City Lit Blog

Q&A with City Lit Fine Art student, Emma Taylor

Story added 19th Jun 2017

Emma Taylor, City Lit Fine Art student, and her final project - 'I Paint My Face'

With this year’s City Lit Fine Art diploma drawing to a close, we took some time to catch up with Emma Taylor, one of the students exhibiting work at this year’s City Lit Fine Art Exhibition, to find out more about her experiences on the course. The exhibition is taking place at the Espacio Gallery on Bethnal Green Road, from 18-23 July 2017.

What inspired you to sign up on the Fine Art course at City Lit?

I had completed multiple short art courses (e.g. one week) in areas such as portraiture, life painting, life drawing, drawing and collage at City Lit which I enjoyed.

However I wanted to complete a longer course, which allowed me to develop my artistic practice in more depth and with more freedom. I paint and I wanted to develop my painting practice with subject experts over a longer period of time.

What was your background prior to signing up to your course at City Lit?

I completed A Level Art at school during which I discovered I loved oil painting, focusing specifically on the figure. However I chose to study Psychology at university and subsequently became a Psychology teacher at an inner city academy. However after 10 years away from art, it seemed the right time to get back to the canvas!

I Paint My Face, by Emma Taylor

Work by Emma Taylor, City Lit Fine Art student

Have you always had a passion for fine art, or is it something that has developed more recently?

Yes, my mum was an art teacher so she readily encouraged me to draw and paint from a young age. I did very well at art at school. I have always loved observational drawing and painting.

Ahead of the City Lit Fine Art exhibition, can you tell us a little more about your final project and the influences behind it?

My final project is called ‘I Paint My Face’ and it is about the daily ritual of make-up application. I am interested in the use of make-up to mask and develop self-identity. I am also interested in how the transformative ritual of make-up application occurs on a daily basis in front of the mirror.

In parallel, I paint most days on the canvas and I use my paintbrush to express how I feel. My work consists of a series of self-portraits of myself applying make-up. In some paintings I have focused on foundation as it forms an important part of my facial mask. In each painting I am applying progressively more foundation. The viewer is confronted with intimate self-portraits of what I see when I am painting my face; both on the canvas and in the mirror.

The final piece will consist of multiple self-portraits which demonstrate the push and pull of oil paint and make-up. They will be presented alongside a mirror so the viewer is encouraged to examine their own face alongside the intimate examination of my daily make-up ritual.

How has the course transformed your approach to your work? Has it helped you with mapping out your future goals in any way?

The course has helped me develop my confidence as a contemporary fine artist. It gave me the opportunity to trial a range of artistic techniques such as wooden sculpture, animation, still life drawing and painting. However, more importantly it has helped me develop self-belief in my ideas as an artist.

Prior to starting the course I enjoyed painting. However, I lacked a clear idea about what I wanted to paint. The course has encouraged me to scrutinise and critique my ideas and my artistic methods; this has in turn given me the skills to work independently. Class discussion and feedback from the teachers on the course has helped me develop self-efficacy as a contemporary fine artist. I now have the confidence to focus on my own ideas, to analyse them and to trial different artistic methods to communicate them.

I Paint My Face, by Emma Taylor

Work by Emma Taylor, City Lit Fine Art student

What is the dynamic like on the Fine Art course?

The teachers are excellent in their direction, support and subject knowledge. They are encouraging and have enabled me to feel supported in my own idea development.

In addition, we are a group of likeminded contemporary artists and we have learnt from each other. Some of the best learning I did on the course was from peer assessment of each other’s work. This process gave me the skills to look at my own work through another person’s eyes. It also changed my perception of the work of famous artists! I recently went to the Tate Britain and looked at an Auerbach, which made me think of one of Tony’s sentences (Tony is a tutor on the course) - ‘What more could he do?’.

What’s the best thing about studying at City Lit?

The subject knowledge and expertise of the teachers on the fine art course. They have enabled me to make excellent progress in my painting and to develop my Fine Art contemporary practice. It is also a supportive environment with likeminded individuals who you can learn from. It is a free space, which is encouraging and enables all to make progress.

Finally, we should ask... have you got any exciting plans going forward?

Yes! I am looking forward to starting a new painting project on the identity of culturally diverse neighbourhoods in London such as Chinatown in Soho. I am interested in the juxtaposition of tradition and modern culture. I am looking forward to undertaking research, planning and a series of paintings. I would like to complete another exhibition next year.

I Paint My Face, by Emma Taylor

Work by Emma Taylor, City Lit Fine Art student

Interested in enrolling on one of our 2017-2018 fine art courses? Email visualarts@citylit.ac.uk  or call 020 7492 2700/2703 to find out more about how you can join the latest courses, starting in September 2017.