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Emily Proud, Watercolorist


Emily Proud, Watercolorist

City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Watercolor, Arts




I clearly remember when I asked Emily at our Passion Workshop, "what was the question the universe was answering when she was born?" She lit up and responded with a big, confident smile: Watercolor. I knew then that Emily is not just an artist -  she is a muse. We spent a sunny afternoon at Emily's rustic and stylish studio in the Mission. We could see her passion as soon as we stepped in her studio. Emily brings out beauty and life in her subjects: she magically transforms everyday objects including kitchen tools, food and flowers into vibrant, lively creations. We tried to capture as much of Emily's dedication, colorfulness and bright smile in our story.



On Passion  


The moment I fell in love with watercolor, is when I took my first watercolor class in third grade after school and learned how to paint sunflowers; I was completely obsessed with painting them after that.
My mom tells me I used to introduce myself to strangers as an artist when I was little, so I decided early on that it was my identity. It took longer to be sure that it was a career I was going to pursue to make a living.

On Mastery


As a child, I painted consistently and effortlessly but it took work and practice to keep doing it when I had other jobs.
Today, I paint or draw or plan for a painting in some way almost every day. Painting is like a muscle that you’ve gotta keep flexing.

On Transition

I was working in development for an art museum full-time while painting and showing on the side. Shortly after, I took a job that turned out not to be a good fit, which ended up being a blessing in disguise: I left it and began focusing fully on my artwork!

On Fear of Failure


I deal with failure every day! I’m so critical of myself and my work. My trick is not to get very attached to my paintings. For clients, I will make multiple versions of illustrations until it feels right.
I have two big fears: not being able to pay the rent and becoming mediocre - I overcome fears with painting. I know it will take a lot of time to get to where I want to with my work, and I’m okay with that now - I’ve learned to see the importance, and the fun, in all the little “aha” moments along the way.

On Money

I used to spend a lot of money on clothes. Now I barely do. At first, it was an adjustment, but it taught me to love what I have.

On Self-Love

I like to take walks around my neighborhood. Every week, I go to the farmer’s market down the street and I go climbing with my boyfriend. These rituals are important parts of maintaining my health and sanity.

On Inspiration

I am inspired by my peers and mentors because their stories are most relatable.

On Support

I am lucky to have two incredible mentors: the illustrator Lisa Congdon and the mastermind behind Yellow Owl Workshop, Christine Schmidt, both of whom I’ve worked for. They are amazing artists and wonderful people who have helped me so much.

Advice to the Community

Go with your gut. The world is a big place and there is a need somewhere for every passion. Also, the Internet is amazing and I owe much of my accomplishments to it. So get out there!