Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Emma Rubens: British Artist Painting Mexico Bright!

Emma Rubens

     On our recent trip to Tulum, Mexico in April, we came across a mural being painting in the downtown area on the side of a building.  As we walked by, we noticed the paint containers along the wall and realized we were seeing a work of art in creation.  Near by, taking a break from the hot Mexico sun in the shade having a cold drink was the artist, or so we assumed. (being covered in paint was a dead give away!)

     The next day we wandered into a local shop and found a print that we liked.  My husband, Scott, chatted with the shop owner about who the artist was and if she were local.  We got a background story and realized it was the same artist we had seen in town.  

I knew that I had to interview her and share her story to inspire our young artists in Anoka, Mn.

Where are you originally from and how did you end up in Mexico?
~ I'm from England but ended up in Mexico on a backpacking trip 9 years ago and never left.
Do you have a background in art and how did you end up an artist?
Both my parents are artists and I have a BA Honors in illustration. I've been into art for as long as I remember. Growing up with both my parents being artists, I don't remember ever not being into art. 

What inspires your artwork?  ~ Anything really... mostly color, light, shadows, and pattern. The human figure. Sometimes I'm just talking to someone and I like the way the light hits their face, or the way they are holding themselves and I suddenly think...wow that would make a good painting
Do you get artist block or ups and downs with your creativity?~ Not so much anymore. I feel like the more I paint the more I can't stop. I am fortunate enough that I make my living doing this so I do it all the time. In the past, when I had a part time job, it was hard sometime to be always motivated to paint if I was tired from my other job, but it definitely relates to being happy. Painting makes me happy, but I also need to be happy to paint. If something is bringing me down, or if something is on my mind it's hard to focus and stay motivated in painting.
What is your favorite medium to use?  ~ Acrylic. I have recently been inspired to start getting into oils, I really don't have much practice in it and want to start playing with it.
Which different ways do you feature your artwork?  Do you have a favorite way to show your artwork such as murals on walls, canvas, prints?~ have a lot of my work on prints which I sell in different stores which is a good steady source of income. I love painting on canvas, I don't like painting on wood; it doesn't absorb the paint well. I absolutely love to paint on walls in the street mostly. I started painting murals a couple years in the streets. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your own work massive in the streets for everyone to see.
What avenues have you used to promote your artwork?~ Mostly I use Instagram and Facebook. Such great advertising tools, I always post my work there and through that I have met many clients. And just from painting in the street, leaving my name underneath all my murals allows people to find me, again through Instagram or Facebook.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as an artist?~ Never stop painting.
What advice would you give to a young artist?~ Again, never stop painting. You get better and better the more you paint. Practice practice practice

Tell me about the project(s) you are working on in Tulum.  
~ I just finished a project called "Tulum Limpio" (Which means Clean Tulum) A group of us painting a bunch of murals to raise awareness for the accumulating trash problem we have here in Tulum. Right now I am working on a painting for a local coffee shop.
Do you have a favorite memory that has to do with your art?  Maybe someone you met, a place you went or story?~ Yes, my father. He is a fantastic painter. I remember sitting on his lap and him explaining to me how perspective works by drawing a railroad track diminishing into the distance. I remember when he explained to me negative space and drew a woman's arm resting on her hip and drew the space within her arm and her body. I remember going to life drawing classes with him when I was 8 and I remember going out with him into the country side in the south of France (where I grew up) with his easel and canvas and sitting there painting and he taught me about how to measure distances by holding his arm out with the pencil and closing one eye.
What other projects have you done?~ Well, I've done quite a few, with regards to mural work within hotels or restaurants and homes. I've sold lots of paintings and done many commissions. But projects in the town; I was involved in a mural festival in Tulum just a year and a half ago, which definitely was the start of the mural boom in Tulum. Since then, artists from all over the world have been coming here and adding their art to the walls. I have also been involved in a live painting event at a hotel on the beach with a group of other painters, I've also had a few shows where I've been able to display my work in local restaurants.
Describe your style.
~ Hmmm... I never really know the answer to this question. I guess it's pretty illustrative and also realistic, always figurative. But it can also be surrealistic when I paint animal heads on human bodies.
What is the biggest misconception of being an artist?~ That we are lazy, distracted and messy and like to suffer. I feel I am definitely quite the opposite.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?~ Well I'm doing what I love to do every day, it's my passion. I am extremely touched and honored that people want to buy and put my art in their homes or businesses. It's such an overwhelming feeling seeing my work around the town and so grateful to hear how clients tell me how a piece I created makes them so happy. I also like that I set my own hours, I can work as late or as early as I want. 

Do you have a job outside of being an artist?~ No, this has only been of the past 2 years where I've been completely self sufficient from my painting. I worked in the service industry as a waitress or bartender for many years.
How do you feel you have grown as an artist?  What have you gotten better at, how has your style changed?~ I have definitely grown in confidence within my own work and trusting my own judgement. My understanding in the importance of color and my understanding of how color mixes. My own personal techniques have gotten better, which means I paint faster and faster. My style has changed with what I feel like painting. I improve with every single painting.
Do you have other projects in the works?~ Right now I am working on a couple commissioned paintings for a local coffee shop.
What would be your dream project?~ I have been dreaming about painting a gigantic mural. But have been feeling a little apprehensive as I've never done anything that big, but this will be manifesting itself in the next few weeks. A painter friend of mine came to me not too long ago, and asked me if I would be interested in collaborating with her and painting the side of a building with her. The building is 3 and a half stories big, we will need scaffolding and a lot of paint! 

In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that Emma has got it going on!  Inspiring other artists and being inspired by the world around her.  I wish I had stopped that day in Tulum to meet her in person...I guess I will just have to visit Tulum again soon!  

Check Emma out on 
or visit her website: www.emmarubens.com

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