Artist of the Week: Emily Stevens

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This weeks artist is Emily Stevens. Predominantly working with paint, Emily is an Artist of Residence at Pell’s pool in Lewes this summer, and also shares an art gallery space in Hove, where some of her biggest ideas are created. Having had a wake-up call in her mid-thirties, whilst realising the vulnerability of life, Emily takes a lot of inspiration from just about everywhere. From bodies of water, to daydreaming, to her little girls, this woman will pull out her sketchbook anywhere she finds inspiration.

What are you doing today? 

Today I will start the day early by painting poolside at the glorious Pells pool in Lewes between 7 and 9am. I’m Artist in Residence here for the entire summer season and I try to get there a few times a week to paint and draw in the fresh air. After a paint and hopefully a swim in the pool I will head to the studio I share in Hove with 20 other artists (Studio106). It’s a big open-plan space with other painters, illustrators, photographers, writers and creatives.

Describe where you do most of your creative work

Everywhere! I get my ideas whilst running or sea swimming, or daydreaming, or from snippets of conversations with my daughters (aged 2 and 4). I work outside by the pool, or on the beach, or at home on the kitchen table. I sketch on the train or in a cafe or whilst eating breakfast with my girls. Most of my messy paints and paper are in my studio space in Hove, however, so I guess this is where the big things get done.

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?

My current Artist Residency at Pells pool is the most exciting project so far. I was dreaming of doing this a few years ago and cannot believe I’m actually doing it now; sitting outside in the sun (and ocasional rain), painting and drawing in a place I adore. Just magic.

What made you decide to become an artist?

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I got a bit sidetracked by also wanting to do other things, and not having the belief that I could be an artist. It was a big wake up call in my mid-thirties (the loss of a baby and subsequent realisation that life is not to be wasted), that made me just get on and do it.

What are you currently working on?

Painting water, poolside and beachside. Working on producing a body of work for my upcoming featured artist slot at Chalk Gallery in Lewes in November. Also, I’m always working on tonnes of new ideas, lots of play and experimentation, which drives me a bit bonkers as I feel like there’s just so much I want to do!

What are the key themes in your work?

Water is central to my work, whether it’s the sea or the beautiful outdoor pool where I’m Artist in Residence. I also love to draw people – I sketch everywhere, even if I go out for dinner (drives my family mad).

What would you like people to notice about your work?

I’d like people to notice the way I see things, and hopefully draw attention to a way of seeing things that the viewer may not have noticed. That’s what I love about other people’s art.

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What attracts you to the medium you work in?

I work mainly with acrylic paints, which suit working outside and working fast, using layers and layers.

What equipment could you not do without?

I feel bereft without my sketchbook. I take it everywhere. You never know when you might get 30 seconds to make a drawing.

Who or what inspires you?

It sounds cheesy but my daughters inspire me more than anyone. I want them to always have the courage to go for what they believe in and I’m pretty sure I’ve got to set the example here.

How is your art effected by living in this area?

My art is deeply influenced by living in Brighton, as I absolutely love the sea; love watching it and love being in it. I’m lucky as a clam that I live right on the seafront and get to see the sea the minute I wake up.

What’s your favourite thing do to locally?

Swim in the sea! Run or walk on the South Downs. Ride my bike past Churchill Square (I’m joking here).

What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?

I love the Royal Academy in London – their summer show is always a winner for me. Locally, I love to see the variety and excellent work at Cameron Contemporary in Hove.

If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?

There’s a piece by David Hockney that’s called Mount Fuji and flowers. I’ve seen it in the flesh and I just couldn’t stop studying it. The blues were so beautiful. Photos do not do it justice.

If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?

I think it would have to be my late great uncle, Anthony Harper. He was a portrait painter and I have one of his beautifully detailed and atmospheric paintings on my wall. He died when I was very little and I wish I’d got the chance to ask him about his art and learn from him.

Who do you think is the most underrated artist?

I think there are a hell of a lot out there!!

What’s your favourite colour?

Today it’s pale lilac/purple. Tomorrow it may be orange!


To see more of Emily’s beautiful work, check out her website here:


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