My name is Emma Fineman, I am 29 years old, born in Berkeley California, no pets yet but I'm hoping to get a cat in the coming year and will name him Rupert. In a book a read recently called "Dancing with the Gods" by Kent Nerburn he talks about the notion of the work making itself through the artists hand, not the other way around and this resonated with me.


JAN 15, 2021. LONDON. UK.


Tell us your story, how did you come to painting? I have been quite lucky in that my grandmother on my paternal side, my mother and her father are/where all artists working primarily in painting. Growing up in that environment meant that painting was always an important part of my life. For as long as I can remember I have considered myself an artist, and painting has felt somewhat inevitable.

How would you define your current painting? In short i'd say currently the work is gestural and often figurative.

Tell us about your style and technique. Any secret that can be told? I think the big secret when it comes to technique is not to aim for style. It took me quite sometime to learn that lesson and I think many artists go through phases of looking at certain things, and that deep love and fascination ends up surfacing in the work. Once those moves and ways of working become more internalized it becomes easier to let them go. I think thats when you begin making your work, not for what it looks like on a surface level, but for what it actually is. When you respond to the paint and the many mysterious ways it lands on the surface, I think the work becomes more alive. It's becoming easier to spot a fabricated drip, or mark. One thing I've been trying over the past year or so, has been to use a material that is new in each work. That could mean priming the surface differently or using a new medium. When I do this I stay active when I work and it helps me avoid going into auto pilot.  

How do you usually start your paintings? With a sketch, a draft or is it just an improvisation? I always start with nothing, no drawing, no plan, just an empty canvas. Every decision is built of the last as I go. I used to plan the whole image before I'd even started and what I learned over time is that the work was dead before i'd even started. I do make drawings in my sketchbooks and works on paper, but these are never blue prints for a painting. I like to work from memory because it prevents me from illustrating an image. What exists in my memory has already been internalized. It is what remains of a given experience and is my own interpretation of that situation. Though it may be far from the exact reality of what was once there, it is most truthful for me and what I understand of it.

What are your motivation forces? And the artists who have been and are an influence for you? The most motivating thing for me when it comes to art making, is the feeling of total awe and energy I get when I see brilliant work. It's that feeling when you go to a show or a museum and something about what you see just explodes your sense of possibility. It's almost impossible, that given so many stops so many ways in which these things couldn't possibly come to be, here they are! WOW. That out of nothing, this was made. It both amazes and encourages me.

What can you tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it? My studio is often changing. I've done a number of residencies of the past several years and am usually adapting to a new environment with each series of works I make. New environments excite me. My current studio in London I've just moved into this month and I'm very much looking forward to see how the new space with lend itself to both painting and sculpture. It's an old factory building with large windows. It can be cold, but the light is very inspiring.

What is art for you? The most important thing.

Photos by: Sam Hylton
Instagram. @emmafineman


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