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Emma Skurnick

Emma SkurnickI spend a lot of time observing the beauty and strangeness of the natural world here in central North Carolina, and I know that my paintings - mere snapshots in time - can never do justice to the intricacy I see around me. The pleasure I derive from spending the hours, days, and weeks it takes to study my portrait subjects however - noting the delicate fuzz on the underside of a leaf, or the way color shifts along the length of a bird’s feather - is reward in itself. The finished artwork feels like an artifact: testament to the time I have spent, and of the awe I feel, for each subject of each painting.

I was always that kid in the back of the classroom drawing horses and dragons on the covers of her notebooks, and not scoring too high on the quizzes. I was fascinated by my science classes, but the teachers gently told me not to plan on a career in the field – between the disorganization of my lab notes and the doodles in the margins of my homework, they thought that a less rigidly organized field of study might better suit my strengths. I turned my attention to the art studio, and I have never really left. I got my undergraduate Degree in Sculpture and Drawing at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and found a graduate program in Science Illustration at U.C Santa Cruz.

What a joy to arrive at my first day of class in the Science Illustration program and discover ten other students just like myself – half were people who loved science but had ended up in the art studio, the other half were scientists who had always wished they could draw. In that classroom, we melded our strengths to achieve the best balance – one that stood on a line between the miracle of scientific understanding, and the beauty of fine artwork. That is a goal I continue to pursue to this day.

My hope is to have viewers of my paintings share a bit of the joy and pleasure I take in discovering new things about the natural world. By making modest animals large - by painting a toad or songbird three feet tall - perhaps I can startle people into appreciating the world we tend to pass by. By isolating the fox or the lily against a simple white background, perhaps I can allow us to see some of what we miss as we speed along. And by granting these creatures a bit of personality and humor, maybe I can convince a viewer to slow down and consider the beings with whom we share our space.

To learn more about Emma Skurnick’s artwork, visit www.emmaskurnick.com/