Sit Down With Our #090 Featured Artist
Instagram/ Emily Wassell
Featured Artist / #098 ScrawlrBox
My name is Emily Wassell, and I’m a watercolour artist and educator from the UK. I started painting watercolours a few years ago to find creativity around my corporate job, and I fell in love with the process immediately! I specialise in painting floral and natural subjects and now have a creative business teaching other people about the magic of watercolours.
We absolutely love your loose, flow-y watercolour style! What would you say is your favourite way to use watercolours?
Thank you! It took a while to find a style that feels like mine, but now I love using watercolours for an expressive effect. It’s my favourite way to paint because watercolour is such an unpredictable medium and the paints and pigments can shift about on the paper as you create.
I love wet in wet effects where you’re dropping more paint and colours into an area and just letting them blend together. It can sometimes go a bit wrong, but that’s part of the charm. It feels like you’re a kid colouring outside the lines – just really letting loose and having fun.
Is there a meaning behind your artwork?
Sure, I mostly create pieces inspired by the natural world around me. It could be flowers, fruit, leaves – anything that feels like getting back to nature. I also love abstract patterns that strip everything back and focus on colours and shapes – the essential building blocks of art.
All of my work seems to have this common theme of getting back to the essentials and focusing on what’s important, which comes from me using it as an escape from the stress of work and everyday life.
If you had to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
Loose, expressive, colourful
If you could only have one art supply for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is so hard! It would probably be Legion Aqua Stonehenge cold press 100% cotton paper. Paper is the most important watercolour supply, in that cheaper paints and brushes don’t affect the work as much. High quality cotton paper is vital for the paints to be vibrant and for the water to dry evenly. Cheap paper looks flat and patchy. It’s the one thing I spend more on, but Legion have a good range that’s relatively affordable.
Have you always been creative- did you go to art school or is it a self taught passion?
I think all children are creative – it’s instinctive to create and play. But I didn’t get along with art classes at school and didn’t think I had any talent. I stopped as a teenager and only picked it up again as an adult, when I was looking for an escape from a corporate job. I’m partly self taught, but I’ve learned so much from other artists on the way.
Now I’m really passionate about encouraging other people to start being creative again. I’ve been teaching people how to get into watercolour for years through online classes which is so fun. I often get messages from people talking about what an impact creativity has had on their lives – that was certainly true for me too!
How do you know when a piece is finished?
This is a question all artists and creators struggle with! It’s very easy to overwork a painting and make it look muddy or busy. What made a difference for me was getting into the habit of stopping regularly and taking a step back to review it, so you can stop yourself before you go too far.Also, if you’re asking ‘is this complete’, it probably already is. Stop, grab a cup of tea and come back later to che
What draws you to working with watercolours?
The beautiful watery effects drew me to watercolour. It feels like you’re watching the paints dance on the paper, and it’s such a unique medium and forces you to let go of control.I started painting to get a break from my stressful corporate job, and found that there’s something meditative about watching the paints mix and blend on their own.
Do you have any top tips for getting creative when you aren having an ‘off’ day?
It depends on how you’re feeling. If you feel exhausted, overwhelmed and just not yourself, the creative juices won’t flow. Prioritise rest and come back to creativity when you’re feeling more rested.
But if you’re struggling to get started or feel like you are just staring at a blank piece of paper, there are lots of ways to help. I always start with warm-ups – pieces I know I can create in 5-10 minutes that get me going. It could be a quick cluster of flowers or a series of pink and purple circles across the page.
I also love to take part in challenges to expand my subjects – there are loads online that come up with 30 ideas to try in a month. Or tutorials on a new technique can often get me creating, because you feel confident that it will work out
What does your typical day off look like?
I love to have a lazy day off to recharge. I don’t feel guilty about it at all – I’m happy to stay in bed all morning! It could be a late breakfast, a long walk, cooking a meal from scratch and painting for an hour. I like to paint with the TV on in the background and have regular snack breaks – it’s about getting back to the essentials again
tea, coffee or neither?
Coffee all the way, I can’t function in a morning without it. Anything milky is right up my street.
Do you have any big projects you can tell us about lined up for the future?
I’m working on starting a shop to sell prints! I’m really excited about it, but it’s a little scary learning all new things about running a business. It’s all a learning curve