Artist Sophie Larrimore’s works are reclaiming the word kitsch, with playfully bold paintings which go right to the edge of the canvas – and her imagination. Bordering on abstraction and figuration, Sophie’s paintings invite the viewer to look and look again as you start to question what it is the poodles who star in her paintings are actually doing.
Growing up in Maryland, Sophie didn’t go to a traditional school, instead spending much of her time drawing and making, “I liked being alone and working for hours on a drawing,” she tells It’s Nice That. After dabbling with other creative outlets, it wasn’t until she headed up the coast to New York that she began to find her way in painting.
Finding her niche within the medium, Sophie explains that the dogs who fill her paintings began when she realised that if I could find a way to make a good dog painting then anything was possible,” she tells us. “Dogs are funny. They also mean so many things to people.” Interestingly enough, Sophie isn’t much of a dog person, but uses her fluffy subjects in order to push herself as a painter as “they are a way to make a work which explores colour, texture and form.”
Time was the key element in helping Sophie form her own visual language. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, it took her nearly 15 years to free up her painting style and shake off early habits of imitating images. “I don’t look at images when I’m working,” she says, “if I look directly at a reference I just get stuck in rendering.”
Likening painting to performance, Sophie realised she could make work that didn’t need to be defined, “the agony of having to create something out of a blank surface, nothing, every time – I guess that challenge appealed to me,” she says. Now her process involves keeping a pocket-sized sketchbook on her at all times in order to draw out compositions as soon as they enter her mind. Which happens a lot. “Once I made the choice that everything needed to come from my head, the work grew and opened up,” she tells us.
On her next body of work, Sophie talks of a big shift: “I’ve got a bit more space to consider how to move forward and what may be next. It’s a good and terrifying place.” Perhaps cats?