PROVO — Growing up in an artistic family, Natalie Soper has had a sketchbook since she was 5 years old.
Although her dad was a corporate lawyer, he always drew cartoons to entertain his kids when they got bored in church. Her extended family contains landscape painters, comic illustrators and metalworkers.
“I thought everyone in the world made art,” Soper said.
Soper spent all her spare time doodling, but didn’t take her talent seriously until her family moved to a new town. Her siblings moved out of the house and she didn’t know anyone at school — all she had was her craft.
“One day my parents helped me clear out a basement bedroom, and I started spending most of my afternoons making art,” Soper said.
Although she has many interests, including skiing, writing and music, Soper said art always seems to rise to the surface. Working from her Provo studio, it all comes naturally.
“I think in the end I chose art because I can’t seem to stop making it, so at some point it just seemed to make the most sense to keep going,” Soper said.
Her work, with which she makes a decent income, is conceptual. Soper said she is inspired by things that have “aesthetic joy,” or things that make her laugh. She loves looking at desserts, vintage packaging and ads, dress designs, cinematography and the landscape of a mountain at night.
“I used to clear my head and get inspired by going night skiing,” Soper said.
Soper finds inspiration in the lives of other people. She cites Van Gogh as a particular hero because of his courage as an artist.
“There is a belief that we have a right to our labors, but not the fruits of our labors,” Soper said. “It brings me a lot of peace and motivation to know that I am responsible for giving my work my all — but once I have done my best, whether it ultimately fails or succeeds or is read in the ‘right’ way becomes a separate issue.”
In her chosen medium — oil paint — she is able to be bold and define her vision. Soper also mentioned a love of ink, in pens and markers. She has gone beyond canvas, painting longboards and cutting boards. She was inspired last summer after time spent at an illustration internship in New York to create a studio in her home.
I think in the end I chose art because I can't seem to stop making it, so at some point it just seemed to make the most sense to keep going.
“I cannot emphasize how important it is for me to have that space to create,” Soper said.
Soper said she also keeps some 3D projects she has created in her studio to remind her she is capable of things that are outside of her comfort zone.
One of Soper’s most recent paintings, “Putting on the Eye Patch,” was accepted into the 2015 Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art. She is particularly proud of the piece, since it combines her love of painting with her love of John Steinbeck — and she survived frigid studio conditions to make it happen.
“I hope to put in hours of really sincere and honest work to what I do,” Soper said. “Every artist is responsible for the messages they put into the world. But once someone else is interpreting my work, it is up to them what they want to see.”
Amanda is a writer and pop culture fanatic who studied journalism at BYU. She has written for a candy store, a US Senator, Deseret News, an art museum, Entertainment Weekly magazine, a beauty company, KSL and several artists and musicians. Find her on Twitter @amandataylor88.