southern creatives: Emily Morgan Brown

southern creatives: emily morgan brown

I couldn't be more excited to introduce today's featured Southern Creative. Emily Brown is not only an amazing talent but she is also one of the most kind people you could know. As soon as you meet her, you can't wait to sit down and talk over a cup of coffee. I find myself so drawn to how real and compassionate she is in BOTH LIFE AND ART.. her joy is contagious! She lives in Birmingham with her husband and three precious daughters. And if you're not following her on instagram, you should be! She shares the funniest and most adorable pictures from her everyday life as well as images of her amazing work. She is one to know! Enjoy the images and answers below!  

also make sure to visit her NEW website to learn more!

tell us a little bit of your background. when did you realize that you wanted to be an artist? i really can’t remember a time when art wasn’t a huge part of my life. i’ve always wanted to be an artist—even when all of the other children wanted to be firefighters and astronauts. but i clearly remember the moment i decided to be a portrait artist. my mom had just commissioned my younger brother’s portrait, and i was in awe! i started practicing portraiture by copying the faces i found in a kevyn aucoin makeup book i was given for my twelfth birthday. i sketched the numerous teachers and pastors in my life when i should have been paying attention. i have always had a deep fascination with expressions, and it is so amazing to me that since adam and eve, god hasn’t created two faces that are the same—how crazy is that? 

i enrolled in a college-credit art class in high school; there, i exploredfaces and expressions as my concentration. then i went on to earn a bfa in graphic design from auburn university. in so many ways, the design education i received from auburn has been invaluable to me as an artist, and the year i spent at an advertising agency was a great learning experience for how to promote my work.


what are your favorite mediums to work with?  charcoal—hands down. i love the way it slides onto the paper. it is easy to apply and easy to lift off—although it’s two-dimensional, it feels like sculpting . . . the adding and taking away to reveal the subject

Where do you turn for inspiration?   Of course I am always inspired by the new faces I am commissioned to reproduce. It is a great joy to be trusted with such an important family heirloom, and I never lose sight of that. It is fun to imagine where the portraits I create will hang not only next month but also fifty years from now.    Beyond my day-to-day employment, I am constantly researching other artists, architects, and designers. Process and interesting color combinations always inspire me, and lately textiles have really captured my interest and imagination. 


What are your goals for the future of your art? Oh, I have many! First and foremost, I want to improve with every portrait I complete and in the end have a customer whose expectations have been wildly surpassed. My goal is to have clients who not only are thrilled with the result but also enjoying the process. I am looking forward to increasing the visual reach of my artwork through both social media and collaborations with other artists as well as publications and blogs.


Advice for others who are pursuing a career in art? It is so important to just create. Put yourself out there, and do it now. Art is such a personal thing that being vulnerable and receiving criticism is difficult, of course, but it will only get harder as you wait to improve. Putting yourself out there is the only way you will truly grow. Also, find a mentor. An artist who has a longer or richer history of creating and selling art will be able to share invaluable advice and experiences with you. 


How do you balance your creative passions and raising a family/home life?  I wish I had a good answer for this—that balance is so tricky! I am fortunate to have a job where I can control the amount and speed of the work I take on. I have three small girls at home: twins who just turned three,  and their baby sister, who is almost one and a half. At this point in my life, my time at the studio is very valuable. Currently, I work two or three full days per week. That ratio is working really well for us right now, but I’m sure it will ebb and flow with the stages of life my family and my career will go through. 


Does being from the south have an influence on your artwork?  It does! While portraiture is hardly an art defined by a time period or a region, it has a noticeable presence in the south. It is really fun to see how portraiture in the south has evolved from heavy oil paintings paired with ornate, dark-wood furniture and heavy drapery to a lighter, more airy and less fussy depiction of a loved one—whichgoes hand in hand with contemporary southern interiors.


how do your family and/or friends play a roll in your art?  my family is extremely encouraging. i wish i could count the number of times my sister and my mother have helped me to identify what seemed “off” asa portrait neared completion but still needed finessing. and i have drawn my sister more times than i remember. actually, i’m just about to take photos of her for another portrait i have planned to hang in gallery 1930 in a few months. 


describe your personal style.  currently and realistically, i would describe my style as very practical. taking care of small children and working by myself, i am usually in tennis shoes and a bun, and our home is decorated with slipcovered (washable!) furniture. but if you are looking at my pinterest boards, it’s a totally different story! i am drawn to neutral, casual clothing with lots of jewelry, and i love midcentury, modern interiors with a free spirited vibe. 


tea or coffee? flats or heels? dogs or cats? breakfast or dinner?  coffee—but only in the morning or i'll be up all night long. flats—i’m so thankful for the sneaker trend right now. dogs, of course, and dinner—no question. 


favorite vacation spot?  high hampton inn in cashiers, north carolina. i grew up vacationing there with my extended family, and jeremy and i were married there in 2010. it is a very special and beautiful place for me to unwind. there are no tvs and there is no cell service, so it is not for the faint of heart! 


be honest! what is in your purse?   my wallet, my phone, a sketchpad, a bunch of old receipts, a utility knife, a kneaded eraser, an emergency diaper, a protein bar, carmex, kuumba made “persian garden” fragrance oil, and way too many pens and pencils.