At the heart of Emma Black’s paintings is a love of home and family life. In her vibrant oils of interiors and animals, Emma celebrates the joy of ‘warm, colourful rooms’ that she hopes ‘people would like to live in.’
Entirely self-taught with no formal training, Emma’s style is refreshingly natural. ‘I like the higgledy-piggledy look of imperfect life.’
Filled with fun and humour, Emma’s work celebrates the brighter side of life and the intimate feel of home, both real and imagined. There are chickens on the table, Shetland ponies in the kitchen and elephants on the bed. ‘I always draw my animals smiling.’
Rooted within these worlds of bright dreamlike colour, Emma explains ‘I paint pictures of my house and the old house I used to live in as I love home and it makes me happy. We live with lots of animals and I love painting them. My grandmother is from Zimbabwe, so I paint those animals too.’
Emma comes from an artistic family. ‘I am partly Armenian and I feel that the bright textiles and colours have a bit of a Russian and Armenian influence. I am also influenced by my grandfather’s aunts who were some of the first in Britain to collect Impressionist art which led to the ‘Davies Collection’ in Cardiff.’ As an aside - these two sisters who lived a quiet, traditional life in mid-Wales went on to create one of the great British collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the 20th century.
On a more personal level Emma explains, ‘People don’t often realise that they were artists themselves and I grew up with their art on the walls at home. They used thick oils and lots of pinks and turquoises and I think that that has influenced my art. I think colour makes people happy. I love Matisse.’
Studying her degree in economic and social history at Edinburgh University encouraged an interest in houses, their objects and textiles. Emma’s work celebrates these things filling her paintings with colourful fabrics and beautiful objects in amongst the everyday details of home.
Emma’s artistic life started with painting presents for friends of their homes and animals alongside bringing up her four children. The appeal of Emma’s work is now reaching wide and far, striking what is perhaps a universal chord in her ‘love of a cosy, lived in house’ painted in the ‘hope it makes people happy.’