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