarily living in Hinckley making do on a table in the kitchen and art equipment in boxes surrounding me. Finally in 2022 moving back to the village in a smaller home and setting up a new art studio. Home is where the art is!
2023 begins an exploration of abstract landscapes and portraits. A more abstract way of painting has been a passion put to one side with the demand for cute whimsical art and pet portraits, but as my 50th year of age is approaching and family life is less demanding I have decided it’s now or never to follow that new direction.
March 2023 I became a member of ‘The Hinckley & District Society of Arts’.
Old Examples mentioned above
Example of the Country Swirls sweaters by Sophie. (Update – Only a few remain, no more will be made).
Examples of the limited editions Redbubble – Steampunk Bunny and Eye Color Love collections by Sophie. (Update – Now ended, no more remain).
Example of the phone app made by Sophie, and accepted on the app store.
(UPDATE – This phone app has now ended due to lack of time and 2020 cut backs).
I was thrilled to have my app ‘Swirly Soph Art’ approved to be on the list of available phone apps on the App Store and Google Play. Available for free on the app store IOS phones and also android phones at Google Play. New art on a live feed, occasional quiz competitions, live chat, app users art on display, discount codes on the bargains section etc.