Sophie Ellen

“I’m pretty sure everyone sees the world slightly differently, but I wish to share with you my view, which, from what I have been told, is very unique, however I know no difference!

My name is Sophie, I have Autism, suffer from severe anxiety and a somewhat manageable obsession with Disney and Pajamas! Am completely self taught- after suffering a mental breakdown at the age of 18 I was never able to attend art school so dedicated my time to teaching myself.

To sum up, I draw highly detailed images. I cover Paper stumps in graphite powder or charcoal to make my marks, it takes many layers to build up each piece. The topic areas and themes of my artwork may at first appearance be very random. I have a highly detailed Indian Chief in one piece and Einstein in the next. I feel that the best way to explain my art is to explain myself, so here goes.

Let me take you on a journey into my mind…

Imagine you are standing in my brain, it is a bit what I imagine floating in space feels like, surrounded by a sea of random points.

Imagine having no sense of s p a c e or time, an hour can literally feel the same as one minute.

There is no real distinction between what is real and what is imaginary.

I often have a very hard time separating real life from dramatized events or characters. I may be walking my dog and see a large dark shape, my brain tells me it’s the grim reaper and instantly goes into flight or fight response. To me it is just as real as it being someone’s dustbin. Things I see on TV – I can never tell what is acting and what is real.

Everything is random, memories and thoughts float about; last week feels the same as ten years ago.

There is a breakdown between what my eyes see and what my brain interprets and understands. Most of the time I simply don’t understand the world around me. Life is like trying to peer through a fog.

No matter how hard you try, you can sort of make things out but often it is wrong and the closer you get things don’t become any clearer.

Moving through the world is like standing in front of a screen in fast forward on a video tape. I am standing watching this mass of people, stuff and language zoom past, surrounding me. I often ask myself why people have to go so fast.

When I see something, I never see the whole image. It’s like my brain doesn’t have enough computing power to cope, so instead it just makes my eyes take things in in small chunks like jigsaw pieces. I see all the tiny details and marks first, a slight shadow across someone’s nose, a freckle on their chin, and slowly all these pieces slip together and I realize I’m looking at a face.

When I draw, I draw how I see the world at my pace.

Everything goes quiet.

Each image is broken down piece by piece and closely examined and drawn.

My sincere hope is that when people see my art they stop, feel a sense of escapism, let themselves get lost in each tiny mark flowing together to form a shape and feel the world around them slow down, even just for a second. People’s lives seem so busy and hectic in today’s society, it seems to me that people are missing out on seeing the beautiful tiny details around us.

So there we have it. Boy, that was exhausting to write! I hope that gives you some understanding of the broad theme of my work- detail.

Now for those of you who are still with me; I wish to tell you briefly about my influences. Although the individual themes of my art may appear random, these influences are present, if you look closely enough.

Masking. This is a major part of my life. HUGE. I have become an expert at it if I do say so myself. People only show you what they want you to see in this world so masking is when you put on a different face, one you think is more socially acceptable to fit in. The face you think the world should know you by because it is too scary to be yourself.

I have been masking ever since I first started school. I used to watch the other girls and mimic exactly what they did on the playground. I used to hear a conversation, remember it exactly and then go and repeat it with someone else (so it appeared I was having a topical conversation with them). I used to store conversations I had heard in my head and re-use them a lot.

This is a major influence in my art. Do we ever really know the person standing in front of us or the celebrity we see in the spotlight? Einstein is one of my heros. He is claimed to be a scientific genius but no one ever seemed to understand what was going on in his head.

Mental health always influences my art.

I asked myself the question- why do I draw? Why bother presenting myself to the world and not just keep my art for myself? Surely that would be a lot less stressful, and anxiety ridden for someone with extremely low self-esteem?…

It is because I am an extremely passionate and determined person. I was never able to study art due to a mental breakdown and lack of support at University but have dedicated my time to teaching myself. I work with Autistic children at a Special Needs school and all I want to do is have a positive impact on this very large scary world.

It is my hope to raise awareness and increase people’s understanding of both Autism and mental health by celebrating seeing the world differently. If my art can help just one person achieve this, then my mission is complete.”