Emily McPhie: Beauty, Honesty, and Simplicity


Emily McPhie is a talented, inventive, and creative painter. She grew up in Utah and received a BFA with an emphasis in painting from BYU. McPhie lives with her husband and four spooky kids in Chandler, Arizona.


How would you describe yourself as an artist?

A storyteller.

A seeker of truth.

A quiet observer.

An imaginative dreamer.

An interpreter.

One who yearns for beauty, honesty and simplicity.

You once said you have “a need to decipher and a yearning to create”. I love making things and I want to make sense of the world and of my experience in it. When I create paintings I am fulfilling three needs: order, beauty, and expression. I organize an idea into an image, do my best to make it beautiful, and ultimately try to portray emotion, thought, story, and realizations. Often, I experience catharsis – as in a purging of emotions that results in renewal – when I paint that sorts out the muddle and jumble in my head. The amazing result of my inward and authentic expression is that, we being similar creatures, my work can be a light in the world. And that is pretty awesome.

What themes do you most like to explore? Do you start with an image in your mind or subject matter you want to illustrate? I’m a mother of four and that defines and consumes me. I’ve grown into this person I am through a steady tic tock of mothering my darling children and creating art. All of this woven with threads of love and faith, spirituality and devotion. I fancy myself a storyteller. I love creating art around my interpretations of existing stories and stories of my own that identify strengths and weaknesses, or recognize emotions that are so so deep down that they can’t be grabbed and brought into the light, or that celebrate humanity and the sorrow and the joy to be had in this existence. I’d like to go about my business with a pair of parabolic lenses, learning truth and moral lessons as the days roll by.

My images usually come from an idea, a crazy brain dump in words on a page of my sketchbook, or after rolling around in my head for a while. I that case, I sketch, take pictures, gather images and patterns and puzzle a piece together. Sometimes things happen in reverse, I’ll have a picture jump out at me and it will morph into a painting with the meaning emerging out of the image. The start is my favorite part, dreaming up a composition and watching it take form as I play around with it.

How has your style evolved over the years? The maturity that comes with experience upon experience as life whirls by has given me and my art new depth. It’s a beautiful gift that has me looking forward to what will unfold in the future.

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