Gold Leaf Designs

Artist Statement

Sophie J. Brown

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Why I paint
I paint to share my awareness by creating images which express what it means to be alive, here and now. I like the silent contemplative nature of the painting process, and how visual language allows the imagination to be stimulated by associations, memories and sense impressions. These become embodied in the work and help process and make sense of experience. The viewer is invited to muse, feel, and explore these undertones with me, as well as engage with the surface subject matter.

I like to concentrate on colour and expression, aiming to create colour harmonies that in themselves are clear, pure and vibrant. I find that I often end up doing more detailed paintings than I expect, where the subject (such as architectural detail) demands it! This kind of patience with detail is offset by the exploration of subjects where I work towards a more spontaneous free use of brushwork to express movement, direction and energy, with less emphasis on line. For this reason, I enjoy exploring subjects which are more ephemeral, requiring more painterly interpretations which are less easily bound by line - sea, sky, vegetation.

Subject Matter

Subject matter relates directly to lived experience, responding to whatever resonates for me in nature, or in the human environment. I do not feel a need to restrict subject matter, either in terms of viewpoint (i.e. broad views or close-up views) or type, as, for me, painting is part of life, which in itself is very varied.


For me, painting is part of a process to reveal the true perspective of who I am and what we are in relation to life. In daily living, I find I respond, and am sensitised to, detailed visual stimuli. This sets up an internal process of relating these to mental and emotional experience in a search for meaning and truth. With this kind of observation I build up a store of images, visual metaphors, and visual experiences which seek external expression. Through the process of externalising this in paintings, I find I am able to discover and integrate my experience at a deeper level whilst aiming to tap into the wellspring of our innate nature beyond the ego. This process is supported by, and complements practice in self-awareness and mental training through meditation and mind & body arts.

The painting process

Predominantly working with acrylic paints on cold-pressed watercolour paper, I enjoy the warm, touch-sensitive feel of working on paper, where acrylic paints provide a wide range of textural possibilities, whilst being quite intense in colour saturation. Because the paint dries rapidly, it also ensures that colours are kept clear. I experiment with layers of colour of different amounts of dryness, thickness or fluidity laid down in different orders to provide different visual qualities. In creating a painting, for outdoor subjects, I prefer to work in the studio from sketches and photo-references, as this allows me to re-imagine the scene's essentials and give it my own emphasis, without being distracted.

If working from still-life or indoor subjects, I work from these directly; occasionally I work from imagination as well. I also work in watercolours, when it seems appropriate as, where the subject or colour theme demands it, I find that the greater discipline needed and the "cleaner" feel of working with pure water and paint create a more still, light-enriched effect.


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© Sophie J. Brown 2001 onwards