Captain Sophie Whitaker – An Artist Abroad

Captain Sophie Whitaker, 39 Regt RA. Image by Cpl Si Longworth RLC

Captain Sophie Whitaker, 39 Regt RA. Image by Cpl Si Longworth RLC

Captain Sophie Whitaker is a serving war artist whose main job is to provide Joint Fires Targeting support to Task Force Helmand on OP HERRICK 18. As a member of 74 Battery (The Battleaxe Company) 39 Regiment Royal Artillery – attached to 1 Royal Horse Artillery, Sophie works in the Brigade Headquarters, Lashkar Gah, where she finds time between an often hectic schedule to put pencil to paper.

I am passionate about art and after learning that a ‘serving war artist’ is something of a rare breed I am determined to use this blog to encourage others out here (they know who they are), and back at home, to come out of the shadows and share their talents.

26 September 2012
Back into the swing of things
This blog’s painting is referenced from a photograph of two Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) women on the ranges conducting pistol training. I wanted to create a bold and bright painting by laying a brilliant orange background in contrast with the blue of the AUP uniform and the dark blue/ coal shades of their head scarves.

9 September 2013
Home Sweet Home
As those words fell from his mouth, it was quite an unbelievable experience as I witnessed history in the making. Although words can barely describe that feeling, it was as if I were watching an old war film where the news of war was being broken over the radio.

15 August 2013
People make places
Thankfully, it was very well received and the individuals in question shared the humour. The RSM was particularly happy as he appeared around ten years younger, whilst the BSM now has an idea of what he will look like in ten years time!

30 July 2013
Life in the JOC
Having spent some hours observing each of… the military working dogs at work, I was keen to paint something that would show their eagerness to work and their enthusiasm for the job – if ever a dog can display this!

24 July 2013
Price is nice
I was placed in the ‘VIP suite’ which was nowhere near as glamorous …as it sounds! It was a section of a tent opposite the cookhouse, which consisted of a few scattered cot beds and strewn water bottles along with the remnants of hanging shelves, a paracord washing line and makeshift clothing rails.

15 July 2013
Donkey Derby
Three or four regular donkey and children combinations frequent the street in front of the sangar, as they wait to pick up what I can only imagine are sacks of grain from the shop around the corner to my furthest right of arc. They then trot past the sangar to do the rounds before coming back to collect the next load. I often see them during my early morning duties, before the temperatures reach their midday peaks. We are regularly experiencing temperatures well into the high 40s now.

3 July 2013
A visit from Graeme
A few hidden artists had started to emerge from the woodwork and it was an absolute pleasure to be able to talk with Graeme and other fellow soldiers on their preferred mediums, the techniques they enjoy, problems they have, and experience the passion they exude for their works.  Truly inspiring, and a wonderfully interesting bunch of soldiers.  A coffee morning next weekend is already lined up with pencils and paper to hand!

27 June 2013
Morale in a box!
“Every line is drawn with purpose and I don’t really like shading large areas of background as I find the lead will undoubtedly smudge at some point. I also use a scrap piece of paper underneath my hand when I draw to reduce the amount of smudging. As it’s getting late I shall finish there for the evening and start again sometime tomorrow…”

20 June 2013
Drawing on down time
In each piece I hope to capture the mood, shapes and textures of the entire composition rather than the detail of faces, fur and fabric. A classic example of my usual style pencil drawing can be seen here; my old boy ‘Abrigo’, an ex-racehorse and an absolute gentleman

11 June 2013
Drawing for the coffee table art book
To my surprise I hadn’t realised quite how close we were to the local population – my eyes lit up as I watched motorcyclists whizz by with one, sometimes two passengers …even three …but then five!  Children of all ages appeared from multiple doorways across the street wearing brightly coloured clothing, attracted by the sounds of the ice lolly seller as he played the distinctive tune of Happy Birthday.

31 May 2013
Drawing life on the front line
Having been brought up in a multi-cultural environment, I have a natural curiosity for people and their environment and love being able to observe, learn, understand and interact with other cultures. In some ways the heat and the dust of Afghanistan – with the distinct smell of cheap recycled toilet paper and potable water was somewhat comforting and reminiscent of my childhood!

Captain Sophie Whitaker, 39 Regt RA. Image by Cpl Si Longworth RLC

Captain Sophie Whitaker, 39 Regt RA. Image by Cpl Si Longworth RLC

25 thoughts on “Captain Sophie Whitaker – An Artist Abroad

  1. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Drawing life on the front line | The Official British Army Blog

  2. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Drawing for the coffee table art book | The Official British Army Blog

  3. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Drawing on down time | The Official British Army Blog

    • Carolina, thank you very much, I’m glad you like them 🙂 Sometimes I have no idea how I do them either, but I absolutely love it and when I see something that inspires me I can’t wait to get it down on paper! Take care, Sophie

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      • Hi Sophie
        I’m not sure how to contact you, but I came across your page whilst randomly googling our old racehorse – Abrigo! My grandparents bred and owned him ( and his dam, great dam and great great dam!) and we had him for a while ( hacking and one day eventing) when I was growing up before he went back into training. I would love to hear how he is, as would my mum. Do email me at dianamassey (at) mac.com , so thrilled to see he has gone to a lovely home.

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  4. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Morale in a box! | The Official British Army Blog

  5. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: A visit from Graeme | The Official British Army Blog

  6. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Donkey Derby | The Official British Army Blog

  7. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Price is nice | The Official British Army Blog

  8. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Life in the JOC | The Official British Army Blog

    • Hi Maura, I’m glad you like them 🙂 I haven’t advertised any of these for sale but if people are interested then perhaps I can look at making a few prints for them. You’ll have to let me know which ones you like most! Take care, Sophie

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    • It’s a pleasure to be able to respond, I shall let you know if I do venture into selling any of them. I’m busy with work from now until the end (not too long until i’m bak n the UK now) but when I get home I’m sure I’ll have plenty of progression work to post! All the best,

      Sophie

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  9. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: People make places | The Official British Army Blog

  10. Pingback: An Artist Abroad: Home Sweet Home | The Official British Army Blog

  11. hey Sophie, this is such a good blog, I was thoroughly interested in it from the first word till the last, I think your such an inspiration, keep up the good work, cor wait to read another blog from you, keep safe, – Lauren xx

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    • Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging words and I’m pleased you enjoyed the read. The next one is out already!

      Take care,

      Sophie

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  12. Pingback: An artist abroad: Back into the swing of things | The Official British Army Blog

  13. Hi Sophie, just stumbled across your work on the 1 Mech Brigade facebook page, your work is fantastic. Do you plan to exhibit in the Army Art exhibition in November? I’d love to buy a copy of some of your pieces. Hope the remainder of the tour passes quickly and uneventfully.

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    • Hi Kate,
      I am now back in the UK on my normalisation week at my unit and the remainder of the tour certainly seems to have passed quickly now I am back! I shall be exhibiting in the Army Art Exhibition in November and have just chosen the pieces that I shall submit, so look out for those!

      Regards,

      Sophie

      Like

  14. Hi Sophie
    I’m not sure how to contact you, but I came across your page whilst randomly googling our old racehorse – Abrigo! My grandparents bred and owned him ( and his dam, great dam and great great dam!) and we had him for a while ( hacking and one day eventing) when I was growing up before he went back into training. I would love to hear how he is, as would my mum. Do email me at dianamassey (at) mac.com , so thrilled to see he has gone to a lovely home.

    Like

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