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Into the Artist’s Studio with Sophie Derrick

In celebration of the colours of summer, we sat down with artist extraordinaire, Sophie Derrick to explore her practice in all its hyper-chromatic forms. Her approach is a unique mixture of media that draw on colour to re-present form in a heightened manner. She’s kindly offered a behind-the-scenes account of how these pieces unfold, as well as some insights into choosing the right one for your interior and how to display it originally once you’ve got it. Read on for the inside scoop…

How do you start a new artwork? Can you walk us through your process?

Colour is the starting point, really. I get lots of inspiration from random places like interiors magazines, fashion, art - lots of different places. Then I collect samples and pull everything together as a working colour palette that forms the basis of a piece.

From there, I’ll paint a canvas, creating a background that I place behind me. Then I paint directly onto myself, building up layers of colour. At that point, I get photographing, with my painted self against my painted backdrop.

I paint other people as commissions as well, but for most of my main series, I use myself as the subject. Then I take tons and tons of photos and choose about six to eight of them to have printed as acrylic prints. Once they’re ready, I paint directly on top of the prints. It’s a process of layering, beginning with the painted background, then my painted self, then the print, then the painted print. So, really, it’s a mixture of painting, photography, and a slight element of sculpture as well.

How do you choose complementary colours for your artwork?

I always have a few base colours. In the Cornflower Blue print that we’re giving away from my Colour Me Happy collection I’ve included a beigey colour as a base to bring it all together. I think that works quite nicely, having a more neutral base and then layering it out with really bold colours.

I start with a pre-planned colour palette, which I translate into four different backgrounds for a shoot. I use those as my core colour backgrounds and then I build my palette up first with neutrals then brighter hues. It’s all about layering.

Are there any original display techniques that you think are particularly effective?

I’ve seen quite a lot of people hanging art on picture chains recently. So, you attach a frame and then you can hang the work from a picture rail or directly on a wall using the chain. I think that’s quite a cool way to do it.

Many people are also going for the classic gallery wall but implementing it in a more sporadic way. Rather than spacing each artwork equally in a very structured format, they’re going for a more spacious feel. You can hang things in random spots and I think it looks quite cool when it all comes together.

Do you have any guidance on how to choose art in line with an existing interior scheme?

Even in the case of very colourful artworks, you can sift through, teasing out the hues you’d like to use as a link to your interior. I’ve got a lot of neutrals in my home, for example, which I’ve balanced with quite a few gallery walls of really bright, colourful art. So, I pick out some colours from those works and echo them as cushions, throws, rugs, and so on

It seems people can be a bit scared of having really bright, colourful artwork. If you’re reluctant to go all-out colour-wise, I do think it works well to temper bursts of vibrant art with a more neutral interior scheme, retaining a sense of calm and harmony.

What are your favourite colour palettes of the moment?

I’d say the print that we’re giving away is a great representation of my favourite palette of the moment. I’m seeing a lot of those slightly pastel colours with really bold accents coming through. I’m really into that. I love all the bright colours like cornflower blue; those are my favourite ones. I do some pieces in calmer, more pared-back colours - I like them too, but I’m really drawn to the bolder ones, naturally.

If you like what you see (and how could you not?) you can enter to win an artwork by Sophie as well as a £250 Arlo & Jacob voucher! Together we’re giving away a piece called Cornflower Blue, a limited edition A3 print from her Colour Me Happy Collection. It’s an instant interior and mood-booster, which uses colour to captivating effect. Head over to our Instagram grid to enter for your chance at winning!

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