Sophie Skarbek

1. What part of the process of creating art do you like best?
Thank you for inviting me to be the focus of the 'Spotlight on........ What I like best about the creative process is starting, can't wait to put down colours when I have an idea of what I am going to paint.

2.    What is your working environment like?
I have converted my dining room into a studio. This works well as I have a large table, a movable easel and movable storage for my art materials. The room has large top to bottom windows so there is plenty of light, especially in the afternoon. When friends come to dinner they love being surrounded by all this 'artistic energy'.

3.    What kind of (formal & informal) art training have you had?
I have studied art with Helen Brack at the CAE evening classes for many years. Also have attended numerous workshops with various professional artists in Australia and overseas. This is an ongoing process and I keep on learning as much as I can.

4.    How has your art training affected the kind of art you produce?
As my tutors had such individual approaches to art, I believe I have picked up various trends and techniques. Some of my work is figurative and some abstract. My subject matter is fairly broad as well and ranges from human and animal form to still life and landscape.

5.    Name some important influences and inspirations in your art career.
The greatest influence on my art would have been gained by being 'immersed' in art. from an early age........ books, galleries and exhibitions. And of course, the teaching of my tutors,  notably Helen Brack, Ross Davis and Diane Calke. Helen is a fine colourist and stressed using 'families of colour', mixing colours to produce various tones and shades. Ross was dynamic, he would take us into the Australian bush or Spanish countryside and make us do many fast colour studies, then back in the studio we would choose  a couple to work on. This was always combined with poetry reading, transporting me to a different world where I could get absolutely. deliciously lost. Diane's life drawing classes were absolutely fantastic, long poses, short poses, lots of charcoal and lots of energy. The aim was to free us, no tight stuff here. Loved it.

6.    What has been the most difficult thing you have encountered in your work?
I find preparatory drawing the most difficult  part  of my work. I know drawing is the essential basis for art but quite often I just start painting and see what happens. Another difficulty is knowing when to stop, I am often more satisfied with my art if it is not overworked, then it can easily loose it's ' freshness'.

7.    Have there been major turning points in your art career?
Yes, I guess having the guts to put on my first solo exhibition. This is a completely different experience to having a few pieces in a group show. Terrific responsibility to hang one's work on the pristine white walls of a gallery knowing that people will come, will look, will like or dislike. The pervading feeling is of excitement mixed with anxiety.......Is the work good enough !!!!!

8. What has been the highlight of your art career?
Some of the highlights of my career have actually been through exhibiting, now that I am used to it, I love it.  I love the excitement, the anticipation, the feeling of something accomplished when the works are framed and ready to go and the buzz of opening nights. There was also the most wonderful time spent painting in Spain with Ross Davis. Being surrounded by breathtaking color and scenary and totally immersed in art was definitely the pinnacle of my artistic life.

Spanish Moon 30 x 30 cm, Acrylic on canvas, by Sophie Skarbek
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