Letting the unconscious guide the brush / 23rd March 2016 Back


Painters may train at colleges and academies by learning about and copying the old masters – for indeed it used to be considered a man's world behind the canvas. Studying art formally a student will go through the disciplines of drawing, perspective, colour, tone, hue and the creative movements over time. A less structured approach may be taken by the self-taught who also study the masters in a responsive less formulaic way.There are still the sub-conscious influences of what’s gone before in the creativity flowing out of the brush.

Hereford-born, Wales-based artist Emma Cownie, starts her work by sketching out the terrain, piecing together different parts of the whole picture. It’s an intuitive process, working on different sections of the canvas, trusting to experience that the whole will pull together. Emma chooses to tackle what she sees as the most interesting and brightest part of the painting first rolling against the traditionalist who would work from dark to light (oil and acrylic work).

Working as fast as she can, Emma tries to solve the puzzle in front of her before the inspiring moment is gone. Freshness and spontaneity is retained by not staging and reviewing the work to re-work parts as many often do over longer periods of painting. It makes the art exciting and invigorating to create and for the viewer to see.

Painting became a bigger part of Emma’s life in 2012, after a car accident causing post traumatic stress disorder, when painting became a need and a therapy.

Not surprisingly an artist that creates intuitively in the moment, bright light expressive, linear defined paintings, gets influences from painters that have used vibrant and flat colour. Looking at Emma’s painting you may get a sense of Paul Gaugain’s use of yellow and red, Robert Bevan's bluey green trees with purple, Henri Matisse’s simplification and exaggeration of form and Andre Derain’s bold definition of shape within the landscape. Emma likes the Fauvist simplified forms, use of lines and bold combination of colours.

Emma challenges herself not to keep producing paintings in one style or influence, and is reactive to the scenes and feelings she is faced with when in front of a potential subject. She has created at the other end of the light spectrum too, capturing night-time urban, city scenes. There are so many subjects for Emma to apply herself too, as she is located in Swansea with so many different types of landscape close by - woodland, mountain and coast.

Winter is Emma’s favourite time when the rich light catches the mossy barks of trees and illuminates the background behind the leafless trees with pinky purples. It’s a time that this artist find more colourful than other times of the year despite the natural desolation that the colder weather brings. The light is often more brilliant than the light of summer, somehow clearer. You can look through and beyond the leafless trees giving a greater depth of perception and a richer array of overlapping colours to be captured on the canvas.

We're delighted that Emma is showing her latest works with a Herefordshire influence at the opening exhibition Seeds of Change from 29th March to 24th April 2016. You can follow Emma's continued exploration of the world around her here.

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