Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Emily Walker: I’ve been creating ever since I can remember! My (super abstract and creative) mom had a craft room that took up half of our basement growing up, so my friends and I spent hours and hours creating baked goods out of plaster of Paris, painting our papers (and selves), and pressing flowers that we collected. I somehow ended up at a very preppy, sports-focused high school, however, with very little emphasis on the arts, so I sought out programs outside of my school. That’s when I started studying classical figure drawing. These days, my main mediums are pen and watercolor. But I dabble in many many mediums (such as wood burning and jewelry making) and last year I taught ceramics.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
Well, it really starts with my travels and explorations! For the projects I do for fun, I tend to draw and paint places I have been or places that are special to me. These are places I daydream about or have a clear picture of in my head. Then I spend a good bit of time using my micron pens to flush out a detailed pen and ink drawing. Sometimes this is where the piece ends, if I am not adding any color to it. I may leave it for a few days and then come back to it with fresh eyes and make some tweaks or additions. That’s one thing that I love about pen, the permanency of it. The figure drawings I did for years and years were always done in conte crayon, graphite, or charcoal, so I could go in and erase things really easily. For me, that mentality bred perfectionism and the process of creating was pretty linear. People always ask me, “how can you draw with pen on the first layer!? Don’t you make mistakes??” And yes, I do. All of the time. But I love that if I make a mistake, I have to embrace it. And usually the piece ends up transforming into something so much better, with a meaningful story.
If I am creating a piece with color, once I have that first illustration down, I will add watercolor to it layer by layer. Then I go back in and add detail to places where the opaque watercolors I use had covered up the pen drawing. And really then it’s just a back and forth until I feel like the piece looks right and finished. In all honestly I usually create from my bed or from my kitchen counter, listening to podcasts (something on food or nerdy science or stories probably), and surrounded by at least 3 different drinks and snacks.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My background is in biology, as well as fine art, so I am very much drawn to and inspired by nature. Especially plants. I love drawing and painting mountains, and I often find ideas for these paintings on my own climbing and mountaineering adventures.
Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Nature hands down! Being a total foodie and a plant nerd, though, I definitely love to find the intersection of all of these things in my art. For instance, creating pen and ink illustrations of beer or chai ingredients. Because I spent several years working on an organic farm and studying plant-pollinator interactions, honey bees and scientific illustration style botanicals make up most of my portfolio these days. They also translate well to tattoos, which are frequently in demand lately.
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I adore my pen and ink and watercolor illustration of Mt. Rainier that I did for a friend from the PNW. The mountain itself is just so near and dear to my heart and I love the muted color palette that it ended up taking on. It feels like there is a filter on it or something. Like a memory. It’s special.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I would say that my time spent studying plants and working in gardens and on farms has been the most influential to my art practice. Learning the ins and outs of plants and plant physiology definitely made me appreciate them more, and therefore capture them in a different light. I hope that my love for plants comes across in my work.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
Right now I am working in tech so I am pretty fascinated by the digital world. I took a graphic design course earlier this year, but I think my next step is to take some web design classes and learn how to digitize my work better. Perhaps playing around with tablets! I’d love to make stickers, tea towels, wallpapers, and tote bags next.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
Extra strong with a splash of oat milk please!