Emily Proud : Interview & Studio Tour

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Emily Proud is an artist with an unwavering penchant for watercolor painting. Proud is a San Francisco native with an inclination towards the natural life of California and the coast, which is apparent in her bright and vivacious color schemes. I visited Emily in her studio and asked her about her day to-day life as an artist and a bit about her process with watercolors.

Read the full interview below.:

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Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? 

I’m an artist. These days I paint exclusively in watercolor and my work is abstract and influenced by the California landscape and culture.

Can you talk about your process as a designer/artist?

Sometimes I work in my sketchbook outside in the places that inspire my paintings. From these quick, unselfconscious watercolors, that are usually more realistic than the paintings I share publicly, I take pieces I think are interesting and develop them further. I am always thinking about ways to make shorthand for things via painting. I also make a lot of color studies and color charts to find just the right combinations to capture the mood I’m going for. Sometimes when I’m in a rut I give myself “homework” by making series of quick, small paintings where I try not to think about things too much in order to discover a new approach.

My technique often involves a lot of layering and having to wait for paint to dry, so I may have more than one painting going at a time. However, I am often in situations where even if I have five paintings in progress, I’m spending a lot of time waiting and having to be patient. When I mess up I can’t paint over it like I could in acrylic or oil, so each step I am trying to be very careful, but at the same time I try not to be too careful. I could use tape for some of the lines in my work but I choose not to because I like the little imperfections that come along with doing something by hand. 

How does the community shape your practice, vice versa? 

My (professional) community is very much online via social media. However, there are a lot of people I’ve met online who have become my real life friends. The internet has made it very possible for me to connect with my role models and find people with similar career paths to confide in. So I would have to say that my practice has been able to grow and evolve faster than it might have otherwise due to all the information and resources out there.

What/Who is inspiring you lately? 

I tend to get inspired when I get out of the city. I really love Sonoma and try to go there as much as possible. I stayed in Sea Ranch for the first time last November and I cannot stop thinking about the mood and the colors there. I’m also inspired by whatever movies or books I’ve seen or read recently, and my favorite artists these days include Ellsworth Kelly, Helen Frankenthaler, and Georgia O’Keeffe (her abstract watercolors). 

What are some of your favorite places/spaces in SF? 

Ah, this is a really hard question for me to answer. I grew up in the Inner Richmond but now I live in the Mission so there are so many things. My favorite bookstore is Green Apple, which is a couple blocks from my childhood home. My favorite lookouts are Lands End, the de Young tower, Coit Tower and Bernal Hill. The Rotunda is the best place in San Francisco to feel fancy and Shotwells is my favorite bar. I could write a novel but that’s all for now. 

// emilyproud.com 

Words and Photos // Loren Crosier 

Oakland/SF Local is an ongoing collaboration with LoCro Studio as a part of City Local, an 1137 original column that features art and design savvy people, places and thoughts from different cities across the country as told by even savvier local contributors.