London today, Paris tomorrow...


Emma's Sketchbook: Apart and/or Together

✈︎ London


In light of the EU referendum and subsequent victory of the #Brexit campaign (the portmanteau 'Brexit' alone makes me cringe internally), I thought this project would be a particularly relevant one to share: the title itself can be applied to our current context in many ways, as can a lot of the ideas and themes I mentioned on my initial mind map.

The EU debate was something I never paid much attention to because I - perhaps naïvely - assumed that regardless of all the drama and confusion, we would stay. Most of you reading probably never lived in a time where the UK wasn't a part of the European Union, and for me it's all I've ever known. Change scares me, as does the prospect of being separated from a group of countries that need to stand united now more than ever in the wake of devastating worldwide events. War, terrorism, hatred, discrimination; they all sadly continue to exist in modern society and we need all the support we can get to fight them and win. In spite of all this, I bear no ill will towards those who backed the Leave campaign, because ultimately we are a democracy and they have the right to make their choice. We all have our reasons, and my only hope is that whatever happens, we try and move forward as a nation - the last thing anyone wants is World War III or something of the like as a result of this decision.

Speaking of the decision, since it's been made, here's to hope; the future is uncertain, but so long as we respect each other and compromise, it doesn't have to be a dramatic 'disaster' or 'downfall' as the headlines make it out to be.

Enough rambling...I'm better at talking art than I am politics. On with the project!

Field Trip

Out of all the projects I've done, 'Apart and/or Together' must've been my favourite; here I was handed the reins and therefore took some creative liberties with the direction and execution of my work.

Having settled on the specific concept of airports under the giant umbrella of 'Apart and/or Together', I made a visit to Heathrow Terminal 5 to take some photos in both the Arrivals and Departures areas as some of you may remember from this post. I decided to go there in the evening because of how drastically different the atmosphere would be; it was quiet and nostalgic, with the soft, warm lights of the terminal giving it an inviting ambience. Everyone seemed tired yet happy as a long day drew to a close; shifts ending, loved ones returning, adventures beginning.

Geoffrey Johnson

Having discovered his work while flipping through a book of artists for inspiration, I was quickly drawn to the way Johnson created his city environments: buildings blocked out with watery paint and shadow-like figures dotted about in black ink, their silhouettes running down towards the foot of the bottom of the piece like dripping water. This blurred, rainy effect was really interesting, especially as it made the faceless people seem all the more distant, anonymous, solitary.


A particularly memorable moment of that night in the airport was seeing a group of young children run through the empty check-in area, delighted at essentially having this entire floor of the building to themselves. Even the few lingering staff found it amusing as they raced past each zone and hid behind signs and counters. To them, this place was no more than a giant playground.

Emiliano Ponzi

My next artist of influence was illustrator Emiliano Ponzi who specialises in bold, graphical portrayals of particular concepts or situations that often have a satirical spin on them. Drawings that seem simple enough at first can be picked apart into multiple different meanings and interpretations - less is definitely more in Ponzi's case, and I found his artistic style incredible effective at conveying a message in an eye-catching way that stays in your mind long after you've first seen the image.


As I progressed towards my final idea, I recreated some of my initial images in styles inspired by the artists I'd looked at; from an indistinct watercolour painting, to a collage with acrylic paint, to a straight acrylic painting. I then copied a particularly relevant work of Ponzi's using permanent marker and acrylic paint to test out the more graphical style even further.

Finally I did a mini trial version of my final piece idea, using collage and acrylic paint as I would on the actual canvas. Liking how it looked, I made my decision, and the only thing left to do was recreate it on a larger scale. The resultant canvas? You may remember it from this post...

That's about it for Apart and/or Together; it's a project I still look back on fondly and I wouldn't have changed a thing. It was really nice to invest myself in something I truly enjoyed and explore an idea fully until it came to fruition, and I hope I'll be able to continue doing that in the future. Have the loveliest of weekends my friends, and whether the UK leaving the EU affects you directly or not (I know I have a few readers from other corners of the world, so I hope my long intro didn't bore you!), let's all hope for peace - military, social and political - one day.


A girl's best friend

✈︎ London
Memories and gifts from my ball and chain

Here's to us

Diamonds? Shoes? Handbags? No, my best friend is worth way more than all of those things combined. Today is unofficially National Best Friends Day, and so I felt compelled to celebrate the friendship bordering on marriage between my best friend and I.

In the grand scheme of things, six years does not seem like a particularly lengthy period of time. Merely a fraction of an entire lifespan, but around a third of my existence thus far. The last six years have been a real rollercoaster, but she is the person who braved all the ups and downs with me. I struggle to recall a time before she was there; who knows, perhaps I repressed those memories because they were probably much duller without her presence.

Friendship itself is an interesting concept; where are the lines between the levels? What's the deciding factor? What separates an acquaintance from a friend, a friend from a close friend, a close friend from a best friend? Then there are all the other types of relationship like colleagues, school friends, online friends etcetera - and often there's overlap in categories. But "best friend" seems like a truly definitive term: something absolute, with no ambiguity. Is it possible to have more than one? Maybe. Grammatically, maybe not. Either way, to have one is one of the simplest but greatest luxuries in life. Someone who makes you laugh, offers you your favourite food when you cry, finds the wonder in the world with you, makes you think, cares about your opinion and knows you better than you know yourself. It sounds as if I'm describing a significant other, but let's face best friend is probably the closest thing I'll have to a husband for a while. I'm happy with it that way. We Netflix and chill in the literal sense.

And so the saying "______ are a girl's best friend" has never truly sat well with me, because not only does it conform to old-fashioned stereotypes of women, but every girl should be able to claim more than just materialism as their best friend. We need to form empowering and meaningful connections with one another, guys and girls alike, because a world without best friends would be a sad and lonely world indeed. 

So, to my dearest best friend, thank you for the brownies, the Ben & Jerry's, the moon alerts, the late night therapy, the sitcom marathons, the board games, the life advice, the days out, the lifts home, the Film Fridays, the XXXL hoodie hugs, the TV recommendations, the Skype calls, the understanding and above all, the endless love and support you're always ready to envelop me with. People come and go, but we've been through so much together, it would take far too much time and energy to do this all over again with someone else - so I guess you're stuck with me, sorry!


Emma's Sketchbook: Pattern & Texture

✈︎ London

Finding the beauty in the ordinary

With Natural Forms done and dusted, I moved onto a new project entitled 'Pattern and Texture'. As self-explanatory as the title seems, it's also incredibly broad, so generally I looked at the pattern and texture within our everyday lives, for both decorative or practical purposes.

It was through this sketchbook that I discovered I really enjoy the subject of cities and modern architecture, hence why some of my more recent work has been strongly influenced by urban settings. Probably the double-page spread I'm most proud of in the entire book is this one featuring architectural mouldings and cornices. Although the detail within them was painstakingly difficult to capture, it was nonetheless interesting to identify all the shapes and tones in these sculpted masterpieces.

I went on a mission to find examples of pattern and texture in my local area, with most of them being in fencing and gates in front of houses. I then edited them in rather extreme and gaudy ways to bring out all the different features in the images. Here in this painting you can see I've played with the saturation and contrast in the photograph to make all the elements of pattern and texture stand out - shadows, rust and all.

The V&A collections are always a goldmine for interesting and intricate pieces spanning decades or even centuries of British history. There I looked at Art Nouveau pioneer Charles Rennie Mackintosh whose work (or moustache, for that matter) you'd be hard pressed not to recognise; I wandered around the ironwork floor, as well as admiring the sheer brilliance of all the precious stones in the jewellery exhibition.

Beatriz Milhazes' colourful collages were not to go amiss in this sketchbook; her tendency towards concentric circles and geometric shapes juxtaposed with vivid colours always makes for a really fun and bold piece of art, inspired by her Brazilian roots.

I hope you liked this brief look into my second formal project - a post all about the resultant final piece to follow shortly! Have a wonderful week everyone.