Emily Proud, Painter

Stepping into Emily Proud's home studio is like wandering into the Atlantis of San Francisco real estate. You hear a lot about places like this, but never see them, so you decide they don't exist. Well, ladies and gentleman, they do! Smooth white walls leading up to high ceilings, bay windows throughout, a fireplace ensconced in subtle Victorian moulding, and (GASP!) a lush backyard outfitted with a trellis covered chair swing and countless wildflowers. It's no wonder Emily produces such stunningly ethereal work. Watercolor is one of the hardest materials to master, and master it she has. Playing with levels of pigment saturation and value, Emily translates everyday observations into visual shorthand while cherishing the decisive nature of the medium and experimenting endlessly. Today Lisa Says Gah takes you along as we bask in the sun of Emily's dreamy backyard and chat with her about The Bay Area's art community, bursts of creativity, and finding your daily uniform. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Emily! Can you walk us through your path? What kind of stops were on the way to where you are now? Are you a Bay Area native?

Yes, I am a Bay Area native! I was born and raised in San Francisco. I was lucky to grow up in a place that appreciates art and has a lot of resources. As far as my path goes, I liked painting as a kid, and I had family and teachers who encouraged me. I took art classes in high school and went to UCLA for art school. I graduated in 2008 and worked at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for four years. In 2012, I started to take painting more seriously and ended up where I am now. That’s about it!

LSG: When did you know a career in the art world was for you?

I just decided as a kid that I wanted to be an artist and never questioned it!

LSG: Tell us about the materials you choose to work with.

I’ve worked with a little bit of everything over the years, but watercolor is my favorite. I prefer the immediacy, and I like the touch, weight and even the sound of working on paper. I also like the idea of becoming knowledgeable of one thing. It would be cool to learn how to make my own watercolors and paper.

LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it? Can you take us through your process and concept?

A lot of my paintings are inspired by something I saw that just struck me a certain way. They also showcase properties of watercolor that I find beautiful. I usually go straight to paper to hash it out, not expecting to get it right the first time. I may have to go through a few iterations before I create what I was going for. My process is slow, so I’m usually working on a few things at a time.

LSG: Can you speak to your relationship with creative struggle?

My creativity comes in bursts. There will be a week that I make a bunch of paintings and another that I hardly make any. I’ve just learned to accept this and roll with it. Deadlines are great in my book when it comes to staying motivated.


LSG: What do you have to say to those trying to “make it” in creative fields?

I would say create an Internet presence. I think that’s helped me the most in getting my work out there.

LSG: What is your relationship with fashion like? How do/do you see fashion intersect with art?

I looooove fashion. I really do. I’ve always taken clothing pretty seriously and enjoyed being creative with it. As I get older, I’m more and more interested in finding a uniform that works for me and less interested in experimenting with weird thrift finds like I did in high school. I change my hair quite often, though. Fashion is just another great way to express yourself like art is. Have fun with it!

LSG: What are requirements when it comes to an article of clothing? Do you have separate wardrobes for work and life, or are the two one and the same?

I’m super picky. Comfort is big. I can’t handle a lot of fast fashion because it’s made of crappy materials. I will go into the men’s section and fondle the fabric and construction and get so pissed because it’s so much better. I would never wear stilettos. I am drawn to androgynous looks. In middle school, my mom would beg me to dress cuter because I preferred baggy cargo pants!

My clothing from studio to nighttime doesn’t differ too much, but I have noticed that a lot of the “flair” in my outfits comes from a fun coat or a swipe of lipstick. None of which I’m usually wearing while I’m painting, so I guess I feel a little bit more complete when I’m out and about.

LSG: How do you feel about the art world of the Bay Area? Why do you chose to live here?

I really like the art community in the Bay Area. People have been very kind and supportive. It’s small, but I think that suits me best because I’m a homebody. I mostly chose to live here because my family and my friends are here but at the same time I don’t think it would have lasted if it didn’t have art.

LSG: We know that an artist's work is never done but when you do take breaks, where might one find you on a sunny day off?!

I am all about time off. I am religious about it, actually. My favorite place to relax is Sonoma. I also like the park, or participating in anything that involves eating and drinking.

LSG: Is there anything in your neighborhood that we should check out?

I have a pretty awesome backyard (thanks to my upstairs neighbor who likes to garden). I like having tea out there sometimes in the morning. I live on a beautiful tree lined street in the Mission that has all kinds of fun things in walking distance, including Urban Putt, where I will school you in mini golf — just saying!

Interview: Olivia La Roche  Photography: Anna-Alexia Basile  Design: Alaia Manley

Interview: Olivia La Roche

Photography: Anna-Alexia Basile

Design: Alaia Manley