Each year, the Undergraduate Review board is astonished by the quality of work submitted by Queen’s students.
When we started to receive submissions for the 31st Volume of the Undergraduate Review, the board was blown away by one artist in particular, and we knew right away that we wanted her to be our first ever Artist of the Month.
We are very excited to introduce you to Emily Joyce, a fourth year Fine Arts Major and Art History Minor at Queen’s. We asked her a few questions to learn more about her creative process.
What is a critique that you’ve received about your work that you didn’t agree with?
One critique that I have gotten many times is that I use too much bright colour in my works – especially the colour pink! There is something about saturated colour that honestly lightens my mood, and although colour is not the most important aspect of my work, it’s one of the most important elements for me personally when creating my work. I have found that if I have a project where I’m advised to use a limited/neutral colour palette, I find it difficult to bring myself to go to the studio to work on the assignment because I don’t enjoy working on it nearly half as much as I do when I can use the vibrant colours I naturally gravitate towards. However, I truly appreciate receiving critique on my work in general because it is something that I believe all artists need in order to grow, so over the years I have taken this critique into consideration and have tried to use bright colours in a more sophisticated way by using them gradually and pairing them with neutral colours that complement them.
What do you dislike the most about creating art?
What I dislike most about creating art is waiting for paint to dry! That is half the part of being a painter – patience. If you don’t wait for paint to dry in between layers, colours will become muddy and you most likely will not get the end result you were hoping for. For this reason I tend to have at least two paintings in the works so that I can move from one to the other while paint layers are drying. This also allows me to step back from one piece for a while, work on the other, and then come back to it with fresh eyes.
What do you like the most about creating art?
One thing I love the most about creating art is the fact that I can do it at any point in the day, no matter what time it is and no matter how tired I am. When it comes to work from other classes – essays in art history, practice questions from organic chemistry – I completely lose the ability to focus and do good work after around 9 pm. However, when it comes to painting I can work until 3 in the morning and not realize how late it is or how much time has passed! As long as I have my music or a podcast playing as some background noise, I can become so fully immersed in my paintings that I can escape and zone out from the world around me and spend hours on end in the studio.
What is an element of creating that you did not expect to encounter?
One element of creating that I did not expect to encounter is how mentally exhausting or challenging it can be at times! When starting a new project, every artist has an image in his or her head of what the end result of their work should look like, and sometimes this image is very difficult to recreate, which can be frustrating. However, I find that the more I “fight” with a work and have to overcome obstacles when creating them, such as taking time figuring out what colours or compositions work best through trial and error, the more I value the piece in the end. I also value the result of time-consuming and challenging painting processes even though they may be mentally exhausting at times - spending time painting small details or mixing colours exactly right, taking hours to do tedious processes such as underpaintings and glazes, or even having to completely re-do a paint layer when it doesn’t end up working out like I intended it to. In the end, nothing is more rewarding than finally finishing a work that I am completely satisfied and happy with!
Is your art a career choice or a hobby? Why?
My art is definitely a factor in my decision making for a career choice. However, I didn’t start creating art with the intention of one day wanting to explore a career in Visual Arts – it was merely just a hobby! Drawing and painting are things that I have always enjoyed doing in my spare time. I only started seriously thinking about exploring a career in the arts when I started attending an arts high school. I had two amazing art teachers who taught me almost everything I know about art and the value of creativity. They were also the first people to introduce me to art history, which they also taught in our classes, and I figured out that I enjoyed learning about art history just as much as I enjoyed creating art. When it came to grade 12 and everyone was thinking about what university and program they were applying to, I could not imagine myself being happy studying anything else but Visual Art. My art teachers inspired me to pursue a career that included art because for every day of those 6 years they came to class happy to teach, and I knew that with whatever job I ended up with, I wanted to show up to work the exact same way. This ended up leading me to Queen’s Fine art program with an art history minor.
Through my years at Queens I have continued to enjoy both creating artwork my art classes and the study of art history. In hopes to work in a field where I can bridge the two passions together, I hope to complete a masters degree in either Art Conservation at Queen’s or a masters in Art History where I can study historical reconstructions and the more “material” aspect of art history. These careers would allow me to do research on my favourite artists in closer detail while also incorporating my knowledge and first-hand experience of materials and the painting process. More than that, these careers would essentially allow me to spend my life doing something I love!
To see some of Emily’s work, check out her website and follow her instagram account.