Sofo doesn’t just mean “South Fork!” East Hampton based artist, author and illustrator Frank Sofo, who has exhibited extensively across the East End and is involved with many East End arts organizations, makes sure of that. This week’s cover artist’s Impressionist style of artwork is unmistakable. Clearly influenced and inspired by the likes of Van Gogh (see his rendition of “Bedroom is Arles” with Veronica the cat napping on the floor), Monet and Manet, Sofo emulates these masters’ bright and vibrant paintings, deftly capturing his image in that almost-blurry, detail-less Impressionist manner while using bold colors to kick the work into life. We recently talked to Sofo, not only about his fine art work, but also about the children’s books he has written and illustrated and about his advice for aspiring artists.
Could you begin by talking a little bit about your inspiration for this particular piece?
I love the summer season out here, most of my paintings reflect that. I don’t paint too many winter scenes, but I’m a big Rangers hockey fan, and played hockey. This painting is the town pond on a snowy day. I didn’t put myself in the picture, but was there that day skating.
Without giving away any secrets, is there a particular place on the East End you go to get inspiration for your work?
You have also illustrated (and written!) several children’s books. What do you enjoy most about children’s book illustration?
Before I turned to fine art painting I was an illustrator of children’s books, including several covers for Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and The Hardy Boys series. The last several years I decided to write and illustrate my own books. So far I have illustrated four children’s books, and am presently working on a new one.
How different is the process between, say, a landscape painting and an illustration for a children’s book?
They’re very different. My landscapes are more spontaneous and are often done en plein air style. The illustrations are much more difficult, requiring preparation, planning and time, but they are, nonetheless, rewarding.
If you could have created any one piece of art from history, what would it be?
Tough question, but since I love the Impressionists I could see myself painting along side Van Gogh or Monet. I love that period, even the way people dressed.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Well, yes. Learn from the great artists; don’t wait to be inspired; paint and draw daily. The inspiration comes from the process of doing it. Be passionate and never give up. Don’t let the judgment of others stop you, and never judge yourself.
Where can our readers go to see some of your work up close and purchase your children’s books?
They can check out my website, franksofo.com; I list any current shows there. They can contact me to purchase my books and I will also be selling books at current shows and events like the annual Children’s Fair at the East Hampton Library.