AN ARTIST from Warwick is painting faces, baby bumps and shoes to help herself and others.
Sophie Twiddly moved to Warwick four years ago after the breakdown of an abusive relationship which she feared she would never be able to escape and believes art has been her therapy in helping her work through her anxieties.
The 31-year-old found solace in painting after her third child was born and suffering with colic – babies who appear to be perfectly healthy but cry excessively – and she needed a way to unwind while her daughter slept.
Her new partner’s sister suggested she try her hand at face painting with three children around the house brimming with creative requests – the more she practiced the better she became and soon her taste began to ere towards a sci-fi creatures and zombies.
And her work has won many fans, including make-up artists who have worked on the Harry Potter movies, Star Wars and the Walking Dead.
Sophie donates the money she makes face painting at school fetes and birthday parties to causes close to her heart including Cancer Research and Warwick Hospital’s Neonatal Unit.
And she has also turned her artistic talents to painting shoes for Super Shoes – a charity who provide customised canvas trainers to children with cancer.
Volunteers receive the shoes and a brief about the child’s favourite things which they use to create one-of-a-kind trainers.
More recently the former Body Paint UK member has been painting baby bumps for women in their final trimester – a trend increasingly popular in America.
Mothers seek her help to encourage their other children to be involved with the baby before it arrives by painting characters they like, and the baby will often kick or wriggle in response to the paintbrush strokes.
Sophie is self-taught but has been approached by other artists who have seen her work online asking her to teach them.
For now she is happy painting for charity and for fun.
She told The Observer: “I spent so long feeling scared but the ability to focus on painting helps me escape from the anxiety of having to face those demons again.
“I am very privileged to meet the people I do, but I find painting children’s faces very refreshing because they will be completely honest about the final result.
“They won’t hesitate to say they don’t like it. Generally they are very positive after I finish though because I try not to do your run-of-the-mill designs.”
“I feel like my purpose is to help as many people as I can because I know how it feels to need help but be too afraid to ask.”
For more information on Super Shoes visit www.supershoes.org.uk and www.facebook.com/fantasyfaceswarwickshire to see more of Sophie’s work.