About

Born in Hereford, educated in Cardiff, I am professional Swansea-based contemporary artist,  specializing in oil paintings. All my life I have loved being creative – whether it was drawing and sketching as a teenager, drawing with oil pastels and screen print-making in my 20s and finally focusing on photography and oil painting in adult life.

Things changed for me in 2012. I was involved in a car accident that was relatively minor event in itself but the consequences that rippled out from it threatened to overwhelm me. I developed PTSD and suffered burn-out from working as head of department in a very stressful job. The wheels came off the trolley. It was stunned to find myself falling apart in a very disconcerting way. I could not work. It took a long time to recover. It fact it took a year to return to my job, and that was in a part-time role. No longer head of department. It was tough and most people did not know what to say to me. I would say that it has taken me 5 years to feel relatively “normal” again.

A crucial part of that recovery process was painting. In the first 6 months of my illness I could do nothing. I tried to keep busy but I could hardly make it to the shops. I was overwhelmed with exhaustion. The world terrified me. My hobbies and interests all fell away from me. Seeing a couple of therapists who used EMDR therapy was a turning point for me. In August on 2012, I picked up my paint brush and started painting. Every day. All day. Day in day out. I haven’t stopped since. Painting calms and soothes me.

I have always been open about my mental health although not everyone is sympathetic or understands the long term consequences . To cut a long story short, I am currently a full-time professional artist. I paint most days.  My work focuses on light and colour. Whether I paint rural landscapes, urban streets, seacapes or figurative work. I like to paint people walking around in their everyday lives. Painting moods, anticipations and atmospheres. Creating presence and pathos. I notice things that others miss. I am fascinated by details and relationships.

I love light and colour. In my art I am drawn to light and shadows and how they shape our emotions. I remember visiting the South of France as a teenager and being mesmerized by the dazzling light, I have been attempting to capture that excitement about light in my paintings ever since. I aim to make people look at the ordinary and see the extraordinary beauty in it.

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Emma Cownie

 

Don’t just take my word for it…

“Emma’s paintings paintings are lively and capture the fleeting moments of day and night in the Swansea streets. A very strong visual impact is derived from bold blocks of colours and an expressive palette that is widely used in modern art and pop art. The cinematic compositions and dramatic use of light and dark in her artworks, particularly in those night scenes where I observe some tranquility and alienation in a busy city, almost draw a subtle connection to the pieces of Edward Hopper.

I particularly like the figurative works which I think capture the everyday nuances of normal people going about their daily life”

“Rise Art – Insiders Review”

 

“Looking at Emma’s painting you may get a sense of Paul Gauguin’s use of yellow and red, Robert Bevan’s blue 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. It’s all about the light for Emma, capturing the excitement of it playing on her subjects. A true case of what’s left out by the artist with a clever use of colour to take the viewer’s mind on a journey into the depths of the image.”

“Review – Gallery OMP, Hereford”

37 replies »

    • I am really touched that you took the time to write such lovely words. I think your memory jars are a fascinating concept. I was always interested in buried “time capsules” as a child (thanks to a childrens’ TV prgramme called Blue Peter) and messages in bottles. They have a wonderful fairy-tale quality to them. Emma

      • I am totally into the air and atmosphere that your works breathes, it´s such an engaged(engaging) fuse of clarity and sensory. And lucky to be able to follow its process! Thanks a lot for the reference – i did not know about “Blue Peter” – am definitely going to dig it on the internet over the weekend – it sounds precious!! 😀 Wishing you an amazing time and lovely weekend!!

  1. I really like your work…A LOT!! The colors and style is quite wonderful!! I am fascinated with the brightly colors trees and path scenes.

    • Why thank you, Judy. I love bright colours – the sun is always shining in my world (imaginary world, I live in Wales, it rains a lot)!

      • I really do like how you have captured the geometry of the shadows and tree limbs with color and light. It is both abstract and realistic at the same time. I like the scenic and the way your build the layers in some of the hills and towns scenes. I also think the sense of movement and body position with the people you paint and their environments are just wonderful. You do make the mundane magnificent.

      • Oh thank you for that. I have to wonder what you would paint of our Big Cypress Swamp and River of Grass and striking clouds!! Not to mention the wading birds. I always tell people if I could paint I would do that instead!! I love paintings.

      • What fantastic names:- “River of Grass” and “Big Cyprus Swamp”. I really liked your photos of wading birds.

  2. Hi Emma, and thank you for following me! I’m very pleased to have discovered you this way. I love your work, and will take inspiration from it. I had a somewhat similar experience to yours, though not as serious – I contacted Lyme disease six years ago, and it totally upset my life. Painting has been great therapy. Best wishes, Marina

  3. I enjoyed browsing through your portfolio, Emma. I don’t know a thing about painting but I admire people like yourself who are talented. Thanks for the follow – I’ll look forward to your posts.

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