” I was born in Texas in 1987. In 2016, I moved to London to study at the University of East London’s MA Fine Art course. My BA in Communication from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and MLS in Global Studies from Southern Methodist University inform my work with a sensitivity to message and a conceptual awareness of the human condition. I now live in Los Angeles where I work as a Commission Artist, Art Instructor, and Interior Designer.
My work is on display at Hugo Rivera Gallery in Laguna Beach and has been featured in exhibitions around the world, including the traveling show Stimulus at Greenhouse Berlin and the Municipal Art Gallery in Athens; The Many Faces of Barcelona at Jiwar Creation Society, Barcelona; 100% Abstract by Le Dame Gallery, London; and Grand Opening Show at The Donut Hole Gallery in Japan.
As an artist, I explore why people do what they do, visually representing the complexities of the human condition in mixed media and sculpture. My practice is characterized by mixed paint and drawing media and a celebration of diversity.
My continuous line series attempts to highlight the paradox of our shared humanity and our unrepeatable singularity. We all have basic needs; however, our experiences, choices, and personalities make us unique. The single line drawing represents a timeline of sorts. As each of our timelines continues forward, they reveal more about our stories. For example, each of our timelines now has some unique twists representing 2020. The series began with abstract mixed media painting and progressed to include continuous line portraits, 3D relief paintings, and wire sculpture. “
What inspired you to pursue painting?
Emily: I’ve always loved art, even from my earliest memories. Art as a career just didn’t seem like a possibility to me. However, I went out of my way to bring art and creativity into my life. The seasons where I didn’t were like deserts for my soul. Any little moment dedicated to creativity was like a precious drop of joy bringing a neglected part of me surging to life. After one particularly dry season, I cut back on my corporate job hours and started taking commissions part-time. I loved the time I spent creating so much that I decided to pursue an MFA. It was at the University of East London that I began to believe that it’s possible to make a living as an artist and that it was the right path for me.
My desire to make a difference goes beyond the painted canvas. Before pursuing my MFA, I completed a Masters in Liberal Studies at SMU in Dallas, Texas. My research focused on identity and its role in radicalization in the West. Even as my thesis moved towards completion, I had a disheartening realization that few people would ever read it. I wanted to create something that anyone could look at and be impacted by in a moment. That’s why my work is centered on the value of every human being. We share many uniting commonalities, yet God has gifted us with unique personalities and talents that we can share with our world.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Emily: My practice is characterized by mixed paint and drawing media and a celebration of diversity. Most of my work utilizes continuous line drawings, where the focal point is the drawing which I fill with colors creating a stained glass-like effect. My palette is filled with bold, saturated colors. Although I prefer making 100% abstract works, I’ve found that people often relate better to my portraits.
I LOVE to work on paper and can talk your ear off about different types of paper. When I teach online art classes, I’ll sometimes start rabbit trailing about paper, and my students give me that look like, “Really? Again?’ Yes, again. Ha!
I also love breaking rules with mediums and putting together non-traditional elements. Any chance I get, I use “up-cycled” or found materials in my work. In sculpture, I enjoy using one material to create the illusion of another. For example, making something look heavy that’s actually light.
What is the message you are trying to give with your art?
Emily: As an artist, I dig deep into why people do what they do, visually expressing the complexities of the human condition in mixed media and sculpture. My continuous line series highlights the paradox of our shared humanity and our unrepeatable singularity. We all have basic needs; however, our experiences, choices, and personalities make us unique.
Every person was created priceless. If we take the time to really look at them and their lives, we will not only understand them better, but we’ll also get the chance to celebrate the unique gifts they bring to the world.
Could you walk us through your process? How much planning do you do before you jump into creating an artwork? If you do, what are you trying to solve at each stage of it?
Emily: I usually see something in my head before I start working. Projects don’t always turn out the way that I imagine them, but I use that image as my jumping off point. I have to let that mental image out, or I start to feel internal pressure build. After I get an idea, I’ll often sketch it to see if what’s in my mind will actually translate to reality. Sidebar: I struggle to communicate that initial mental picture with others! Sketching is helpful, but sometimes I just have to ignore the confused looks and dive in. I can’t tell you how many times after successfully completing a project that I’ve heard, “Wow. I didn’t think that was going to work.” The lesson for me is sometimes you just have to pursue an idea and believe in it, even if no-one else gets it.
For my continuous line paintings, I always begin with the line. It’s the story. Then I begin adding color with different media. I allow myself to work over the line and even obscure it sometimes, but it’s still there as a foundation. Like I did in my painting “Follow My Thoughts,” I work to compositionally bring key elements of the work forward by using contrasting colors and different mediums.
Tell me more about unique timelines of personalities and twists representing them in your art. Is it in any way comparable in some way with Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, if you’ve had a chance to watch it?
Emily: I’ve never seen Rashomon before. My work is really more a stream of consciousness. I let the line happen. I LOVE the work of Fahrelnissa Zeid, especially her geometric abstract pieces. When I was introduced to her work at the Tate Modern shortly after creating my painting “Follow My Thoughts”, I nearly cried. When I looked at “Break of the Atom and Vegetal Life,” I felt like I knew her, almost like I was seeing her mind on the canvas, and that if she could see my work, she would get me too. I’ve never connected so personally with an artwork before.
In my portraits, the line represents the life of the individual. It’s like a timeline you can follow through their portrait. Lines are so simple, a beginning and an end, but their applications are endless. Certain parts of our humanity seem mundane, like the line, but they unite us. We’re born. We eat. We sleep. We die. But throughout that timeline, there are so many differences. Those differences are the curves of the line. A failed driver’s test. A passed entrance exam. The birth of your first child. A miscarriage. We don’t know what those curves will look like, and sometimes we underestimate their importance in the moment. But when we step back and look at our lives as a whole, we can see that some of those unexpected turns played a greater role in creating who we are than we realized. I suspect that a few years from now, some of us will look back on 2020 as a year filled with monumental twists, shifts, and changes.
What are you currently working on?
Emily: I’m currently working on several continuous line portrait commissions. Several years ago, I did a mixed media portrait with some collage elements called “Thea Effi”, which featured a young woman who works in orphan homes in Greece. I’m reintroducing some of the collage elements into a new abstract portrait I’m working on. I love the tactile nature of sculpture and college, so I’m happy to be incorporating it into my work again. I feel like it adds depth to the piece and allows me to interact with it in a more direct way.
How has your style changed or evolved over the years?
Emily: Oh my! So so much! I started out doing a hyper-realistic pen and ink drawings. I’ve since branched out into the abstract. I still do many portraits, but I’m interested in pushing the boundaries of realism and embracing a freer style. I feel like it’s about time for the next stage of evolution in my work, and I’m excited to see it unfold.
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Emily: Brandon Lillibridge– his painting texture is sublime. Kaitlyn Heriford– her paintings blend stillness and movement, light and dark. I could stare at her work all day. Stacey Rifkin– Stacey is an Interior Designer that I work with at Pretty Put Together in Los Angeles. She’s not only a brilliant designer, but she’s also been in my corner since the day I met her. She helps others, like me, just because she wants to. I’ve never met such a tiny power-packed woman. #worldchanger
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Emily: When I deliver a commissioned painting to its recipient, I always enjoy the smiles and sometimes the tears that come when they see their work for the first time.
One very memorable response was with one of my grandmothers. She was able to travel to the UK to see my relief painting “The Garden” on display in a gallery. She started crying when she saw it, which I had never seen her do before. It was a deeply humbling and meaningful moment for me.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Emily: I’ve found that the best way to reach people who are interested in my art is to talk about it. When people ask me what I do, I always say, “I’m an artist.” It took me a long time to be comfortable with saying that, but I’ve finally embraced it. I’m always looking for chances to talk with people about my work, whether it’s in an interview like this, social media, or in casual conversations. You never know what opportunities might come your way if you’re open to them.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Emily: Yes, my work is on display at the Hugo Rivera Gallery in Laguna Beach California. I also teach online workshops for kids and adults which you can find out about on my website emilyblackmore.com.
What’s next on the horizon?
Emily: More art! But seriously, the shutdown of 2020 has afforded me the opportunity to reevaluate my life and make it more of what I want it to be. For me, that means dedicating more time to art and other creative endeavors. During the shutdown here in California, I started an Instagram Live Interview Series called #BlankCanvasConvos. Every Thursday, a guest artist and I enjoy a casual conversation about the heart of art. We’ve talked about things like overcoming dry spells, giving yourself grace in the creative process, the role of the artist as a historian, and the artist as a social activist. You can check it out on my Instagram account @emilyblackmoreart. I’d love to hear your questions and have you join the conversation!