About me

Originally from the UK, (born in London) I have been living  in Hendaye since 1992 (a coastal town in the French Basque Country). My recent work is based on the natural landscape surrounding where I live.

Although I have a degree in Graphic Design, with a specialisation in illustration, I have always preferred to pursue my own work,  painting & drawing, as a means of self-expression.

I have  drawn & painted ever since I can remember, but several years ago I became aware that this had gradually become an  intermittent practice. This meant that whenever I did practise, I felt I never got  past a certain point which was frustrating.  I decided to  apply myself more seriously from early 2008. Art has returned to being a more integral part of my life which I realise is really important to me.

I’ve got a much clearer sense of what I want from my painting these days, yet at the same time I like to feel that there is a continual exploration going on. So there is always the element of a certain surprise too. I am especially interested in how & what it is in the  structure of a  composition that  triggers our emotions .

Although my paintings  are obviously figurative, when you look at them closely you can see that the forms often break down into smaller, interlinking flat areas which are quite abstract .

I also teach art at a school in San Sebastian (Spanish Basque Country). The practice of art & the teaching of it are obviously interrelated and affect each other. My practice is a process which provides me with a continual source of ideas, many of which also feed back into my teaching & vice versa.  The artwork of children has a simplicity  that reveals clearly whether there is good composition or not.

 I think I am very  privileged  to live in an area with so much beautiful landscape, which is a continual source of inspiration for me. I hope to share my appreciation of where I live by  drawing attention to its intrinsic value & beauty. Landscape in contemporary art  needs to be given a more prominant place, rather than being considered something of the past, no longer worth exploring. Climate issues, destruction of natural habitats & so on should make it  obvious that urban themes are not somehow superior themes to explore. It’s a question of how, rather than what, to explore.

I am always curious about people’s reactions /interpretations. So please feel free to leave comments.

I would like to hear  especially, though not at all exclusively,  from other artists who are exploring  similar themes and/or  approaches.

If you would like me to send you a price list please don’t hesitate to contact me.


50 thoughts on “About me

  1. Hi Sonya – I love your work – your exhibition is going to be great – I am glad you have found focus – thanks for sharing your work here. Stephen

  2. Hi Sonya. Thank-you for letting me know you exist. Finally some acrylics that i really like. I love your shape and color. Then you put it all together with a 3-d effect that is very contemporary. You go girl!

  3. Your work is fabulous Sonya. I love the graphic quality of your paintings and envy your ability to do that. Regarding your comment on my blog earlier, I believe the gallery owners really meant your work was great when they said so and that they were not just being nice!

    • Thank-you Lauren.
      I should have said that what I was referring to on your blog was many years ago just after I’d finished art school. I think my work has changed a lot since then.

  4. Sonya, your paintings are incredible! I immediately saw the abstract shapes under the representational. What’s going on in some of the clouds is fantastic. I’ve never seen clouds interpreted that way. I love the coast and can feel the distance and open space that you’ve created. What patience you must have to paint those shapes. I can see your love of O’Keeffe, especially in the mountains and hills and the tree in “Path through Spring Oaks.”

    • Well thank-you very much! You have really made me feel like you can see what I’m trying to do & you’ve started me reflecting some more again! (Oh dear!)

      I think there’s an interesting overlap between what we refer to as abstract or figurative & it’s a pity they often have to be put into one box or the other (although of course sometimes that can be appropriate).

      Cézanne for example broke up space using more geometric forms & yet his work is nontheless figurative. Modernism took on board this approach & explored it to a more & more abstract level. This seems to go alongside our scientific era of reductionism & is also fascinating. Science could be said to be a trigger for modernism.

      I feel somehow like I want to incorporate some of those modernist ideals & reintegrate them into an approach that is on a human/emotional as well as a scientific level.

      Sometimes I like to think painting could be some sort of a metaphor for contemprorary western interpretation of the world. For example you can look at a person at the level of DNA, molecules, cells, brain, matter etc. (in the painting these are equivalent to the abstract forms within the structure) & yet you also have the whole person who we respond to at our human scale (in the painting this is what you see & respond to overall when you first look at it).

      Of course I also want to express & share my love of the mountains & the sea, but I probably don’t really need to say that!

  5. Shit! I had no idea you were sooooo good!! The word good doesn’t even cover it. Well done Sonia, you now belong to the Gods! With talent like yours, the world is your oyster.
    Congradulations and I am both proud and honoured to call you my friend and colleague. The indepth artistic analysis will come later, but just for now – you rock, sister!!!

    • Wow, what an enthusiastic response Evelyn! Well, everyone that knows you, knows you’re a very positive person. Thank-you.
      Hope you’re feeling better- & have a good week-end.

      I think I should also say that I hope you (& all other friends & colleagues that live round here) don’t mind me not telling you I have this blog till now. I didn’t want you to all get bored with it by the time I have my exhibition as I’d like you to see my paintings in real!

  6. Hello Sonya
    I am Thomas’s mother. We are really impressed with your artwork. We hope to see your work this weekend.
    we didn’t realize our son’s teacher was such a great artist, no wonder he is enthusiastic about your classes.

  7. Hello Sonia !

    I’m a French lady living in the North of France and, although I’ve not been able to see your exhibition, I luckily know about your blog thanks to a friend living in your region.

    I was immediately taken by your painting. This way you express so much by fitting together so many pieces of THE jigsaw and painting them with just a few colors…It makes me happy.

    It reminds me of my childhood when I spent hours gazing at some illustrated books whose images made me bury myself into dream…

    Thank you so much, Sonia.

  8. Sonya, beautiful work!

    I especially find appealing how the figurative and abstract are really one and the same. This is taken to the point that such distinctions become meaningless.

    I’ve seen some Japanese brush painting where, for example, a couple of brush strokes make up a mountain. Is it figurative or abstract? Though the approach is quite different, the effect is similar.

    I’m looking forward to coming back to explore more! 🙂


    • Thank-you very much.
      I agree with you about the Japanese brush strokes. They have amazing skill, control & such a sense of space to get those lines just in the perfect position.

  9. I am inspired by your story of coming back to your art in a serious way. I saw your work mentioned on Clive’s wonderful blog about artists limited edition prints. I love your images, and look forward to seeing more of them. Perhaps I will start to get back into making art and share it as you and so many others do, via the web.

    An Australian, I spend about half the year in London and half outside Melbourne.

  10. Hi Wendy

    It’s nice to know that someone else is inspired to return to their artwork.
    At first it’s always difficult, but I think if you really want to pursue it you can. That’s not to say it’s easy. Everyone has their own reasons for why it might not be a priority. The sad reality for many people is that it literally can’t be a priority.

    Anyway, I hope that’s not too much your case & thank-you for checking out my work & leaving a comment.

    This is a p.s. – I assumed that when you said I was mentioned on Clive’s blog that it was via a link. I was most surprised when I went back to his site that he’d written a post on me! Thank-you Clive, I’m flattered!

    Clive’s blog has some very beautiful examples of artwork from artists mostly of the 1930s whom he also writes about.

    If you are interested in finding out more about various artists from that era have a look at his blog: http://www.clivechristy.blogspot.com

    Another very interesting blog I have discovered for finding out more on other artists is Sarah’s. She is also an artist herself aside from writing about art.The name of her blog is Curiouscrow . You can get there by clicking on the link in my blogroll or http://www.curiouscrow.typepad.com

  11. I am sorry to have missed your expo…please let me know when another occasion presents itself to see your work!

    • That’s very kind of you:

      I will be having a solo exhibition in Urrugne in August & hopefully participating in the joint exhibition at La Bastide Clairence in July/August. Look here closer to the time & I will put out more information.

      In April I will have 3 recent paintings in the exhibition in Hendaye (Les Halles) “Regards sur Antoine d’Abbadia”. It opens on April 2nd.

      At the moment I have some older works (smaller acrylics & watercolours) on show in the cafeteria expres in San Sebastian as well as some on show in Angel Perez immobilier in Hendaye. I doubt you are about to be thinking of moving house though, as you live somewhere so lovely!

      By the way, your English is excellent.

  12. Fabulous work, Sonya. And inspirational in that your application to focus on your art has helped you to first refind it and then, to grow further.

    I hope yout exhibition goes well and that it gives you the confidence in your obvious talents to continue to take them out to the world. I look forward to following your blog.

  13. Hello Sonya! Thank you very much for visiting and (kindly) commenting my blog. Of course I was curious and had a look at yours: What a nice surprise – Your paintings are faboulous and I love your style: The light pastel colours and the technique with the small “flat” areas are very fine and special 🙂 Although their colours and flat areas are very different – your paintings made me think of a of Danish artist: Bo Bendixen ( http://www.bobendixen.dk/ )

  14. Hello – thank-you for visiting & commenting. It was a funny coincidence actually, as we had just had a friend who lives in Denmark visiting when I discovered your blog (& he lives near Arhus too).
    Having looked briefly at the site of Bo Bendixen I have to confess to not seeing a lot of similarity (other than in a certain linear aspect, but that’s stretching it in my opinion, as you could say that about a lot of art).
    Graphic design doesn’t have to claim this aspect just for itself, after all we don’t call the Italian Renaissance painters graphic designers I think & they were doing very linear artwork well before now.
    I guess it always comes back to our personal experience in the end as to how we interpret things. So if those designs are positive for you I guess it’s good if mine are too.

  15. Hi Sonya
    I just wanted to thank you for the comment you left on my blog. It’s words like yours that act as a real morale boost. I am not a professional artist, but of course aspire to improve and it’s so nice when strangers take time to say something.

    I’ve just spent a very enjoyable time looking back through all your posts and like your style very much. I visited your area of France years ago and your work has brought back lots of memories of the mountains there! Fantastic, i especially like the autumn and winter scenes – perfectly evocative.

    That’s funny to think you know Richmond Upon Thames. The world is indeed a small place!

    Having now found your blog, I look forward to seeing more of your work.

    Best wishes

  16. Hello Alison

    That’s no trouble at all – I like looking at all sorts of artwork, it’s like a constant dialogue, regardless of time or space.

    That is a coincidence that as well as living in an area I used to live in, you once visited the area I now live in!

    Nice to have met you!

  17. I was interested in your paintings ever since I saw a notice saying about your exhibition in hondarribia. The picture on it was amazing.
    Today morning i’ve been in Zuloaga and i’ve seen your works.
    Great work you`ve done. But i must say that i’ve seen your paintings like pictures. I mean it seems to me you’ve gone there take a picture and done your work at home. Don’t misunderstand me, i like it very much. I always have the doubt of what is suitable for a painting and what is for a picture. I still don’t have the answer.
    It is strange but your paintings look much better in the internet or on paper than on canvas.
    And I must say one thing, i envy you for having the knowledge that allows you to paint like you do.

    • If you were expecting my work to be like photo realism then I can see you might be disappointed! I should make it clear that that is not at all what I am aiming to do.
      When my paintings are looked at from a distance or reduced they can seem almost photographic but when you look at them closely they are paintings. When you look at them really closely they can be quite abstract which for me is an important aspect. When any image is reduced or reproduced it loses its plasticity & can also take on a more photographic aspect.
      When you say “picture” I think you mean “photo”? Both paintings & photos are “pictures”. There isn’t something that is only suitable for a photo or only for a painting.

      Thank-you for taking the interest & I’m glad you like it anyway.

  18. Just a couple of things. When I see Larrun mountain with those flowers (Asphodels?) in the foreground I think to myself:’wow, that’s the photo I would like to take. If I were in that place I sure would have taken a photo like that’. And it is amazing for me that somebody else has had the same point of view that I could have had..
    When I see the clouds you paint I can’t stop thinking: ‘I’ve seen those clouds over Larrun hundreds of times and they are like that! A big stratocumulus, I’ve seen it!’ Nothing seems to me more difficult than painting clouds and water. And I like the way you do it.
    Thanks for sparing your time with us.

  19. Thank-you. I took a look at your photos & I enjoyed your way of seeing too. I guess in the end that the choices one makes in “making pictures” is the common ground of all photography, painting , drawing etc. It’s interesting of course how some choices or visions are more similar to each other than others. I suppose that must be a result of all the influences & visual stimulae we have experienced in our lives. It would be impossible to name them all though as we can’t be aware of them all even if we do think we know of some.
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I have to admire your English too – if only I could speak Euskera (& my Spanish could do with some improvement too.) Unfortunately no time for everything though!

  20. Just discovered you whilst typing Montmelard + images into my search engine. Your sketches (1989) came up. I also originate from the UK but now live in Montmelard, curious as to what brought you here. Love your work, the colours and lines. Janice

  21. Hello Janice- that’s really nice for me to think you found my site like that. I went to Montmelard when I had a summer job working on a campsite for an English company who set up tents in the grounds of a beautiful château not far from there. There was a lake in the grounds which I remember swimming in (despite it being full of frogs & snakes!)
    When I wasn’t having to organise tents for English customers I used to go off exploring the area either on a moped or else for a walk & taking my sketchbook along. I remember it as very idyllic with lanes full of wildflowers & lots of charollais cows everywhere. Also I had just met the person I am now married with (who I had previously met on another site in Bourgogne/Burgundy & was then whisked away from to work as a courrier by myself near where you live!). After we finished working on our respective campsites we travelled round a bit together in France before then going back to England & then later on coming to live first in Spain & then in France So I remember it as a very special time!

    I wonder if it’s changed much round there – I remember going to eat in a bar /restaurant in Montmelard at one time when some other courriers came to visit – there are good views from there as far as I recall.

  22. Hi Sonya,
    I’m a nature artist based in Rome.
    I just discovered your work and the acrylics are really fascinating. They look like silkscreens and are vivid and full of light, depht and contrast. The way you render clouds is really unique. Personally I find the watercolours need a little more courage, the pigments being really diluted. I’ll follow your blog from now on.

  23. Hi Concetta – thanks for leaving a comment – I think you’re right about the watercolours because they do look very washed out here. They are of course much paler than the acrylics anyway, but they photographed really badly. I’m not too fussed though because I haven’t been using watercolour for almost 3 years & at the time I wanted to explore the delicacy of them in a flat way. Probably I’d use them completely differently now. In fact many years ago I used to use them very strongly but that was without building up layers.

  24. Hi Sonya,

    I just stumbled on your blog for no reason what-so-ever and by the gods am I glad I did! Your work is splendid!

    Though I’m a programmer by profession, art is my hobby and passion, and I paint mostly with acrylics.

    Recently though, I’ve been feeling dried out and lost and was looking on the web for ideas/motivation/inspiration and I have to say your work and techinque has given me tons of ideas. Thank You So Much!

    One can just look at your work for hours and continue finding interesting aspects. I’m thrilled on how you combine the tiny abstract shapes to produce a figurative whole.

    I work as a 3D programmer bulidng 3D game worlds, and come to think of it, that’s exactly what we do too, use small basic shapes to build whole models that appear to have structure.

    You’ve inspired me so much I’m afraid some of my work is now bound to get effected by You 🙂 though I promise to do my best not to consiously start copying You.

    Warmest greetings from a very cold Estonia!

    • Hi Tahir,

      What a hugely encouraging comment to find awaiting me after a day’s teaching. I’m flattered that you are so inspired by my work as to think it might influence you! When I”m teaching children I’m constantly having to show them the fine line between influence & learning from each other, as opposed to simply copying someone else’s idea outright. I think the first one is what culture & creativity is all about though, so if you feel influenced I think this is what happens when we appreciate or are moved by something. Interestingly, children do seem to have a very strong sense of what they see as something personal stolen from them when they feel like someone’s simply copied them rather than done something a bit similar (usually because of the initial input & materials etc)..

      Interesting that you are a programmer & can see the connection with shapes combining or else being broken down. Another example I think of how making art is to do with a way of thinking & a way of seeing which is transversal. If only more people would realise this it would be more highly regarded in education & society as a whole.

      Let me know when you feel like showing some of your artwork

      Good luck

      Ps. I’m very impressed by your excellent English, presuming it isn’t your first language ?

  25. Hello again Sonya,

    Thank You for the compliment =)
    You guessed it right, English is not my mother tongue, that would be Indian =) It’s probably the couple years I spent in London, or else Sir Arthur C. Clarke who spoiled me since teenage with his exceptionally intelligent Sci-Fi stories =)) The British Council Library is to be blamed.

    I ‘could’ actually copy you, start selling and get rich – lol just kidding. Sadly, copying you directly would be no fun at all and I paint just for the fun of it, the creative process. But I’ve been staring at your works and admiring them for so many hours now they’re bound to influnce me one way or other!

    What I would really like to know is, how did you discover this particular style? I’m getting more and more concious each day that I seem to be the only one around with no ‘style’ of my own =(

    I’ve been doing figurative, abstract, mixed-media… then got the impressionist bug which was hard to cure, probably still suffer from it. Also tried my hand at knife-painting. Point is, I can paint in a number of styles but what I don’t have is a style of my own. Or perhaps its just a matter of time…

    I have been thinking now and then of starting another blog to showcase my art, hope to get around to it sometime soon and would surely send you a link.

    Thank You once again for being such an inspiration to me!


    • Hi again Tahir

      In answer to your question about style: style is something that comes about from the continued practice of art. What you end up creating depends on infinite factors- to name a few; the people you’ve known, the conversations you’ve had, the places you’ve been, the books you’ve read, the artworks to which you’ve been exposed, the training you’ve had, the films you’ve seen, your emotional states, the materials you choose or which are available, the oppurtunities for daydreaming, the time you have available …. etc; etc. And because all of these aspects are in a continual state of flux, a style is going to be constantly evolving. Otherwise it would get boring (a bit like how you mention copying I suppose, which can be helpful from a technical point of view, but misses the sense of personal developement & so is ultimately unsatisfying). The way you end up seeing depends on the way you think, which depends on my previous list!

      Sometimes I think people get too bound up with this question of style -I’m sure if you keep working you’ll find something positve will come out of it – just forget about style & see what happens.

      Well, that was probably quite useful for me for sorting out some of my thoughts – so thank-you for your question! Hope it’s also useful to you!

  26. Your paintings are beautiful. I love the colours and your compositions are so dramatic! The way you paint light is inspiring. Like you, I decided to apply myself more seriously to my art several years ago — I studied graphic design, fell in love with illustration and now most of my time is spent painting.

    I’m intrigued by a comment (above) about how your abstract paintings can look like photos. I’ve had similar comments about a few of my paintings even though I’ve deliberately painted something quite abstract or textured or with thick black outlines… and people see something photorealistic when it’s posted online — I appreciate that it’s meant as a compliment but it becomes a challenge for me to make something even more abstract the next time ; ) Perception is a weird and wonderful thing.

  27. Thank-you for your comment. I took a look at your blog & I have to say I can’t imagine how anyone would perceive your work as photorealist! Perhaps they ‘re just confusing “figurative” with “photorealist”? Was it when they were really reduced? I think that was the reason for the person’s comment you are referring to. Evidently his idea of what makes good art is that it should look like a photo!

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