Potted Monstera by Priscilla Emmerson

Virtual Bazaar featuring Priscilla Emmerson

Blue Macaw by Priscilla Emmerson
This holiday season, IIDA is celebrating all the creatives in our industry with a virtual bazaar! 

Priscilla Emmerson, the Koroseal’s Virginia Sales Manager, is also a watercolor artist! She recently launched her own webshop, where you can purchase her watercolors on canvas prints, yoga mats, pillows, puzzles, stationary, apparel, and more!

Priscilla is offering 25% off to Virtual Bazaar shoppers with the code: ETUVEC

(Code is valid until 12/14/2020)

One can also sign up to get email notifications of Priscilla’s latest pieces!

IIDA’s Director of Media, Leah Embrey, spoke to Priscilla to gain some exclusive insight into her artistic process:

Leah: Tell us how you gain your inspiration for your pieces?

Priscilla: I’m usually inspired by something I’ve seen recently; a covey of quail, a fox scurrying across the street, a duck swimming in the water. I also do pet portraits for people; it is scary because I want to capture their baby as well I can, which for me, means trying to get their little personality AND appearance right. When I do a custom piece I usually ask for 5-10 pictures so that I can see as much of their body and markings as possible, but also try see the personality of the animal and put that on paper.

Once I’ve decided on my subject matter, I usually take a bit of time to just look and research the way the animal or plant is put together and moves. So much of creating is about looking and noticing. The better one observes the better one will be at recreating those little details on paper.

Sad Fox by Priscilla Emmerson
Orca by Priscilla Emmerson

Leah: What are some of the first steps in putting pen to paper? 

Priscilla: Once I’ve figured out the composition, I grab my trusty, very light gray pencil and block it in. I’m super heavy-handed, so the light gray pencil is my way of working around that. The bonus is that since it’s light in color, the watercolors usually hide or erase the pencil marks, so it ends up looking like I’m a brilliant artist who can freehand things with ease. (not true) 

Leah: Tell us about how you manipulate the watercolors to achieve your desired effects

Priscilla: Once everything is blocked in with a pencil, I grab a test sheet of paper and start mixing colors, I’ve got a few “recipes” that I use to make different colors. 

Some of my favorite recipes are:

    • Blush: Crimson + Yellow Ochre + Peach
    • Sage: Veridian + Cerulean Blue + Yellow Ochre
    • Sand: Peach + Yellow Ochre + White + a TINY bit of Payne’s Gray
    • Natural Black: Ivory Black + Payne’s Gray + Burnt Umber + Violet

I never use black or white straight out the tube; because even when something is “black” or “white” it isn’t really. For example, my dog Charlie has a black back and a white belly. But when you really look at him, the black is kind of blueish and the white is more of a very subtle cream. When I paint him, I’ll mix up some Sand but put in a LOT more white than I usually do. To mix up a black for his back, I’ll swap out the violet for ultramarine. 


Leah: How do you achieve such amazing visual texture from your subjects?

Priscilla: So much of the depth in watercolors comes from building layers. Like with most mediums you start with light and work darker, but with watercolors you have to think holistically and in layers at the same time, if you only work on one spot at a time, the water will dry in other places and not blend properly. Fortunately, watercolors can be “re-activated” just by rewetting the paper, but it also removes some of the color, so I try to avoid doing that. That same challenge is also a bonus because it’s a very forgiving medium. When I mess up, I can just take a clean, wet brush, erase and try again. Which is nice because I’m left-handed and regularly drag my hand or sleeve through my paintings.

Chilly Duck by Priscilla Emmerson
Quagga Watercolor by Priscilla Emmerson

I think the main thing people need to remember about watercolors is that it’s literally water with some pigment suspended in it. It’s like a very controlled spill; with practice, you can learn to control the water and use its fluidity to your advantage, but at the end of the day, you’re still going to have some surprises. So, it’s important that you go in with an open mind and know that you can’t command every aspect of the process. 

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