Artist of the Week: Patrick Soper, Of Cloudless Climes and Starry Skies

When Anne Beatrix Wilmont left for the evening in her black, spangled mourning gown, she could not have foreseen the centuries of significance that would follow in her sparkling wake.  

As she walked through the grand hall of Lady Sarah Caroline Sitwell’s London estate, each dutiful spangle returned the light of the room in constellations that rose and fell in the undulations of her steps. The bright specks appeared on walls, and elegant partygoers, and, perhaps most significantly, in the eye of a certain George Gordon, more famously known as Lord Byron.

The date was June 11, 1814. And, when a dazzled Lord Byron returned home after the party he wrote the following verses about Anne Beatrix Wilmont and the black gown:

She walks in beauty like the night,
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,

And all that’s best of dark and bright,
Are in her aspect and her eyes. 

This verse has influenced poets, novelists, painters, composers, and other artists, including Patrick Soper, a UGallery artist. To Patrick, Lord Byron’s poem is the absolute embodiment of his artistic quest: to capture the beauty and mystery of the female form.

Patrick Soper, a painter from Lafayette, Louisiana, has taken on the tireless pursuit of conveying the subtleties and individualities of women in his series of nudes, “Eve-O-Lution.”

“To try to capture the elusive inner beauty, the mystery, the magic, that is singular in each individual female form, is the ultimate challenge,” says Patrick.

Each of his figures the protagonist of her own canvas. These complexities are underscored by the formal aspects of the compositions. In line, he juxtaposes the angular and geometric lines with the soft and natural curves of the female body. In color, he is explorative, contrasting the warm, flesh tones with bold and metallic ones.   

Wrapped in Gold  (36” x 18”) by Patrick Soper, oil painting

Wrapped in Gold (36” x 18”) by Patrick Soper, oil painting

These intricacies give the depth, intrigue, and mystery of the complicated characters in his portfolio.

“After years of painting I have come to believe as have many artists before me, that the human face and form is the pinnacle of artistic achievement,” says Patrick. “Much as I would imagine musicians gravitate toward more and more difficult compositions, I find myself drawn to painting people.”

“Many times, the models themselves bring ideas to the shoot,” says Patrick. “It’s truly a collaboration.”

To approach the challenge of portraiture, Patrick begins with a photoshoot. In his studio, he keeps a closet filled with sheer cloth, drapes, kimonos, saris, costumes, wigs, and jewelry, among other accessories with which the models pose.

After the photoshoots, he sifts through the photos to find the images that jump out at him to be painted. From there, he brings his canvas to his old drawing table, turns on instrumental music and continues to express the beauty of the female energy -- of the cloudless climbs and starry skies… that are in her aspect and in her eyes.