Emily Powell’s evocative paintings serve as a panacea in our troubled times

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Authored by News Desk
Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 14:29

Artist Emily Powell uses a vibrant and juxtaposing colour pallet to create works that inspire positive, emotive responses. Inspired by the aquamarine of the sea she sees daily from her studio balcony or the vibrant pinks from berries on local walks, she captures the essence of land and sea in technicolour.

Emily Powell began painting at a young age, following the death of her father when she was seven. She started painting works with vivid and vital colours, depicting everyday scenes with a light-hearted energy, with the direct intention to bring joy back into the lives of her grieving family. Since then she has felt her role as an artist is to create work that brings happiness and beauty into people’s homes.

Powell lives in a four-storey fisherman’s cottage in Brixham, Devon. Her studio is on the top floor and overlooks both the harbour and the fish factory, allowing her to watch the fisherman bringing in their daily catch, and their boats floating out to sea. This scene is central to her work, which often features maritime elements. Powell lives with her husband, a framer, who builds and frames her canvases.  

As well as painting with traditional oils and acrylic, Powell uses locally sourced boat paint in her work, giving the canvas’ surface a bold and robust finish.  Specifically designed to complement the sea and the sky, these colours allow the artist to paint the vast skies of deep blue and textured oceans of bold turquoise. These are then overlaid with clashing shades of coral pink, red and orange that create a surreal and exotic feel. 

The majority of Powell’s paintings are created en plein air, beginning with sketches made in the depths of countryside or on the beach. As a result, many paintings often harbour tactile and raw evidence of their environment, with particles of sand and salt encrusting the canvas.

Powell will be featuring in a new BBC Two documentary airing in Autumn 2020 that follows three artists as they apply for the RA Summer Exhibition 2020 with an entry work that draws on the exhibition’s theme of global warming. Consideration for the RA is particularly poignant for Powell, as she used to visit the Summer Exhibition as a child with her father.

As a student of sculpture at Norwich School of Art, Powell’s paintings retain a sculptural quality, the multiple layers of thick, textured paint giving them a weight and gravitas that belies the levity of the colour. Powell went on to study painting in Paris and Rouen, perfecting her technique with paint on canvas.

Powell’s vibrant painting serve as a panacea to our troubled times. The majority of Powell’s work is sold through Instagram, and was in particularly high demand during the Covid-19 lockdown. She is represented by galleries all over the country: Morningside Gallery, Edinburgh, Gallery 5, Salcombe, Russell Gallery, London, Cambridge Contemporary and The Bowie Gallery, Totnes where her work will be shown in an upcoming group exhibition opening in October 2020.

She has been accepted into the Royal Society of British Artists annual exhibition, as well as being included in Pastel Society’s annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries earlier this year. She has also had her work shows at START art fair at the Saatchi Gallery and has created designer greetings cards for MOMA NY, British museum, Harrods, Mall Galleries and Bafta.


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