Striped stoneware pitchers; fruits and flowers; clear blue skies and azure seas: Painter Emma Williams combines charming imagery with a lively, pattern-rich style to create artworks that instantly brighten up a room. Born in Ireland and now residing in London, Emma makes frequent trips to the Cornish coast of England, where the quaint seaside towns provide ample inspiration for her work. You can shop prints of Emma’s original paintings (every piece comes beautifully framed and ready to hang) here; for more from the artist herself, read on.
One Kings Lane: How would you describe your style?
Emma Williams: Bold and contemporary still life. If Matisse had been an interior designer in New England, the finished result might look like one of my paintings.
OKL: What is your process for creating a piece?
EW: My paintings are made up of many layers of paint, quite random to begin with until I feel the painting has a direction that I am confident to pursue. It’s a fight that I don’t always win—many works have been painted over in frustration. The more I paint, though, the more victorious I am.
OKL: What is your studio like?
EW: My studio is pretty much organized chaos. I paint with the canvases flat and work on many pieces at once, so the floor becomes a colorful jigsaw of wet paintings that I have to tiptoe around (although I still find space for an impromptu dance if a song comes on the radio that has a Hammond organ in it). I work any time of day or night, often seven days a week if a deadline is pending.
OKL: Where do you turn for inspiration?
EW: It’s more a case of wherever I turn there is inspiration. Color combinations are everywhere, from a basket full of washing to a box of buttons. I am continuously revitalized by pattern and color. I also love to spend time gardening and tending to my flowers—they are always happy to motivate me.
OKL: What’s your go-to cure for artist’s block?
EW: Swimming is my meditation. It’s a great way to increase positivity and get clarity with problematic paintings. Also walking my fox terrier, Teddy. Any exercise that you can do whilst daydreaming, really.
OKL: What’s your favorite travel destination?
EW: It has to be Cornwall, with its rugged coast and its unique quality of light. Antibes in the South of France is a very close second, with its sparkling blue waters and scenic streets—although that could describe Cornwall too.
OKL: You began your career in textile design—how does that experience influence your work today?
EW: It has given me confidence to paint what I like and not worry that it may be seen as too decorative—just to enjoy color and pattern, whatever the end result. I’m not precious about work; as soon as I finish one I want to start another. I think working in textiles gave me my stamina as an artist.
OKL: What led you to pursue painting full-time?
EW: It was a natural progression once I accepted that I am probably unemployable. As a creative person, any boundaries or rules are too restrictive. Working for myself gives me great pleasure on many levels. I love to paint and feel very lucky to do it every day.
OKL: What do you love about Cornwall?
EW: It is a magical place, dramatic and beautiful in equal measure. Walking through St Ives always excites me and inspires me to paint. My head is always in Cornwall.
OKL: What do you hope that viewers take away from your work?
EW: My paintings make people happy, which I know because they tell me! It is incredibly satisfying, and also very inspiring and a great motivation to keep painting.
OKL: Are there any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?
EW: My solo show in August, “Flower Portraits of St Ives,” features a new collection of work that captures a very personal sense of St Ives, the place I know and love.