Interview with artist Emma Perring
Many people have commented upon the numerous paintings of florals and textile explorations that we have in our home. When you live in an old cottage that requires off white walls but when one is a secret lover of colour, paintings allow our walls to brighten our lives.
We are extremely fortunate to have inherited a wealth of paintings from my husbands Great Aunt Muriel Pemberton. Thankfully her glorious, bold, joyful style is exactly what our cottage needs and what I adore. Muriel was not only a very talented artist but quite an extraordinary woman: she won a place at the Royal College of Art but quickly realised that she wanted to study fashion design, unfortunately no such course existed so she badgered the head of the design school until he agreed that she could write her own curriculum. Thus she became in 1931 the only student to graduate from the Royal College in Fashion Studies. She went onto tutor at Central St Martins as well as designing for Libertys, drawing for Vogue Fashion and becoming a successful painter . Her paintings are visceral, alive with colour and movement and make ours a very happy home.
To read more about Muriel head to https://www.chrisbeetles.com/artists/pemberton-muriel-rws-fsia-1909-1993.html
Muriel also inspired my love of floral paintings. When we first moved into our cottage , I was umming and ahhing over curtains (I had cuddled the Cabbages and Roses sample book every night for months), I was worried that florals might look too chintzy. My best friend @mybigfatrefub bluntly stated “If anyone can get away with chintzy florals then it is you in this house!!!”. I have followed that dictum ever since and happily wafted around my house and garden of floral delight!
Interestingly Muriel only took up professional painting very late in life. I recently gave myself the most beautiful painting best birthday present ever from artist Emma Perring who spent her youth looking after horses then became a graphic designer although because of her dyslexia quickly realised that it wasn’t the best fit and finally gave in to the paint in her early 30’s – thank goodness she didn’t leave it as long as Muriel!!!
The paint is allowed to be thick, exuberant and expressiveEmma Perring on her favourite artists’ styles: Sargent, Sorolla, Munnings, Seago
” I came back to art my early thirties. I completed some modules towards a fine art degree but discovered that it didn’t teach me what I wanted to learn. The modern BA seems to favour abstraction and experimentation over solid draftsmanship and a high skill level. After some research I discovered the world of atelier art training. A movement where master painters teach students purely though applied art -no essays- yay! In 2015 I received some inheritance and took the plunge. I rented my flat, booked a flight to Florence and enrolled in Angel art academy to try and learn to draw and paint like an old master. Two years and many great memories later I felt I had the skills to say what I wanted with a paint brush.”
Did you have a creative upbringing?
I had a horsey up bringing. Growing up on a farm made me very outdoorsy, so taking my paints to the great out doors just felt the right
thing to do for me.
As an observational painter I prefer to paint from life only. The results are so much more rewarding that working from photo. I think nostalgia plays a part for me. Often the things I choose to paint have happy memories from times spent in my grandmas beautiful garden, or from a favourite seaside holiday. I love painting around Saffron Walden, probably because I grew up there and have fond memories. The chocolate box houses are a draw too, obviously.
What style of house do you live in? Family? Pets?
Since returning from Florence I have been living in the Victorian family farm with a walled garden (but I will be moving back to Saffron Walden this year). I adopted Piggie – my beloved lurcher. She turned up on the road out side the farm one day. The thinnest dog I’d ever seen. It was heart breaking. She is the best dog ever and thanks me every day for taking her in.
Favourite Childhood book? I loved all the Roald Dahl books. I think laughter is a genuine tonic. I also loved Quentin Blake’s brilliant illustrations.
Are there any artists that influence your work? Whose work do you admire?
I admire so many artists! I love representational painters from the recent past such as Sargent, Sorolla, Munnings, Seago. These painters have such a masterful yet loose style. The paint is allowed to be thick, exuberant and expressive; combined with excellent draftsmanship and a focus on portraying light. Often bright sunlight. All these artist worked outside a great deal. To paint like that for me would be the ideal. I also love the work of flower painters like William Nicolson and Arther Streeton.
Light is obviously very important in your paintings, whether it is a reflection on glass or moving water; is light important to your every day life (I struggle living in a old dark cottage and need to be outside a lot)!
Absolutely! Like all humans, I need to be out side and connect with the natural world and feel the sun light. I think I have a touch of the SAD syndrome. I think most of us do. It is probably why I enjoy painting “Plein Air” – a french term meaning in plein air/ painting outdoors. The expression was coined around the time of the french impressionists to describe their style.
Are you passionate about flowers? What do you prefer
Yes! I love flowers and creating a garden stuffed with them . My excuse for spending so much at the garden centre is ‘ they are models for my work’. Flowers are fascinating because their petals are translucent. When the light sines though them they sing with light. I also love painting flowers as a way of tracking the season, starting with narcissus yellows and greens in early spring.. Then all the blush shades of roses and peonies.. then ochre landscapes and hot rich red spectrum plants like dahlias and heleniums…
Artists are often asked what their work is trying to say. Muriel painted to explore textiles and colour initially, what prompted you to paint the way you do?
Things in nature are so beautiful. There is such poetry in the C curves and S curves of a single stem and flower. I think I always wanted to paint in a way that I could properly represent that beauty. Now I have developed the skill to say that. I also find I am especially pleased with a painting if it is filled with light and joy. Especially with the plein air work. (I want my work to offer escapism.) Story telling is also becoming important..even in the latest still lives such as Breakfast Under the Roses’ and ‘Summer Reflections’. I want people to wonder where the dinners are? What are their back stories? Could it be them at the table? I defiantly want to explore this further.
What is the favourite part of your job?
I’m so blessed to do what I love. It’s a strange thing to say but painting has made my life complete. I would encourage any one who’s ever fancied it to make a little time to create something beautiful.
Emma has been invited to take part in Country Living’s virtual pop up shopping event today Sunday 9th September. Head to https://www.countryliving.com/uk/out-and-about/country-living-fairs/a32266484/artisan-pop-up-market/ for 20% off all Emma’s work today. Don’t be put off by the form, fill it in and then they will send you the discount code so that you can shop to your hearts (and walls) content! Snap up her work now, I suspect she will be a ‘collectable’ so grab one now before she becomes super famous and you end up bidding thousands of pounds on ebay for a painting that should have stayed in the family anyway….oh – is that just Muriel’s paintings?!!!
Have a look at the rest of Emma’s stunning work at https://www.emmaperring.com/
and follow her on instagram https://www.instagram.com/emma.perring/