Emma Sheldrake has been steadily gaining recognition as one of Brisbane’s fastest rising artists. Previously a Graphic designer, DJ and university lecturer, Emma has spent time mastering a wide variety of skills and pursuits.
Coming from a long line of artists, Emma first developed a fondness for painting at a young age. This interest developed into a passion, when she turned to it for cathartic release. “It was when my father got ill with cancer that I decided one night to get the paints out to ease my mind about it,” Emma explained, “Dad is now in remission, and is also a fine artist who exhibits with me on occasions. He is a constant mentor for me because he has the patience of steel and the skills to paint anything he chooses!”
Emma prefers to focus her talent on creating pop art depictions of the female face. Looking like a cross between fashion magazine photography and Japanese animation, Emma perfectly captures the intense, enchanting stares from stunning beauties. Dripping with colour and personality, these paintings are both magnetic and captivating, drawing the viewer in with their hypnotic charm. “I work on my technique to create a style that is my own, which often still looks wet, with eyes that follow you around the room. To me it is all about the eyes,” She says?, “The work is an extension of my personality. It’s playful and has a lively energy component as I think people who love my work can feel.”
While Emma seems to have found a niche in which she is comfortable, she continually wants to push her work in new directions. She told us, “I would love to get into some landscape. I take enough landscape photos, and I should really make use of all the reference I have. Somehow though, I keep getting hooked on the seduction of female portraits time and time again … The eyes have got me.”
When asked about the process Emma goes through to choose her subject matter, she replied, “I could have a 1000 reference photos that I have taken or sourced and one day I could love some and another none. It could be a person walking down the street that has incredible eyes that connect with me and I stop them and say ‘hey can I paint you’? In a nutshell though, the more spontaneous I am about the process the better.”
Emma is also excited about the potential young artists have in the industry. “Carve a style and stay true to you stumble and fall and pick yourself back up and keep going 'cause it’s so worth it. Even when I do a crap painting I think, well, I started with nothing and now I have something.”
When we asked Emma about the future she said, “More women paintings of course … a show in Melbourne incorporating some painting and fashion I have been doing. I am working on a fashion brand with my partner. I am trying to find a person to paint for the Archibald next year. A solo show and some group shows in Brisbane and Sydney.”