Tuesday, 31 December 2013

All good things must come to an end (the bad ones just go on forever) - Daniel Bejar

Well 2013 is nearly over.

It has been an interesting year. I've had some nice commissions from lovely people in New York, which seemed to arrive at points when my confidence in my work was at its lowest ebb. I had an exhibition in Cheltenham - "Bloom" - with three dear friends and fellow Falmouth graduates (and sold a painting of Mata Hari). I created wedding portraits for my cousins. I ran an art therapy group with a friend. WeAdmire began printing my Lou Reed illustration on their t-shirts. I set up Walk Cheerfully Zine with my friend Beth and we received some beautiful illustration work (I really need to do it justice by getting it printed soon). I also started a "portrait on a postcard project" and 15 people took part in commissioning portraits - I've just turned it into a zine (you can find it here)

We lost Hebe in October. It's still impossible to talk about. Do you know what the saddest thing about losing a cat is? They don't leave anything behind. You can't find old letters from them or silly notes that they wrote to you. But that's also the most beautiful thing about our friendships with animals, they are wordless, and somehow more true.

   "The creatures stir across from us, but they cannot come to us, and the You we speak to them sticks to the threshold of language." -  I and Thou, Martin Buber (with thanks to Marty for the quote)

Actually...here he is using a typewriter:

It's just not the same without him sitting next to me while I draw. He was my constant companion. I have made so many drawings of him over the years...and a drawing is always able to transport you right back to the moment you created it. I remember vividly drawing this picture of him - he sat so still for me, and looked me in the eye the whole time - I think he knew what I was up to:

It has been a tough year in so many ways but being able to draw has been so helpful. And seeing friends over this past year has been wonderful. I'm so lucky to have such glorious people in my life. I'm so proud of all my friends and the things they create. I really am.

Anyway, here's to 2014, I hope to see more of the people I treasure, and I hope it is a better year for us all.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Winter Sketchbook

I recently got a Pentel Brush Pen and I've been using it for location drawings. It's much more expressive than the rapidograph or mapping pen, and pretty handy for creating spontaneous drawings while out and about.

My brother Sean

People in a café

A very bad drawing of my brother Lewis, which makes us both giggle

Scarf on an office chair

A pot of tea

Friday, 8 November 2013

Vaslav Nijinsky

Just a couple of drawings I did of Nijinsky for my own amusement, straight from photographs of him.
I've been reading about his life, which the ballet critic Richard Buckle once described as: 
"ten years of growth, ten years of learning, ten years of dancing, thirty years of darkness."

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Lou Reed

When I was little, Transformer was our staple record for long car journeys (along with David Bowie's Hunky Dory) - me and my brother's knew it off by heart, back to front, upside down, and never, ever grew tired of it. Our toy monkey's sang along to "Make-up" through many a rain-swept voyage into darkest Wales, delighted to come out of their closets, bom-bom-bom-bom bombombom.

Later, when I was 17, clumsy and shy, somehow sent floundering after the death of my grandmother and my first visit to New York (one freezing February, central park pristine with snow and bare trees), I listened to a cassette of Lou Reed's New York album on repeat, kept afloat amid a sea of the mean-seventeens (possibly not helped by reading Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted in quick succession).

My portrait of Lou Reed is now available printed on t-shirts at WeAdmire. 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Process pics

A few months back I completed a painting for a client in New York who commissioned a portrait reflecting the style of classical Hollywood.

I really loved working on it - it taught me to plan out my images beforehand, because I have always been someone who draws straight off in pen and ink without any kind of pencil guide, and I always felt like drawing in pencil first was somehow cheating (thanks, Aubrey Beardsley).

But actually, the longer the process of making something, the more room for discoveries to be made, and it's often where the best ideas regarding colour and composition have chance to step in.

Lately my process is: detailed light pencil sketch (focusing on areas of colour) > then watercolour > then add ink lines (sparingly). 

If I draw in ink before I watercolour the tendency arises to stay too strictly within the lines, and the colours can't interact as much. There is still plenty of room for improvement - I always feel that I could paint much more loosely than I do - but it's all part of the learning process.


first sketches


pencil and watercolour

watercolour, gouache + pen and ink

final piece


James Joyce & Charlie Parker

James Joyce
Charlie Parker

Friday, 19 July 2013

Portraits on Postcards

Edgar Allan Poe - SOLD
Billie Holiday - SOLD
Etta James - SOLD
Vivian Maier - SOLD

All postcards commissioned through my Portrait on a Postcard Project: http://bit.ly/18W3oTm

Monday, 17 June 2013

Portrait-on-a-Postcard Project

Are you interested in owning one of my original artworks? 
Or would you like to commission an artwork as a gift for a friend?

   For a limited time, 
I am now running a portrait-on-a-postcard project

Inked, painted and posted, for just £10 
(& will post to anywhere in the world at no extra cost)

The theme of the project is "I admire..."

I often make portraits of the people who interest me 
(such as Bob Dylan, pictured) but I'm also interested 
in discovering who other people admire, and why.

The subject can be anyone throughout history - musicians, 
poets, writers, filmmakers, playwrights, scientists, engineers, 
philosophers, artists, designers, actors, activists, comedians, 
journalists, soldiers, saints, politicians, revolutionaries, composers, explorers...anyone. 

As long as you admire them.

The original artwork will be posted to you (on Daler-Rowney Langton cold pressed 300gsm acid-free watercolour paper) and all of the portraits will be collected together on a blog.

If you're interested in taking part, email me at emma.ridgway@live.co.uk with the following details:

Your name:

Who do you admire?

What do you particularly admire about them?

Address you'd like the postcard to be sent to:


Finished postcards will be sent out on receipt of payment of £10 via Paypal.

If you have any questions, please get in touch via email.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Billy Bragg

Dan and I went to see Billy Bragg a couple of years ago - we waited in the snow, but it was worth it - his gigs are full of such warmth and humour, and he's easily one of the most likable musicians. 
I've been meaning to do a portrait of him for ages, so here it is.

Monday, 13 May 2013

A Mother's Day card made back in March 
(my Mum has two guinea-pigs who she adores)

A little watercolour sketch of my brother, Lewis, drawn this morning in a coffee shop.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Were most of your stars out?

These are two new pieces which I made for Bloom at the Garden's Gallery in Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham. The exhibition features work by fellow Falmouth graduates Sophia Bloxham, Lucy Boden and Liz Clayton, as well as our talented friend Katie Thomas, and runs until Tuesday 14th May.

I decided to get away from using the computer to colour my illustrations, and it made me realise how much happiness I get from painting and collaging. There is something about making things with your hands, and discovering through making, which a computer cannot replace. I have a box of collage materials dating back to my first year at Falmouth - different types of paper, sheets painted in acrylic, bits and pieces collected in terms of colour - and it was nice to let the materials shape the direction of the work. 

I have a few of the instruments pictured - the banjo, ukulele, melodica, glockenspiel and autoharp - although I would never consider myself a musician - I have a very talented brother who plays guitar beautifully - but I like to make music in a very amateur sense, for my own amusement.

The typewriter illustration is based on a quote by J.D. Salinger from one of my favourite books, Seymour, an Introduction
The quote comes from a letter that Seymour writes to his younger brother Buddy:

"When was writing ever your profession? It’s never been anything but your religion. Never. I’m a little over-excited now. Since it is your religion, do you know what you will be asked when you die? But let me tell you first what you won’t be asked. You won’t be asked if you were working on a wonderful, moving piece of writing when you died. You won’t be asked if it was long or short, sad or funny, published or unpublished. You won’t be asked if you were in good or bad form while you were working on it. You won’t even be asked if it was the one piece of writing you would have been working on if you had known your time would be up when it was finished…I’m so sure you’ll get asked only two questions. Were most of your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out? If only you knew how easy it would be for you to say yes to both questions. If only you’d remember before ever you sit down to write that you’ve been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart’s choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won’t even underline that. It’s too important to be underlined. Oh, dare to do it, Buddy! Trust your heart."

Friday, 26 April 2013


I'm exhibiting my work in "Bloom" - an exhibition at the Montpellier Gardens in Cheltenham next month, along with some good friends of mine and fellow Falmouth graduates.

[Drawing typewriters in preparation for the exhibition]

Walk Cheerfully

Fellow Falmouth-grad illustrator Beth Hague and I are putting together a zine with the theme of "Walk Cheerfully" - the brief is to illustrate a quote/motto/lyric/saying that gets you through the difficult times or cheers you up / makes you laugh.

It can be philosophical and profound or very silly and cheeky or rather dark.

We will be collecting the images online, with the hope of creating a printed zine of the best work at the end of the project.

It is open-submission and any artists / illustrators are welcome to take part.


Dimensions: 210mm x 297mm, 300dpi,
Can work portrait or landscape,
Somewhere in the image you must include your quote/motto/saying in hand-rendered or typed text

E-mail entries as a jpeg to: walkcheerfullyzine@gmail.com

(To submit by post, please contact me for address)

When submitting your illustration, please also include details of any web-links to your portfolio.

Deadline: 30th June