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Continuing our artist profile series in partnership with Barcelona Academy of Art, we're excited to introduce Sofia Wicks, another talented student whose creative journey has taken her from Dallas, Texas to the vibrant city of Barcelona. In this interview, we'll learn how Sofia transitioned from political science to fine art, exploring her creative process, artistic influences, and the valuable experiences she's gained while studying at the prestigious BAA. Read on to find out how Sofia's passion for figurative oil painting has blossomed into a promising artistic career.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a figurative oil painter originally from Dallas, Texas. I am currently based in Barcelona, finishing my studies at the Barcelona Academy of Art. I really started getting more into painting and drawing in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was immediately drawn to figurative art and dedicated myself to learning more of the technical aspects of how to draw and paint realistically. 

 

What’s your preferred art medium and why?

I love painting with oils, I find that it is the medium that I can have the most freedom to explore color and texture with. Oil painting is also very forgiving and you can repaint or rework an area endless times to get it just right.

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How did you get started as an artist?

I graduated university with a degree in political science and then worked in Washington DC for some years with the hope of returning to school to become a lawyer. However, when the pandemic began, I found myself working from home with a lot more time on my hands. At that point I got bit by the art bug and spent endless hours learning to draw and paint portraits. I became completely addicted to it and decided that I needed to make a big life change and pursue a career in art. I continued to work and save money until I was ready to make the leap!

In July  2022, I quit my full time job in DC and moved to Barcelona to study at the Barcelona Academy of Art (BAA). I have used all of my savings to pay for school and continue to work part time remotely to help fund my journey. I am graduating from BAA this summer and I am excited for the next leap into really developing my personal work. 

 

What’s your favorite thing about studying at art school?

Studying at art school has been invaluable for several reasons, particularly the community aspect. Being in a school with so many like minded individuals to learn from and brainstorm ideas with has given me an environment I have never had access to before. I have made lifelong friends during my time in school and I am so excited to see how we all continue to build our art careers! 

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Tell us about your creative process.

My creative process really starts whenever I have time alone with my thoughts. For me that comes in the way of my morning runs. During my runs, I have time to reflect and process whatever I may be going through at a certain time. I usually have an image or idea pop into my head and then I begin to develop it. I start to look through Pinterest, listen to the music I connect with during that time, and sketch out the initial idea in Procreate. Once my idea starts to take shape, I take a series of reference photos, or look at photos I have taken in the past. Almost all of my work involves my friends and family so I feel a personal connection to the piece I am creating. Over the process of painting the work, it tends to evolve into a journal entry, changing and developing along with whatever thoughts are circling in my head. 

 

Barcelona has an incredible art scene. Do you have any favorite spots in the city that inspire creativity?

Whenever I am in a creative lull, I love to go to museums. My favorite ones to go to are the European Museum of Modern Art and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. 

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 Where else do you find inspiration?

I find a lot of inspiration from music. I try and make new playlists for each new month or season and the songs I choose really influence the art I make.

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What are your biggest artistic influences?

I love looking at work from other artists, either from the past or recent times. I am currently really inspired by Colleen Barry, Nick Alm, and Alex Kanevsky. Some artists I always look back on are Egon Schiele, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Ramon Casas, Joaquin Sorolla, and Ignacio Pinazo Camarlanch.  

 

What piece of art are you most proud of?

I think I am most proud of my recent piece titled “Overthinking.” I painted it over a time where I felt a lot of uncertainty around love and it is the most vulnerable piece I have completed. It is about the web of thoughts and emotions we all feel in relationships. Relationships bring out our insecurities and force us to face our own demons head on. The painting is meant to convey how  the swirling thoughts can often create a distance even in the closest of relationships. In the piece, I show the isolation that can happen when one person is stuck in their own fears, slowly fading away from reality.

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Could you tell us about a challenge you’ve encountered as an artist and how you’ve worked to overcome it?

I think the biggest barrier for me in the art world has been the financial burden of school, supplies, and time. I have been able to work part time to keep myself afloat and I feel very lucky to have the ability to work and go to school at the same time. It is challenging to fund artistic training, but there are always ways to make it work!

 

What advice would you give to artists just starting out?

If you are just starting your art career, my biggest advice would be to be patient. When I started drawing human figures, I struggled with the technical aspects and felt that there was a huge gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. It took (and continues to take) a lot of practice and “failures” before getting to a finished product I was happy with. I still feel there is a steep mountain to climb in my technical ability but it is really encouraging to see how the small steps and practice sketches accumulate over time!

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What is your favorite Castle Arts product and why?

I love the Castle Arts Pasteltint Colored Pencils. The range of colors and the texture offered by the pencils are perfect for what I need. I like to add some mixed media to paintings or drawings with colored pencils to finish off the works and make them my own.

 

If you dream of becoming a painter like Sofia, our 72-piece painters' bundle is just the thing to get you started. Save 52% on three of our essential paint sets, with 24 watercolor, acrylic, and oil paints for just $49.99. They come with everything you need to experiment and find your style, including expert art tips and tutorials to help you master each medium.

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