I love her paintings and want to share them with the world. When I found out she had a self-directed art show coming up, I asked if I could do an interview with her. She enthusiastically agreed.
I began with questions of her family. After having seen her interact with her young boy, I realized how important family must be to her.
Do you ever combine your husband's photography with your artwork?
"We have never combined mediums per say, but often help each other through projects. However, anything technical that I have ever done is a result of my husband, Nick. He is one of those rare people who is very right and left brained. We build my painting surfaces together and he has even taught me to use power tools. I honestly don't know where I would be without his help and encouragement. I am a very lucky girl."
Your house must be a lot of fun. Can you tell me what it's like having such an artistic family?
"I think it is just nice to be in a home where we have discussions and understand each other. I'm very grateful that my husband can tolerate my art ramblings. We are always discussing ideas with each other and getting each others' opinions. He has had to spend quite a bit of his life looking at artwork and being in galleries and museums with me. We have always loved art, music, theater, books, finding/scavenging for lost objects and oddities. There are normally several projects between the two of us going at once.
"My little boy loves being tossed into the art scene as well. He is very happy going to shows and galleries or "art parties" as he calls them. He spends quite a bit of time with me while I'm painting. We have a children's art easel set up next to mine and he loves to paint and draw with me. It is so nice how happy and content he is spending time doing artwork. We love it. Creativity has just always been a part of our little family."
What inspires you?
"My recent work has been inspired a lot by how my life has changed in the last couple of years. Since having my little boy, I have become much more interested in the aspects of life that bring beauty into the world. Children seem to exist in those colorful worlds, so many times when I draw or paint I am trying to explore those moments or exist in them in some way. I reference memory a lot too as a means to revisit those emotions. The small painted doors I make signify a small passage way into some of those places.
"I am also greatly influenced by the things I surround myself with. The music, literature and films that I am exploring always seem to effect the content and mood of my work. The people I'm around and the places I visit all have an energy that infuses itself into what I'm working on. We are definitely explorers; many themes in my artworks involve places and exploration. I feel like every new experience and exposure to different environments inspires more of my ideas and creativity."
Emily studied abroad in Italy, and then traveled to Australia with her family. Her favorite place so far seems to be Australia where she "fell in love with the country and people." Locally, she enjoys her adventures outdoors in the mountains, snowboarding and visiting Bear Lake.
Are there any specific techniques you learned while in Italy?
"I learned more about art itself than actually learning artist techniques, which I feel can be even more valuable. I studied epic works of art from the Renaissance along with the Venice Biennale containing some of the most contemporary artists in the world. It taught me a lot about what it means to create art. Most importantly, I became very aware of how valuable it is to really experience art."
Why do you paint?
"It has always just been a very organic and visceral thing for me to create artwork. I don't remember why I started or really choosing to be an artist. It has always just been a part of who I am and what I do. It is a very positive way of being true to myself and to my identity. I really just feel grateful for having it be such a big part of my life and being able to do it. I'm not sure if I would know how to stop."
What is your method?
"I sketch a lot. I am not the kind of person that just sits down in front of a surface and starts painting from scratch. All my paintings I see in my head first, then I sketch various aspects of the idea until I feel like it is developed enough to put into a painting. I build my own surfaces and have tried to take my craftsmanship very seriously. The painting as an object has started to mean more to me than just the 2D surface. I paint the side panels and have begun drawing images on the back of the piece. It makes the painting feel more personal. There is something I know about the piece that the viewer doesn't."
Do you have to paint in a certain room? Do you have pictures that inspire you or music you listen to while painting, etc.?
"I have a studio in my home that is a dedicated art space. My corner is covered in references, paints, supplies and books. It is a lovely little mess that I can close off and use just for creating. I have spent hours and hours working in my "art factory." I listen to music, watch films and sometimes cartoons if I have my little boy with me. A mom's got to do what a mom's got to do.
"I have found that a lot of my inspiration and ideas come while I am running and listening to music. Images seem to create themselves when I am really into a song. It is a time when my mind is very receptive to creativity and when my ideas feel very organic."
Does it ever feel like work?
"No. I really just feel thankful to be doing it at all. When it comes down to it, I am doing what I love regardless of anything else. I can feel stressed when I have a deadline to meet, which can make it feel a little less organic. But I really like it too much to consider it work."
Emily just loves art in general. "I am like a kind in a candy store in an art museum. I'm a huge fan of art history and how it is so reflective of life and culture. I am drawn a bit more to modern." Though, she loves all styles and mediums.
Her favorite artists include: Andy Warhol, Nancy Spero, Jasper Johns, Frida Kahlo, Joseph Cornell, Toulouse-Lautrec and others.
Besides acrylic paint, what mediums do you use?
"I work mostly with acrylic paint but feel very free to mix whatever mediums I feel like the piece calls for. I use colored pencils to draw into or on top of my work. I will collage a lot of drawings, papers, fabrics into the paintings as well. I love patterns and found objects and like to experiment with palette knives, pencils, brushes or even my fingers to paint or draw. There are a lot of other mediums I am interested in experimenting with as well."
How long have you been painting?
"I have always drawn. I filled up sketchbook after sketchbook in junior high and high school, and was constantly drawing all over my notebooks in class. Before going to college, I knew that I would be perusing art in one form or another. It wasn't until I got further into the Weber State art program that I began seriously exploring painting. Once I started, it just seemed to fit and I never stopped."
How has your art developed through the years?
"My work is always evolving as I feel it should. To me being an artist is kind of like being a mad scientist. I am constantly exploring and experimenting. I see some constant themes and images that are reoccurring in my work but I think I am adding more depth as the years pass. I learn more each time I do a painting. So hopefully, by the time I'm ninety I may have it all figured out.
"Since graduating from WSU in 2008, I have really started combining figures and drawing into my paintings where there had always been a separation of sorts between the two elements. My ideas and themes have felt clearer to me since graduating. While in school, I depended greatly on critiques and opinions, but now my mind seems a little clearer without them. I am painting for myself more than I ever have before. Which in turn is probably why more work is feeling more special to me.
"In saying that, I don't think I would be where I am at all artistically without my education and all the students and teachers I worked with while in school. Weber State has an incredible art program. I am very grateful to have been able to be a part of it. My education is of immeasurable value to me and I would be very interested in taking it even further in the future."
Many shows you have been featured in are themed. Do you like theme-based or self-directed shows better? What are some of the differences/challenges?
"I really enjoy being able to do both. I love the challenge presented to me when I am a part of a "themed" show. It forces me to think outside of the box and put my own style or spin on subjects of pop culture that I may not normally paint, like classic monsters or basketball players. The most intriguing aspect of these shows is all of these talented artists are given the same subject and the different interpretations that come from the same theme are very exciting to me. I love seeing what other artists come up with.
"Self-directed work can be more freeing and more challenging at the same time. I put more pressure on myself to come up with something interesting. I am forced to dig deeper into what my work is about, but I have complete freedom to explore all my ideas. It is almost a relief to me to be able to let out all the images and painting that I have swimming around in my head."
How do you find the exhibitions?
"I have been working with a couple different Galleries: The Blonde Grizzly in Salt Lake City and the R&R Gallery in Los Angeles. They have contacted me when they are putting on show that they would like me to participate in. They are both such great galleries it is very exciting to be showing in them."
One of these shows was art inspired by Bill Murray. She met his brother at the show, but sadly, no Bill.
Have you sold a lot of art at these shows?
"It can be very hit and miss. In general the work has sold pretty well, I would guess about 80 percent of the time the work will sell during the show and sometimes after. Paintings I send to LA seem to sell better simply based on the California art market."
Are you attached to any of your paintings? Do any have a special meaning to you?
"I am getting more attached to my paintings all the time. They are becoming more special to me than they used to be. I put a lot of my heart into some of the pieces and it can be hard to say good bye to them. In many cases I just want to be able to spend time with them before they leave me. It sounds funny, but I begin to talk about them like they are people or my children or something."
Emily would love for you to attend the opening reception of her self-directed art show "Fragements of Elation."
The reception will be Friday, April 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m at The Blonde Grizzly Gallery, 15 E. 400 South, SLC. The show runs from April 15 to May 13.