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
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!