If you followed our holiday campaign this December, you likely fell in love with the amazing still-life painting of our favourite products. The artist is Sophie Edell, a Quebec-based painter and multi-disciplinary artist who specializes in everyday still-lifes and landscapes. Early in the year she moved from Montreal to the Eastern Townships, near the Quebec-Vermont border. Inspired by her new surroundings, she's been producing a body of work that ranges from epic scenery to messy dinner tables.
It's almost the new year. What are you thinking about heading into 2021?
For 2021, I am thinking about exploration. My change of environment this year benefited my artistic practise in an unprecedented way: I learned to see my surroundings with a fresh perspective everyday, noticing more how everything looks and feels as we move in and out of seasons. Painting has been a wonderful way to explore through examination, looking closer at the surroundings in my home, as well as those outside.
Current favourite dinner?
I recently bought a dutch oven, and I can't believe I lived so long without one. Second to my dutchy's ability to bake delicious crusty bread, my favourite thing about it is being able to dump a bunch of ingredients in and put the whole thing into the oven for a while. My current go to is a combination of barley, lentils, tomatoes, and any vegetables I happen to have on hand, with some sumac, feta, and maple syrup for extra flavour.
What brings you pleasure these days?
Some of my long standing pleasures include discovering interesting wines, working on puzzles - both the jigsaw type and from my grocery store puzzle book - and relaxing with my cat, Kevin. Lately, sitting down and painting an image from start to finish has been ranking number one on my list of pleasures. That satisfaction of bringing a new image into the world is something I look forward to every day, I really love to paint at night and then wake up to see how it looks in the diffused sunlight that comes through my windows.
What daily routine can you not live without?
For the last few weeks, I've been holed up in my little house with no transportation, and no shopping or activities in walking distance. During this time, I have found a daily walk to be the best way of clearing my head. These walks are where I capture the subject matter for the "Mini Landscapes" I've been painting, and so these little paintings have become excellent motivation. There is a road around the corner that traverses a big hill, and after a twenty minute walk up the hill you turn around to see an amazing view of the countryside and a panoramic sky. I love to go up to that hill just to see how that view will look on any given day, with the changing clouds and snow falls that come and go, it never gets old!
Country living vs. City living?
Having grown up in Toronto, and lived in Montreal for the last 12 years, moving to the country has been quite the change of scenery. So far, I love living out here where there is more space, more sky, a river to swim in, and fiddleheads in your backyard. It has been a strange time to move, amid a pandemic that has forced everyone to see their loved ones less, and so I think I will only get the true sense of country living vs city living when there is no more need for distance.
Tell us more about your painting process.
Living in a small house, there's not much room to create larger work and so I have been painting on surfaces of 9" x 12" or smaller. And although this was born out of necessity, this smaller scale has benefitted my practise by allowing me to explore many different palettes, subject matters, and design qualities.
My painting process starts with choosing an image that I captured on my phone recently, then I use painter's tape to create a border and affix the paper to my desk. From there, I paint a solid colour to paint on top of; notable fun ones I love to use are black, and neon pink. A quick sketch with a contrasting colour will dictate the composition (which more often than not changes from what I'd had in mind) and then I play around with colours, textures, brush strokes, patterns, details, layering until I reach what my brain tells me is the completed work.
It is rare that I won't start and finish a painting in the same day, which definitely contributes to deciding when a piece is completed. I never have a specific idea of what a painting will look like when I begin, I prefer to allow the colours and contrasts to interact as the painting is created.
You can follow Sophie @dittoecho on Instagram, or purchase her work here.