“A Clear Bright Glimpse of a Vanishing Ireland”

Niall MacGonagle, Arts Writer, Irish Independent on Sunday (2023)  

Irish Independent Newspaper Logo

Emma Cownie
Emma Cownie


Derry City and Donegal-based artist.  My work is featured in John Lewis.

Born in Hereford, I have lived in many places; Whitley Bay, Gloucester,  Cardiff, Swansea and London. I have been a full-time professional contemporary landscape artist since 2017. In 2021 we moved to Derry City and we spend a good part of the summer at Burtonport, Donegal, Ireland.

All my life I have loved being creative – whether it was drawing and sketching as a teenager, embroidery, sewing, drawing with oil pastels and screen print-making in my 20s and finally focusing on photography and oil painting in adult life.

I originally trained as a professional Medieval Historian and then worked in Secondary Education for almost two decades until my life took an unexpected turn. On 29th February 2012 I was involved in a car accident which led to me developing  PTSD and having a breakdown. My emotional recovery was long and exhausting and is still ongoing. Art was an essential part of that process and still is. I have been a professional artist since 2013, part-time until the summer 2017 when I became a full-time professional artist.

I paint most days.  My work focuses on light and colour, whether I paint rural landscapes, urban streets, seascapes or figurative work. I am primarily a landscape painter. I like to simplify images and use a “clean palette” to recreate vivid but natural colours. I am fascinated by light and colour but also details.

Foster book Cover
My painting on the cover of “Foster” 2022


At The Glynn Vivian Exhibition, Swansea, 2017


In my work, 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.

Much of my work is inspired by American and Canadian artists, mainly American realist painters who paint the quiet, the spacious and the still and revere a certain treatment of light and colour.  I have found myself drawn to and influenced by painters who have a special relationship with colour and light; such as American realists Edward Hopper, Fairfield Porter and Rockwell Kent, the Canadian Group of Seven, and British painter David Hockney.  I am also influenced by Contemporary Minimalists such as Mitchell Johnson and Jessica Brilli. I am also drawn to the skies and landscapes of Irish artists such as Paul Henry, and James Hubert Craig.

My work is in hundreds of private collections around the world; UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Malta, Canada, USA, Peru, Singapore, Japan, South Africa and Australia

“Seeds of Change” Exhibition, Hereford, 2016

Don’t just take my word for it…

“I cannot think of another artist who captures the special landscape of Donegal and its unique atmospheric and climate better than Emma Cownie”

Larry Powell – art consultant, collector and champion of the renowned artist John Kingerlee (2021).

“Emma’s 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.”

Singulart – http://www.singulart.com

Emma Cownie is a talented British artist whose works have featured in exhibitions and publications across the UK. Always seeking to achieve a strong visual impact, she composes works marked by bold blocks of colour and an expressive palette that is widely used in modern art and pop art. Influenced by great American realists like Edward Hopper, Cownie paints the quiet, the spacious and the still.

Review – Gallery OMP, Hereford

In my studio

Emma Cownie in Donegal
Outside the cottage in Burtonport

59 thoughts on “About

    1. “I notice things that others miss”
      Yes you do.
      So have I.
      All my life.
      It is a solitary club to be in.
      Those who see,
      what others miss.
      Your talent is so beautiful,
      It shines.

      1. What beautiful words. Cindy. Thank you.

  1. Great blog and beautiful artwork, Michelle – Art2Arts

    1. thank you Michelle, very kind of you. Emma

  2. Love your work, I have a similar interest in light and subject matter from what I can see when I go through your work. Fab collections 🙂

    1. thank you Cam for your kind words 🙂

  3. An inspiring body of work Emma. I am pleased to meet you. 🙂

    1. thank you so much Nomzi

  4. beautiful work and glimpses of life, emma. ) beth

    1. Thank you for your kind words, beth

  5. Dear Emma, thank you so much for your visit on my website and for the follow. I love your work and am happy to have come across it <3 🙂 Many greets!

    1. 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

      1. 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!!

  6. Nice to meet you. Wonderful artistic pieces you have posted here.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Emma

  7. 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.

    1. 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)!

      1. 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.

      2. Thank you. You write so well. I particularly love your final comment!!

    2. Your photos are quite stunning. Florida looks like a beautiful part of the world.

      1. 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.

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

  8. Thank you for following The Comfortable Coop. Your art is stunning. In some ways it reminds me of my Uncle Jack Steele.

    1. Thank you so much – is that Jack Keijo Steele (b.1919)? I tried looking him up but there was more than one artist called Jack Steele.

      1. Thanks for clearing that up.

  9. Dear Emma, Is it possible to get a print of your painting of the Sugar Loaf mountain near Abergavenny?

    1. yes of course Maximilian I will email you details, Emma

  10. Thank you for following Storyteller.

  11. These are really interesting paintings! Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your thoughts.

    1. Thank you for your kind words.

  12. 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

    1. Thanks Marina – painting/creativity is a great source of therapy and joy to many. I can’t live without it!

  13. Your work is outstanding. I am very pleased to meet you, Emma.

    1. Thank you so much! Pleased to meet you too!

  14. 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.

    1. Thank you so much. All words of encouragement are much appreciated. Every single one of them!

      1. You’re most welcome!

  15. both you & your art are lovely 🙂

    1. Why, thank you!!

  16. Emma, have you been listening to the Radio 4 series all this week How To Have A Better Brain? If not, then do! All 5 episodes are on the iPlayer. Invaluable.

  17. Not all of them – listened to the first one on exercise just now. Very interesting. Good excuse to walk the dogs, eh? Thank for the tip.

    1. Today’s one on diet and the brain was very educational.

      1. I’ll listen to that tomorrow, then.

  18. Hello Emma, I’ve just happened upon your work, on-line, and want to say how much I enjoy it. I grew up in the Uplands & went to school in Brynmill. Every one of your paintings resonates with me, I love the colours, the minimalism and the message. So sorry to have missed your Cardiff exhibition (thanks for the catalogue download), but I was inspired to walk the streets (& backlanes) of Brynmill yesterday in the rain. It was so interesting to compare my memories with your interpretations and current reality. I would love to see more of your work – do you have any opportunities coming up?

    1. Hello Brian – lovely to hear from you. I don’t as yet have anywhere fixed up to show them in Swansea (they keep closing the galleries). If you email me maybe you can arrange a time one afternoon to see the paintings in my front room (slightly more cramped than in Cardiff). My email is emmafcownie@gmail.com

  19. It is brave of you to share your story here and reading it has helped me make sense of a family member’s situation. I love that art and painting has helped you swim downstream instead of struggling upstream. I absolutely love the shapes and green hues you used in the photo here! So eye-catching! I am now a fan of your work!!

    1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. Creativity heals. It helps so many people going through difficult times. Its not always plain sailing but if you want to understand PTSD better I can recommend an excellent book called “The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk. Its on Amazon for a very reasonable price. It explains about the little known therapy called EMDR. I found understanding what was wrong with my brain helped me enormously because when I was first ill I was frightened and thought that I was going to be this way for ever. No one seems to be able to explain what was happening to me. My husband, who was in the third year of an Open University Psychology degree was invaluable in supporting me and helping me understand what was going on. I did get better, but only with EMDR. CBT would not have worked. I was told at one point by a kindly nurse that I’d would get better on my own. Sadly, she was wrong, she had confused PTSD with depression.

      1. It is amazing how much disinformation there is out there particularly in regard to mental health. Sadly it often comes from those who are working in the area and who you would think knew better. Thank you for the book suggestion. I might get that for my family. How long did the EMDR treatment last for before you saw results, may I ask?

      2. I saw 2 counsellors – the second was better than the first. I felt a significant difference after a few sessions. It is very tiring, so be warned. Its different for everyone.

      3. This family member sleeps a lot already so maybe that won’t work for him.

      4. PTSD is exhausting too. Get the book and read up about it and decide for yourself. It doesn’t get better on its own.

  20. Reading your “about” see you are not so far away from me in sunny Wales!

    1. I did wonder where you were, I was born in Hereford, just the other side of the border. My mother is Welsh, from Cardiff and my father English although he grew up in Cardiff. They live in the Cotswolds now.

      1. My story is the reverse! Born and brought up on farm in the Cotswolds. Been living just inside Wales now, looking up to the Black Mountains, since early seventies.

      2. What a lovely place to end up – I love the Brecon Beacons.

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