Sophie creates soft, delicate floral watercolors like a breath of fresh air.
Let's talk to her a little bit.
What’s your background? How did you get started painting?
Art has always been my passion and part of my identity, but I didn’t think I could turn it into a stable career. I ended up going to business school and later started a second degree in political science & public administration studies, but still felt that something was missing.
This journey has really shown me how important it is to follow that inner voice and intuition – following what others or society expects of you will never make you happy and I am so grateful I have truly come to understand that.
“This journey has really shown me how important it is to follow that inner voice and intuition.”
What inspires you to paint?
I take most of my inspiration from nature, how it constantly evolves and grows, even in the
harshest circumstances. Especially the first green leaves emerging after winter and then growing into lush, strong plants come summer are simply magical to me.
Do you listen to music when you’re painting?
I often have it on in the background, but don’t really listen to it, or end up turning it off. I wish I could listen to podcasts while painting, I do try, but once I start painting I am so focused and ‘in the zone’ that I can’t even listen to anything anymore!
Why do you use the medium you use? Did it take you a while to find the right fit for yourself?
Watercolor is currently my medium of choice and oh my it took a while to get here. I had used them before as a teenager but just couldn’t get it right and gave up in frustration.
I previously stuck to acrylics and oil paint, but have always loved trying out different mediums. Now that I got the hang of working with watercolors it’s what I use 90% of the time.
I simply love the soft, airy look of watercolors and that pieces often look so different when they’ve fully dried vs. when they’re wet, so no piece can ever be ‘perfect’ but instead is loose and natural.
What’s the scariest part about painting for you?
The beginning stages of painting can sometimes be a struggle, fear of my work not being good enough, not turning out the way I envision it and thus feeling like I’m ‘wasting’ materials.
It’s always good to remind myself to simply enjoy my time painting and not too worry too much about the results. Ironically, the pieces I just paint ‘for fun’ often turn out much better than the ones I worry about and try to paint perfectly, so it’s best to just let go and have fun.
Do you have an online presence? Is it stressful managing that side of your work?
I’m currently building this side of my business (website coming soon), and it can be stressful! It’s a whole new world with new skills to learn, so it can be a little overwhelming at times.
Honestly this whole ordeal has really delayed my progress. Thankfully I pushed through and came out more confident at the end, but it just goes to show that nothing worth having ever comes easy. For all other artists out there struggling with this side of the business, I can say it does get better and that there are so many resources out there to help you out, so don’t give up!
I absolutely love your feed. It's cohesive, it's beautiful. It's like walking into a beautiful, clean Victorian house to sit down for tea. Did it take you a while to get the hang of making a feed this beautiful or did it come naturally to you?
Aw, thank you! Absolutely, I think it took me about a year to kind of find my ‘style’ when it comes to my Instagram feed. I find many things inspiring and beautiful and literally take thousands of photos a year, so narrowing it down to images that fit my brand was crucial.
I have a mix of photos that I use. Some photos are taken in our small studio apartment, some are stock images and most are from my childhood home. I actually just turned half of my old room there into a studio space, so you will be seeing lots of that very soon.
You like to stick with the same range of colors - is there any particular reason you chose those colors or is that just what you're inspired by right now?
I truly love these colors and they match my interior design taste, so everything I paint I can use to decorate as well. I do use other colors too, but those paintings often don’t make it to my social media presence – at least for now – since I think it’s especially important to present a cohesive brand in the beginning. But I do think that my work will always consist of more muted pastel colors, regardless of what I’m painting.
Do you like to use specific watercolor brands or types of paper?
Yes, and this is such a science…it took me a while to find out which paper was the right choice for me. I use a local German brand that as far as I know is only available here. Overall I like to use paper that is pure white (many watercolor papers are more off-white) and ‘mat’, so it is quite smooth and has very little texture to it so doesn’t absorb the paint as much as other papers do.
Do you use reference photos for your work?
I do, not to ‘literally’ paint them, but to capture the atmosphere and light of the scene I’m painting off of. I’m not too good with painting realistically and just prefer to paint my own impression of my reference photo and let the mood of the photo guide me.
Do you choose a color palette for each piece/collection that you work off of?
Yes! I typically have a scene/mood/space where the art is supposed to go in mind when starting a new painting. Sometimes actually all I have in mind when starting a painting is a certain color or color palette, so they play a huge role in my creative process.
How much planning goes into each piece/collection or do you go by intuition?
My initial ideas for paintings always come to me spontaneously, so I just quickly type them into the notes on my phone. After that, I look through my ideas and develop a theme and/or color palette, but once I start painting I love going with the flow and letting the artwork guide me. Art is a very intuitive process for me and it’s supposed to be fun after all. I think planning too much and trying to stick to plans strictly ultimately leads to creative block and frustration.
Do you feel like living in Germany influences your artwork?
Yes, I’m from Germany, but have had the opportunity to live in other countries like the United States as well. It definitely does. Subject matter alone I think is very much influenced by an artist’s surroundings, even if they’re temporary ones like a vacation, but I think where you live or are from always shows in your artwork. For example, I’d love to paint more tropical subjects, too, as I’ve lived in Miami and Singapore and they still inspire me to this day, but it just wouldn’t fit right now with where I live.
Where do you think your artwork is heading in the future?
I’ve definitely seen more of a push towards abstract paintings and think that will likely continue to evolve. Also, I plan on getting into surface pattern design in the future to design textiles and paper products, so stay tuned for that!
Sophie Williams is a floral watercolor painter and living in Germany. Follow her @sophiewilliamsstudio or follow her on Pinterest.