For Lupus Month, she has carried out a very touching and full interview with me, and without any more by way of introduction, I will go straight into that.
Interview with `Sophquest
How long have you been doing art and who or what got you started?
I use to draw quite a bit when I was a teenager. I would draw pictures of strong futuristic warrior women, but never thought I would come to love creating art, the way I do now. In the Spring of 2006, after a difficult appointment with one of my 8 doctors at the time I came onto deviantART and found fractals.
Do you have any other family members who are artists of any sort?
I do. I have many musicians in my family, two of whom worked professionally. My father was in a band. My mom sang in a country band. And I sang in a rock band when I was younger. Then later in my early 30's, I decided to seriously train my voice and studied with a classical voice teacher. My maternal great-grandparents were also traveling minstrels in their day. And both my sons play instruments, as well. ~ Many people in my family have talent in the visual arts, also. My father and my son both have had pieces shown in art shows. My younger son and I are both published poets. My step-mom is an accomplished calligrapher and tole painter and my birth mother paints on canvas.
As October is Lupus Awareness month, perhaps we can talk about this.. How long have you suffered from Lupus and any other medical conditions, and what symptoms do you suffer from?
I was diagnosed just over 10 years ago, but it took a while for my doctor to put the puzzle together. She determined from my medical history, that I had my first flares as a teenager, but it didn't go into full bloom until after the births of my sons. ~ At that time I was having a lot of trouble with my lungs. At first, the doctor thought that it was simply adult onset asthma. But, the day I drove myself from work to the hospital and literally crawled from my car into the ER, the doctors started to take a closer look at what might be wrong. I had many bouts with my kidneys, at that time as well. But, the primary symptoms that were becoming truly debilitating for me on a daily basis, were fatigue and arthritis. Once I had the ANA test (anti-nuclear antibodies), I was sent to a Rheumatologist who told me she thought I had Lupus and I'd be lucky to stay out of a wheelchair in the coming year... I was devastated. I thought I would lose my mobility and right when I needed it most, to raise my two young sons. I was also told that I could lose my life within 5 years. Obviously, this changed everything for me.
Are there any aspects of your illnesses you'd like to share, and is there anything that you can pass on that might help others either to understand, or if they also suffer, to cope with their illness?
I have so much to say about Lupus. Like my friend, ~Solitairemiles, I have also had many battles, including seizures. The disease has done damage to my lungs, joints, nervous system (including my brain), blood vessels and skin. I've had many surgeries and was thrown headlong into a drastic menopause in my thirties upon having a full hysterectomy. Systemic Lupus Erythamatoses is a disease of multiple symptoms. It can attack one organ on Monday and move to another on Tuesday. It is imperative to see a Rheumatologist, so the full battery of tests can be done to determine how to proceed. There is no known cure and most patients are given a 'cocktail' of medications to control symptoms. ~ I wrote this article to bring some basic information about Lupus to the dA public. ~ According to all the statistics, I shouldn't be here to give you this interview today. But I am now in a full remission and have been for over a year. You can e-mail me at email@example.com and I will gladly share with anyone, how I did this. ~ Lastly, I would like to say that attitude is everything!</u> One has no choice but to be strong and resolved in their battle with Lupus. It will change your life drastically, but it doesn't have to take it from you if you are proactive, diligent and most importantly... willing to FIGHT!
How does your creativity help you through your suffering?
I can't possibly relay to you how vitally important it's been to have had art as a creative outlet. It helped me to be productive during the hard times when I felt as if I were in a body prison. During the worst of my seizures, my neurologist recommended that I learn a complicated form of mathematics to help me utilize and exercise my brain in a different way. Hence fractal art. The colors alone seem to have helped me. Viewing abstract art does something to our brains. We process it differently than we do art with a face. I always liked Algebra, but had never sought to learn any further forms of higher math. So, I began working with fractal equations (which looked like a foreign language and kept me completely confused, at first.) ~ But, then the numbers, letters and symbols began to make sense to me. It woke up a part of my brain that had been asleep. It has been amazingly therapeutic and although I know that I still have an incredible amount to learn about it it has been monumental in helping me to heal.
Do you have any formal training as an artist?
No, I don't. ~ What I will say... is that I've always been studious... a big nerd, I guess. I am what they used to call 'self-read'... the eternal student. I study voraciously and learn from everything I read. It's just what I do. I've also used many educational tutorials available here on dA and plan to take a more advanced course on Fractal Art, as soon as I have more time to do so.
Is art your means of earning a living, or do you have another type of job - if so what?
I have sold quite a number of prints here on dA, which never ceases to amaze me because, I still feel as though I'm such a novice! ~ So, that is a blessing, for which I am incredibly grateful. But, I most certainly don't earn a living from it.
~ I had a successful career as a partner/owner of a major full-time employment agency (a headhunter) for a number of years. But I had to give it up when I became seriously ill and my husband and I were relocated for the advancement of his career. ~ Now, I treat my role as Fractal Gallery Director as a full time job.
Do you feel that any particular artists have influenced your work, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am utterly moved to tears when looking at the works of the great Renaissance artists. It is my favorite historical period of art. The colors, complexity and subject matter have comforted and inspired me greatly during times of trial in my life. ~ Here on dA, I have so many inspirations that I couldn't name them all. I do feel a special affinity for the fractalists though, as people and as artists. But, I love dA because it brings me inspiration from every genre of art. I've become an avid collector and have many fave folder collections here.
Do you have a preference for the type of pictures you like to create?
The thing I love most about creating fractal art, is the ability to create seemingly infinite iterations (self-repeating patterns). I also love to create my own gradients (color combinations) for these patterns. This allows me to create my own place of solitude, hope and happiness a colorful infinity where all is possible. It's an open door to a haven, from which I can enter and ensconce myself completely. That appeals to me spiritually and esoterically It's a way to actively expend my positive energy and attitude into something real, visible tangible.
Could you give a brief overview of the techniques you use, including an outline of which software is used?
I used Tierazon for my fractals, in the beginning. It seemed to be in a language I could understand pretty easily. At first, it was all trial and error. But I began to be able to come up with a structure for a piece and work from there. I spend most of my time working on the gradient again, color playing a prevalent part of my artwork. I still enjoy some of the most basic fractal shapes, because to create something beautiful from them seems to be somehow purer for me. It also keeps me honest. Until I have mastered them, I don't seem to want to move on. It took a while for me to understand about rendering. Once I figured out what worked best for me, my artwork improved greatly. I have used Apophysis and love its artwork, but it is NOT my forte. The masters of that program blow my mind! ~ Lately, I have delved into the world of Ultra Fractal and I am absolutely in love with the program. The capabilities are endless, but the artist has to be truly creative and do the work. I am looking forward to when I can dive in and learn from it, exponentially. Right now, I am committed to representing the Fractal Gallery, as the GD. So, like everything else I've ever taken on I do it with all my time and effort. I've always been a community-involved person. It's an important part of my existence. It keeps me from being too self-involved and more importantly, keeps me humble. That's always good for the soul!
Could you pick out 3 of your most favourite images from your gallery and explain why you particularly like them?
It's really hard for me to choose 3 pieces for you. When I view my own artwork, I can't help but see all of the flaws and limitations therein. I see my own gallery, as a journey through practice. But, if you insist here are a few thoughts on 3 of my own pieces.
Fractals are Brain Food is one of my choices, simply because it's almost as I intended it to be: the colors, shapes etc. ~ It also incorporates my sense of humor into my art. Without laughter, I don't think I would be successful in handling the challenges in my life. So, for a laugh "This is your brain on fractal art!"
I made Ritual Dance of the Maya very early on, when I started fractaling. And although it isn't one of my most popular pieces. It was one that helped me find my 'voice' through art. I did feel a real sense of satisfaction upon finishing it. It was a visceral piece... it came from deep inside me.
Autumn Arrives is one of my recent submissions. I can say that I like it very much. It was such a fun piece to create. I'm working to learn 'masking' in UF and feel that I came pretty close to the result that I wanted with this one. The colors represent the season and I used the shapes and space to convey the feeling and movement that I wanted.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
My advice for artists is the same as my advice for anyone, about anything. Be honest! Live and create with as much honesty as possible and what you have inside of you that is beautiful or painful or interesting, will show through in your artwork. It will be a cathartic journey for you... And of course, never EVER stop learning.
Do you have any future plans for diversifying your artwork?
Absolutely. I began trying my hand at photomanipulation and digital painting, but didn't have a solid understanding of the tools I was using at the time, so I have much improving to do. Plus, I had limited use of my hands for painting, so I mean to continue learning and practicing. Now, that my body is healthier and more under my control, I intend to spend more time on digital painting. ~ I am very much drawn to portraits. The human face conveys so much. So, I am very excited to pursue that endeavor. It couldn't be further from fractal art, but it's a side of me that I want to express.
Is there anything else you'd like to add about what you do or experience?
Art has been a very personal journey for me. It isn't something I ever thought that I would pursue. It came as a serendipity in my life, when I needed it most.
~ Music has been a life long endeavor for me. I've been a singer since I was a child and have always relied on it for inspiration, comfort and joy. Sarah Brightman was a singular voice that I heard at the worst time in my life. It seems almost ridiculous to say that I'm a fan of hers. ~ It is so much deeper and more meaningful than that. Her angelic voice was a very real source of comfort and pain relief for me. There were so many days in the last decade or so, that I had to resort to what I learned in my pregnancy Lamaze class. I would sit and do the deep breathing exercises, while counting out the seconds and minutes until my pain would recede. Listening to Sarah Brightman was a soothing way for me to cope during these agonizing moments. Then I began watching her perform on video, focusing on her vocal technique and performance, as well.
In the fight for my life, I realized that I could learn to control the actions of my body through deep breathing techniques and this incredible music. ~ So, in gratitude to her. I began a website. It is mostly a gallery of photos. Because, she isn't only a brilliant singer, she is a musical genius who has a talent for doing a kind of performance art. I called the website: BellaDiva-SarahBrightman.com www.belladiva-sarahbrightman.com and have enjoyed sharing my appreciation of her music and artistry.
In closing, I want to thank you very much, Anna... for this interview. The questions were excellent, though difficult to answer. But, I'm so thankful that you are bringing these Lupus biographies to deviantART. I hope they will help people in some way.
And to the entire fractal family and everyone else who watches me on deviantART. I'm exceedingly grateful for your support and encouragement, these past 2 1/2 years. ~ It has been a pleasure, honor and privilege... not only to share art with you (yours and mine), but to be able to represent the Fractal Gallery in Artist Relations here on dA. It has richly blessed my life by giving me the quiet solitude and creative focus that I needed to heal.
Sophie's Gallery is extensive, so I hope to have given a fair cross-section of some of her works that have inspired me in particular. Please go and visit her gallery yourself if you're not already acquainted with her work - you shouldn't be disappointed!
MBF: :thumb40567148: :thumb39464043:
Digital Painting: :thumb47294811:
Mixed Media: :thumb69302107:
Photopainting - and my all-time favourite:
I have carried out a series of interviews and biographies here, all of which are available as links from my journals - please click on to see the full list.
Here is a stamp which I would be very pleased for anyone who has been interviewed by me to use in their journal or shoutboard...
Thank you </b>