Emily Sodders

I work mostly in acrylic and oils, painting realistic, vibrantly-colored, lushly-detailed wildlife and landscapes scenes, usually with a touch of whimsy or humor. 

Q&A with Emily Sodders

How would you describe your background?

My parents were quick to notice and cultivate my creative talents. Thus, I had a couple of private art teachers at different times in my childhood, the first as early as age 5 or 6, and attended some youth artist workshops and competitions through my elementary school years. Also of great influence was my middle and high school art teacher, Susan Bohon. She recognized my need for formal instruction, but also left me plenty of space for self-discovery and exploration. I completed a summer scholarship program at Glassell School of Art in Houston, TX as a result for high ranking in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo School Art Competition while in High School. I continued my formal education by studying Illustration for a couple of years at New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH, before establishing my studio in the Monadnock Region.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

As alluded to in the prior question: very early in life. I took my first “commissions” as early as a 5th grade. I would charge a nickel or a dime for a drawing of my classmates’ favorite cartoon characters. By middle school, this blossomed into more serious leads. I recall the school itself was one of those early clients and with what I thought was pretty lucrative pay: I got to miss class for a couple days to sit in the principal’s office and draw caricatures of all the teachers for Teacher Appreciation week, as well as paint a Periodic Table mural in the science wing. These and other portfolio-building opportunities eventually lead to real-world clients in the areas of portraiture, mural, and even graphic design by the time I was in High School. Everything just snowballed with increasing momentum from there.

What would surprise people to learn about you?

I was adopted at birth! The question that usually follows is: have you met your biological family? Yes, I have, upon becoming a legal adult, though not all at once. But over the years, each introduction and each interaction has helped me better understand some mysterious facet about myself, whether it be a good or bad revelation. I am my own fascinating case study for the conversation surrounding nature vs. nurture. Perhaps not so surprisingly, I discovered there are many creative and entrepreneurial types among my biological relatives. I am very thankful, however, for the love, stability, guidance and the rich tapestry of childhood experiences afforded by my adoptive family, without whose careful nurture, I would not be who or where I am today as a professional artist, wife, and mother.

How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it?

My earlier body of artwork has almost no cohesion at all, given that nearly everything I created was by commission and therefore, as diverse in subject, media and style as the needs of my clients. But in recent years, left alone to my own devices in the creation of original paintings, I have developed a signature style. I work mostly in acrylic and oils, painting realistic, vibrantly-colored, lushly-detailed wildlife and landscapes scenes, usually with a touch of whimsy or humor. 

What achievements in the area of art are you proudest of?

It is really satisfying to know how far-reaching of an impact my art has had in the service of others… in ways I never could have imagined! It truly is a ministry and if I have anything to boast in, it is Christ working in me and through me to bring about a range of benefits to individuals, communities and causes.

How would you describe your art process?

During consultations for portrait or mural commissions, I often tell my clients that as their creative conduit, they ought to regard my creative process as more of a crock pot than a microwave: just put the ingredients in and let them slow-cook together for a little while for best results. Some of my most successful solutions hit me at random day or night. I’m constantly mulling imagery and concepts over, either in the foreground or background of life. It matters very little if I am actually in the studio or not. But once I see something in my mind’s eye, it doesn’t take much time to create a digital rendering for their consideration, edit and approval. Everyone is on the same page and has a very clear view of what the end product will look like before production begins. That peace of mind is priceless for both parties and makes the actual production process relatively stress-free.

As for my original works, like many artists, I am inspired by the beauty of God’s creation. Everything sings out His glory and I feel moved to roll my brush in it. It’s hard to explain, but it connects me to my Creator. My hope is that the viewer can sense it, too.

What is your usual studio/working day like?

Forgive my long-windedness, but that’s a hard one to pin down due to the multitude of hats I wear both in my personal life and professional life. I have to craft each day as it comes, balancing homemaking, homeschooling my daughter, and whatever is the next creative project on the waitlist for maximum efficiency and productivity. Some portions of the day are structured, while others are not; and that keeps things interesting for everyone.

But if I were to freeze-frame this very day as an example: this morning I am flitting between answering this questionnaire, completing some housekeeping objectives, and assisting my first grader as she practices writing in cursive, forming sentences using her spelling words. Later on, she’ll take a recess to play outside and then work on assembling a cardboard dollhouse kit in her room, while I bang out a mural design for the exterior of a barn for a client in Keene.

We’ll reconvene for lunch, then head to my studio to review some arithmetic concepts she learned yesterday, complete some related worksheets, then we’ll both likely settle at our respective easels. I’ll be working on a commission- a large oil painting of the Presidential Range- while I suspect she’ll continue experimenting with pastels by drawing her favorite unicorns and swirling designs, which she likes to mail with letters to her pen pals.

Later in the evening, she’ll join her daddy for some martial arts training at his school, and a playdate with some friends. I’ll have some alone time to do some laundry, respond to emails, and prepare dinner. After dinner, we’ll have some family time, which could take several forms, a combination of shows, boardgames or reading books. Our daughter is obsessed with the Titanic and so, we’ve been reading a chapter book on the topic together before bed. Once she’s down for the night, I may retire to the studio again or do a virtual workout on my Oculus headset, depending on my own energy levels, before turning in. 

Other days, I’m pulled away from my art studio and domestic life. I may be out painting a mural or face-painting at a private birthday party, commercial event or local festival. Sometimes, these outings present educational, social or other enrichment opportunities for my daughter, so she tags along. 
Bottom line: we are a family that works hard, plays hard and learns a lot along the way! There’s never a dull moment while I soak up the joys and face the challenges of motherhood, while maintaining a prolific creative career. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What is the most delightful part of your life outside of work?

Homesteading and spending quality time with my husband and daughter, as well as our church family and friends. Over the past few years, we’ve been in the process of converting our tiny 450sq/ft starter home into something of our dream home that can accommodate more gatherings (…and an expanded studio and art gallery, too, of course!). Many of the same folks have come out to help us at various steps along the way. It’s been an incredible bonding experience and we count ourselves very blessed.