Emma Cownie was born in Hereford to a Welsh mother and English father and has lived in several different English and Welsh towns and cities during her life. She studied for a degree and doctorate in Medieval History at Cardiff University in the 1980s and 1990s. She has lived and worked in Swansea since 1998.
Emma has always been creative, whether it was drawing and sketching as a teenager, drawing with oil pastels and screen print-making in her 20s and or focusing on photography and oil painting in her adult life.
Things took a dramatic changed for Emma in 2012. On 29th February, she was involved in a car accident which led to her developing PTSD. She also suffered burn-out from over a decade in a very stressful job. Emma says, "The wheels came off the trolley, as they say. I was stunned to find myself falling apart in a very disconcerting way. I could not work. It took a long time to recover. In fact, it took a year to return to my job, and that was only in a part-time role. It was incredibly tough."
For Emma, a crucial part of that recovery process was painting. In the first 6 months of her illness, she could do nothing. She says "I tried to keep busy but I could hardly make it to the shops. I was overwhelmed with exhaustion. The world terrified me." During the course of that year, Emma saw two therapists who used EMDR therapy. This was a turning point for her. Late August 2012, she picked up her paintbrush and started painting and painting; every day, all day, day-in-day out. She hasn't really stopped since.
Emma has been a professional artist since 2013, full-time since 2016. Her work focuses on light and colour; whether it is a landscape, a streetscape, in her poignant people portraits or amusing animal paintings. She is always looking for the light. Emma delights in painting ordinary people in their everyday lives. She notices the sorts of people and details that others miss. She paints moods, anticipations, and atmospheres; creating presence and pathos.