Sophie Crichton (b. 1993) is an abstract painter from Toronto currently based in Barcelona. Her works are a visual manifestation of her experience, her interaction with urban environments, and an awareness of urban pop culture.Tell us your story, why did you become an artist?I’ve always been a creative person since I was a child and that is due in part because I grew up in a creative environment. My parents are both creatives and so I was exposed to art and design from the beginning; developing my eye. My parents taught me how to look/see and this helped me form an artistic sensibility. I studied at OCAD University and Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto but it was when I moved to Barcelona my practice got quite serious. I’ve always had an impulse and instinct to create and express, and as I got older it became very apparent that this is who I am and I needed to go deeper into this way of being and living. I’m an artist so that I can engage with, react to, and process the world. It’s a way to communicate with people and most of all a way of being.
When you create a new work, how do you go about it? What comes first?
I almost always start with playing music, so I can get into a mode of creation and set the tone. This sets the pace- paintings have a rhythm and listening to music helps me keep a rhythm and get into a flow state. I keep a sketchbook that I am always adding to, I draw rough and intuitive paper sketches, akin to automatic drawing, and have them all around my studio. Sometimes I then reference these ideas, incorporating a certain palette or visual language from one of the sketches into the paintings. I will look at the energy or mood of a sketch as a reference for a painting I am starting. Most of the time however, I start with a palette in mind and begin painting directly- even if I have a pre-conceived idea of the work it always takes on a life of it’s own. So in this way it’s sort of a dance between raw intuitive energy unfolding on the canvas- drawing on references from my subconscious- and moments of pause and discernment. There is a lot of time where I spend looking and contemplating the next steps of a work. My works are highly layered- I work in a way of adding and subtracting- sometimes defacing the work... this allows different elements to come forth and recede and creates depth and a visual language. Technically I love experimenting with different materials and mediums- whether it’s grainy paint, bleeding washes, or scratched away paint and frenetic scribbled lines. I love how textures and layering can create a mood. What can you tell us about your studio, what makes it special to you and how does it influence the way you work?
As I draw a lot of influence from my experience in the city of Barcelona, my studio is a very special place to me. It is in the heart of Barcelona in the vibrant and intense neighbourhood of El Raval. There is always a lot to take in and a lot happening there. It feels culturally diverse and there is street art and a very active skate scene- so it feels like there is a lot to be inspired by. I live ten minutes walking from my studio, so I spend most of my time in and around this area. I sort of thrive off the chaos of urban experiences. The light in my studio is beautiful natural light, so I really get to enjoy the long Spanish summer sun. My studio is owned by the Catalan artist Elisabet Mabres, and it’s been great to meet her and learn of her work. I have sketches around everywhere and art books and have even drawn on the walls of my studio- I’ve created my universe- so when I’m there it really is a sanctuary of creation and possibility. Is there a work of art in your life that has especially impressed you?
I love Arshile Gorky’s Last Painting 1948. The intense gestures and heavy contrast have a profound poignancy and it seems to me, the work was ahead of it’s time. I also love Basquiat’ Untitled (Two Heads On Gold 1982). Katherine Bernhardt’s Blue Skies 2018 and her shark paintings, and everything Joyce Pensato.
Reach to the stars: where will you be in 5 years?
I would like to release an art book including text and photos about my practice as well as my photography. I would like to have galleries with my work in LA, NYC and Tokyo. I’m looking forward to exploring immersive experiences/installation again and also sculpture. I will be in love and a little drunk on life, surrounded by dreamers, makers, and visionaries.Learn more about the artist: