Artist threads connection between landscapes and cityscapes
By Sue Tiffin
Published Sept. 26, 2017
When Sophie Creelman looks out her studio window, she sees trees as far as the eye can see. But her canvas tells a different story.
The Haliburton-based contemporary acrylic artist specializes in cityscapes with high-detail architectural forms that make the admirer question whether they’re looking at a photograph or a painting. The answer, in a way, is both. For her Views series, Creelman takes a snapshot of a moment she is admiring in her travels, then spends dozens of hours – sometimes up to 100 – recreating the image with paint.
“As I work my way across the canvas I learn so much about the specific area getting to know each building and imagining the people who frequent it,” she says on her website of her work. “By the time I’m finished I’m not only personally connected to the canvas but the city itself.”
Creelman’s cities of choice include Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Chicago and Paris, but she is able to create works for people with a particular interest in or fondness for a different city, as well.
“I’m capturing a city in the moment,” she says, noting that the scene will never be the same again – a car will move, people will have walked on – but that it will speak to someone’s recall of the place. “Everyone connects to a city or relates to a city.”
Despite the time she invests in recreating a scene from a snapshot, which she said is calming to her, Creelman still enjoys selling the paintings to others.
“I don’t get too attached to them,” she said. “I always take a photo. And if someone else wants it in their home, I’m honoured.”
Creelman was a Haliburton Highlands Secondary School student, attending classes at Brock University before she returned home to focus on her health. Being home gave her a fresh perspective and revitalized her creativity.
“People think dropping out is a negative,” she said, “but I learned a lot and learned in knowing I can do it on my own.”
Creelman’s combination of art education and her own self-teaching has resulted in a technique she calls threadpainting. She was working on a piece for her landscape series that she felt she was having trouble with, but late at night thought of something she could add to it that would make it work – thread.
“To elevate and complete a piece I then incorporate thread within the canvas and build up hundreds of lines of thread,” she says on her website. “This thread allows a new dimension and element to an artwork and a pleasant detail the viewer notices when viewed up close.”
Creelman is passionate and active about getting her work out into the world, and uses online searches and social media to her advantage to connect with galleries. Besides showing her work locally at the Rails End Gallery and Baked and Battered, Creelman’s art has also been showcased at galleries in Toronto and Ottawa, but up next for her is a spot on the Haliburton County Studio Tour, which she used to attend out of interest and is excited to be a part of this year.
“I thought it would be a fun accomplishment, and for encouragement that my stuff is worthy and encouragement that what I’m doing is good,” she says.
Creelman is showing her work as a guest artist alongside Terry Craig and Jenn Wanless-Craig at Location V - Artech Glass Blowing Studios at 18639 Hwy 118 in Tory Hill from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, and Oct. 7 to Oct. 8. Visit haliburtonstudiotour.on.ca for more information and learn more about Creelman’s work at sophiecreelman.com.