Sophie Elinor Martin

Combing traditional and contemporary materials such as spray paint, plywood and charcoal – Sophie can capture the shifting soulfulness of each and every animal she works on, oozing with vitality, personality and movement.

She has exhibited all around the UK at the Affordable Art Fair and the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year, and most recently will be displaying work at Retreat East – a brand new luxury private member’s country club in the heart of Suffolk.

Her work has been collected in Europe, the US, Asia and Australia.


Q: Your paintings capture the character of your animal subjects with such sympathy. What attracts you to draw animals? Are you an animal lover?

I am a complete animal lover - I started riding horses when I was two and competed around the country from the age of ten. I retired at 23 so for 21 years I was in a partnership with an animal. They are the perfect companion, they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms, they do not judge. I will always be in favour of animal rights and painting them in many ways relaxes me.

Q: What inspires you to draw the specific animals that you do?

Whether they have come from the countryside, my travel experiences or the industrial cityscape I surround myself in, each animal I choose has vitality and personality and I try and capture that shifting soulfulness in each one. I love the emphasis on the eyes which I always start each piece with. Eyes will always be the focal point before I start to work my way out. I like watching my art come to life.

Q: Tell us a little about your process? How do you take a work from idea to completion?

I research images and then I dive straight in head first. I will produce a quick sketch in pencil, followed by charcoal, tape up sections then use paint, usually just spray paint or a little acrylic which I apply gently at first before going in with explosive splatters.

Q: You use an unusual range of materials, what draws you to the materials that you work with?

I like to challenge the use of traditional and contemporary materials such as spray paint and charcoal, a bit like a ‘half painting, half drawing’. My style is composed of drips and expressive, spontaneous flecks of paint which is probably an honest reflection of my ‘fidgety’ character - sometimes it works, other times I overdo it and I have to sand it back out and start over.

Q: Which artists have inspired the development of your work?

When I first started - I was in awe of an artist called Valerie Davide who depicted hilarious charcoal animals - particularly cows. She was probably the inspiration to experiment with the features and not necessarily make the work look like a photographic representation. Today I take inspiration from artists such as Conor Harrington, Charming Baker, and Vexta - their work, although very different, have elements I try and learn from.

I discovered the art of Dave White a bit later - we have similar subject matters and I think his work is beautiful.

Q: Your work is collected all over the world. Are there any locations that you feel have really suited your work?

My art career started four years ago in Suffolk where the demand for ‘rural’ animals like livestock, stags and hares was insane. My bees however are all around the world. Australia and New Zealand being the furthest away. I am an avid supporter for saving our bees so I love that they have been so popular - I think we forget how important these delicate little insects are to our lives and the environment.