Student Artist Spotlight: Sophie Bryer


Last month, the Art Appreciation Society (GUAAS) highlighted a number of amazing student artists as they hosted their [Your Text Here] exhibition at The Project Café. It was a wonderful opportunity for all to come together and admire the skill and passion a number of our students at U.of.G, have for the arts. Over the course of this month we will be shining the spotlight on a number of artists that displayed with GUAAS, so that even if you missed the exhibition you won’t have to miss out on the appreciation! Be sure to give  G-YOU, and GUAAS,  a like to keep up with any events we or they may have coming up!

First up: Sophie Bryer!

Marion Sitting in Colour, Chalk pastel on paper, 2012. 

What course do you study and what year are you in?

I’m in my fourth and final year of Philosophy.

What does your work aim to say?

My two pieces of work aim to depict a rich African beauty in both subjects: Ayoola [bottom] and Marion [top], using two different styles of painting. They do not in themselves contain a message, other than my appreciation and love of portraiture which I hoped to be communicated to the audience.

Why did you choose this aim?

 I chose this aim because, for me, portraiture is what art is all about. I have completed commissions of beaches, buildings, animals, and many more for other people – yet my absolute preference in all art is, and always has been, the interpretative depiction of other people. I chose to depict someone who was close and of importance to me, contrasted with someone who was a stranger to me.

Who/what are your biggest influences?

One of my biggest artistic influences is Maggi Hambling in her style of painting portraits. She uses very lively and often colourful brushstrokes which are by no means aiming for mimesis (direct imitation of reality; in the case of art, photorealism) in the subject’s depiction. Chris Ofili’s ‘Self-Portrait’ influenced me in a similar way to Maggi, with regards to his expression of portraiture using very visible brushstrokes and showing off the texture and beauty of the paintwork itself as opposed to recreating reality as precisely as possible. For the works individually, however, the Leith School of Art, of course, influenced me in the case of ‘Marion Sitting in Colour’; as they were teaching the course on which I completed this work, whilst my relationship at the time with Ayoola was in many ways what influenced me in his portrait.

What made you decide to use your particular medium and style?

The reason I used acrylic paint for Ayoola, and chalk pastel for Marion, and why I used it in the way I did, is the same reason I appreciate the artists Hambling and Ofili. I love the thick texture of the paint, as well as the versatility in smudging and blending of the pastel, and both mediums are excellent for use of strong and rich colours. As much as I can appreciate and be impressed by photorealistic art, I am most drawn to and aesthetically pleased by accurate representations but through the visible texture of the brushstrokes and individual colours used.

What made you choose this (these) piece(s) for this exhibition?

These pieces were unconnected prior to the exhibition, created years apart and completely unrelated to one another. The reason they were both chosen for the exhibition was the vibrant and warm yet contrasting portrayals of two black muses, in a Scottish society which is not known for its ethnic diversity. Something else they share in common is the unplanned nature of both pieces – whilst painting Ayoola was something I’d intended to do for some time; when I did create the painting, I had not planned or thought through how I wanted the piece to look. Likewise, I had not premeditated Marion’s pose or the colours I would use to depict her, nor was I familiar with her appearance prior to the portrait.

What was your artistic process of creating these pieces?

‘Ayoola’ was created spontaneously, in procrastination when I had intended to complete a commissioned artwork. It was completely free painted onto a spare canvas, without any pencil or charcoal rough drawing providing any guide prior to applying the paint. His face is composed of lots of very short, separate, thick brushstrokes, whilst his tight coiled hair required a twisting technique with a much smaller paintbrush. Blue undertones were used as a cold contrast with the warm red of his lips, and I traced the outline of his side profile with white for a neatened edge against the white canvas.

‘Marion sitting in colour’ was created in the space of roughly 20 minutes at one of my first life drawing classes; as in the creation of ‘Ayoola’, there was no prior planning as to how the piece would turn out, except for the fact that I knew I wanted to use as much colour as possible. My technique here was a mixture of strong definite lines with the pastel and smudging shape and shading of her figure and surroundings.

Are you on any social media that people could follow you up on?

My Instagram account is ‘sophierfbryer’ – but for solely arty ventures I have my own hashtag #srfb_art for people to follow if they want to see what art I get up to.

Ayoola, Acrylic paint on canvas, 2017.

-Questions: David Nkansah

-Art and Words: Sophie Bryer 



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