Artist Interview: Emma Knight

Posted by Jenni Kirby - December 08 2020

Escape into whimsical forests



“I just love painting trees,” says artist Emma Knight, beginning to laugh. “When my kids were little their friends called them claymation trees.”


For Knight, the main idea behind her work is escape, exploration and a little solitude. She hopes her viewers will find themselves in the painting and escape into this whimsical place.


There is no mistaking Knight’s specific artistic style. Windswept, organic shapes take place of foliage, leaving the viewer with a sense of curiosity and wonder. Though Knight has always had this specific style, she has been influenced along the way by masters such as Paul Gauguin and Georgia O’Keeffe. “My style is both random but controlled with the sharp edges. It’s not exactly what a tree looks like, but you know that’s what it is – it’s very freeing.”


Over the past few years, Knight has focused on refining her subject matter to landscapes and floral studies – “I’ve realized the floral studies help me think through my larger pieces.”  The creative process for Knight typically begins with photos and preliminary sketches and evolves from there. While Knight has created several Richmond landscapes, she has become more interested in imaginative forest scenes since the pandemic began. “I’m itching to get back to working on big pieces again. I just spent the last three days building a large stretcher and am working on a new forest.”


Though Knight has never been afraid to chart her own course, it has not been without challenges. “Early on I listened to too many opinions, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to filter through critiques and follow my own path.” Though she tends to consider herself a rule follower,  Knight says when starting a new painting she reminds herself “you’re the boss here, you can break a rule and in fact it might be good.”


For Knight, nothing is intended to end up exactly as planned. Liking to work intuitively through the process, she prefers to follow the winding paths through each forest.