Woman finds therapy and success in art after PTSD diagnosis
A woman based in Swansea who took up art full time as a form of therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has now been able to build a gallery and studio off the back of online sales of her work.
Emma Cownie was involved in a car crash in 2012 which left her with PTSD. Although she had been painting all of her life, the incident changed her artistic style and became an important part of her recovery.
In 2013 she joined Artfinder, a company that sells artwork from independent artists and galleries online.
Emma has since sold 270 artworks on the site and has recently completed work on a purpose built studio and gallery beside her home in Brynmil with the money raised from sales.
The art viewing space, called The Back Lane Gallery, will be hosting two exhibitions per year - the first of which opens on the 1st January 2016.
I started selling art professionally in 2012, after a car crash left me with PTSD. I have painted all of my life, but after the crash my style changed dramatically - it became much more expressionistic. Painting helped me through that very tough time and is still therapeutic. I have now sold paintings to countries all over the world including Australia, the USA, Canada, Malta, Belgium, the Netherlands and all over the UK. If I can use that success to create a viewing space that will further enable me to connect with art lovers in my local area and hopefully add to the already excellent, exciting artistic community of Swansea, as well as act as my own studio, then I feel I'm putting that money to good use.
– EMMA COWNIE, ARTIST
Emma also has a couple of exhibitions around Swansea on 4-6 December and 10-12 December, before her own gallery opens.
The trauma caused by a car crash inspired this Swansea teacher to paint. Now she's sold hundreds of paintings worldwide
When history teacher Emma Cownie was involved in a road accident in 2012, it left her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and unable to work.
As therapy the Swansea -based academic, who had taught herself to paint years before, took up her art full time.
The scar the accident left on her soul manifested in what she describes as ‘completely new ways of painting’, techniques which until then she had never explored.
Now Emma, who has a PhD in Medieval History and who was a head of the history department at Olchfa School in Swansea, is the best selling artist on the online art marketplace, Artfinder.
The overwhelming success has helped finance the building of her own art gallery and studio beside her home in Brynmill.
“I started selling art professionally in 2012, after a car crash left me with PTSD. I have painted all of my life, but after the crash my style changed dramatically – it became much more expressionistic.
“Painting helped me through that very tough time and is still therapeutic. It was shortly after this that I joined Artfinder. The site was in the early stages of its development then and I had sales success pretty much immediately.
“It felt so liberating to learn that I could sell my work online, and that there is a global audience for it. I would say it definitely empowered me to keep going as a professional artist.”
Emma’s husband and agent Seamas Johnston said the car accident had prompted PTSD.
He said: “Prior to that she had seen her dog killed, and together I think the two incidents caused a delayed reaction,” said Seamas.
“She was head of department, working full time, but after the accident it was too much for her and she took a long period of time off.”
Having visited a counsellor and then sought private psychotherapy, Emma has still not returned to full health.
'A need to paint'
“Emma still has restricted energy levels and that’s the reason she now only teaches three days per week. While she was off, things weren’t good for her emotionally and mentally. As form of therapy she began painting but it was in a much different style and it began to pour out of her. It was as if she needed to paint. I became much more interested and wanted to help sell the paintings.”
Seamas put Emma’s work on the Artfinder website, when it had just started up.
“We sold a few paintings straight away and have since sold an average of two paintings per week since. We’ve sold around 400 in total.”
Emma’s work has been bought all over the world including Australia, the USA, Canada, Malta, Belgium, the Netherlands and all over the UK.
Her new studio space, built by Seamas, is called The Back Lane Gallery, and the artist will be hosting two exhibitions from here each year, the first of which will open on January 1.
Emma has sold 270 artworks on the Artfinder site since being one of its earliest joining artists in May 2013.
Much of Emma’s income from sales on Artfinder have made the building of this art viewing space possible.
Emma views this as a continuation of Artfinder’s influence in supporting independent artists to connect with art lovers in their local communities, as well as globally.
“If I can use that success to create a viewing space that will further enable me to connect with art lovers in my local area and hopefully add to the already excellent, exciting artistic community of Swansea, as well as act as my own studio, then I feel I’m putting that money to good use,” said Emma.
Making a living from art
Jonas Almgren, CEO of Artfinder said the site gives independent artists the ability to directly support themselves and to make a living from their art.
“I’m delighted that so early in the company’s growth that we have success stories such as Emma’s – and not only to hear about sales success but to hear that artists are then able to foster artistic communities within their own local areas and around the world.”
Emma’s work is being exhibited in Swansea at Steam from December 4 to 6 and at Noah’s Yard from December 10 to 12.