Profile of Emma Grzonkowski
History and background
It has always been my dream to become an artist, drawing has always fascinated me and as a child I loved nothing more than to be in my own idealistic world, sitting for hours on end, trying to encapsulate my playful imagination and put all my sketches down on paper.
The desire to create my own vision was sparked, and if I was struggling with something, I would frequently ask my dad to draw it for me. I would watch him intently and after pinning the drawing up on my bedroom wall I would copy it again and again until I got it right.
However the first masterpiece I ever created was on the backseat of his brand new car, a beautiful drawing of a flower in bright blue biro the need to create was just that strong.
Art continued to be my main focus, at home, throughout school, and then on to sixth form college, at Sir John Deanes College here I was encouraged to push my technical ability, with reference to the study of the great Masters.
I went on to study fine art and graphic design, at Chester University. It was here that I was given free reign to truly experiment, we were given no boundaries and I had to find my own style, which was brilliant. It was during the second year of my degree that disaster struck; a special person was taken away from me in a sudden and fatal car accident.
My whole world was torn apart and I was completely lost and in searching for reasons answers and solace, I turned to the only thing which I felt could not be taken way from me, my painting.
The inspiration and desire to paint from the soul evolved. I found myself painting endlessly, as a release in an ever expressive and often frantic manner, every painting reflecting my quest to find inner peace.
I was determined to do the very best that I could in honour of my soul mates memory and to make him proud, I battled through my degree, and finished with a body of artwork which was truly soulful. It was at this point that I realised that I needed to pursue my dream.
Ideas and inspiration
My inspirations are drawn from the reflection of self experience and emotive senses. My work is an evolving journey with each painting representing feelings and states of being.
I use myself as the physical subject, which feels natural to me due to the introspective nature, emphasising the emotion with the surrounding background. I am interested by the juxtaposition of the literal figurative content against abstract expressive forms, which provoke two different states of mind.
The physicality of painting interests me, and I love to paint energetically, painting most of the background with my hand. In terms of artists I am influenced by Bacon, Freud, and John Piper, and recently comic artist David Mack who creates beautiful characters through the bleeding of water saturated colours and which inspired the fluidity of my work.
From Palette to Picture
All of my paintings are usually sourced from digital photographs, taken by myself. The shots are either taken spontaneously, exposing raw emotion or are either thought out compositions taken on a time setting.
I usually enhance the images digitally on the computer and experiment with contrast and colour, to give me an idea of light and composition. I prefer to work on a slightly textural surface, to give the painting more interest, which I create simply by making expressive markings with acrylic paint with my hands. It is important that the paint is not too thick as I like to allow the paint to bleed. I tend to work with water based acrylic, in thin layers of colour which I gradually build up, light to dark. I allow the paint to dry naturally and use a lot of water, which I direct the flow of.
When the image has built up definition, I often introduce an element of chance to my work by physically throwing paint over the top of the image to break up the linear qualities. This process consists of defining and then distorting continuously. I then seal the canvas lightly with varnish for a finishing touch.
A Day in the Life of...
I wake up early most mornings at around 7.30am and then meander downstairs, usually with one eye partially open the other still shut with crazy looking hair, which makes me look like an electrocuted cat! Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I religiously have about two bowls of cereal and three cups of tea before I can actually function. I look out onto our picturesque back garden and reflect upon the pieces that I am currently working on and mentally preparing my thoughts and ideas for the day ahead.
At about 9.00am I do a 100 yard dash to the bottom of the garden, where lies my studio, which looks like a dolls house. It is surrounded by trees and covered in climbing roses, backing onto a cricket field. I am very lucky to work in a setting which is so idyllic, in a place which holds so many happy memories.
The pretty external appearance of my studio is contrasted by the fact that once you step inside my ‘little house’ you would think that there has been some kind of explosion, which has caused paint to fly off in every possible direction and splatter the whole interior. I am unbelievably messy and have to step very carefully as there are always discarded, (but more often than not full) tubes of opened paint lying in wait for anyone who may enter.
After a quick clear up I look at my work from a distance, mix my colours, and then most importantly put on my CD player. I find that music is an essential part of the creative process for me, as it evokes powerful emotions which I ultimately want to express with the paint. I choose the music according to the pace at which I am working and the desired effect that I want to achieve. If I am working expressively I will put on a frantic piece of music to fire me up, that tends to aid the spontaneous nature of my craft.
My work is very physical and I am constantly changing the position of the canvas according to the effect I want to achieve. If I am using a lot of water to build up the layers and create a bleeding effect I will paint on the floor with my legs either side of the canvas and look as if I am doing a new form of yoga, which is always amusing to anyone who visits me.
I tend to work in intense two hour sessions and have five minute breaks in between, when I usually go up to the house for my essential caffeine intake which I am convinced helps fuel my vision. I tend to do the most detailed parts of the work in the morning where my concentration levels are at their peak and the abstract elements later on in the day when I am the most relaxed and therefore tend to work in a loose manner and am far less constrained.
At around 5.00pm or 6.00pm I stop for dinner, then I usually have some time with my mum and dad and have some social interaction after a day in solitary confinement. I spend an hour or so relaxing with them before I return for the night shift which is a most exciting time for me to paint.
Painting at this time of day is usually my most productive period, when my mind is running free and the most dynamic layers are created, my heart beats fast at this point as there is a real element of chance and I am constantly reinventing what I first envisaged in my mind.
Finishing time really depends on my mood and how easy I am able to walk away. My way of winding down after a hard day is a glass or two of wine with friends or a very long swim at my local gym. Because I have little contact with the outside world I tend to let my hair down at the weekend and hit the town with my friends.