Connecting you with the people of Scotland by sharing their stories
Jemma Craig is an abstract painter based in Edinburgh. From a hobby to making bespoke art to match clients’ homes, we spoke to Jemma about her creative process and being inspired by Scottish landscapes.
Hi Jemma, please introduce yourself and your work to our readers?
Hello! Thanks for inviting me to share my work with your community. My name is Jemma Craig and I’m an abstract painter based in Edinburgh. I create bespoke, original paintings to match your home’s interior design scheme. I invite my clients to choose colours and dimensions, but the gesture is entirely my own. In addition to my commissioned work, I have a selection of paintings that are available to buy on my website.
Can you tell us how painting became more than a hobby for you?
I painted so much in the pandemic (more than any other time in my life) so that was the push I needed to share my work with the world. It still feels surreal that what was such an intimate hobby of mine is now public.
I’ve always surrounded myself with art so that motivated me to start painting in the first place. A few years ago, I was searching for a huge painting for my living room. I knew the scale I needed and the colours I wanted, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for — so I made my own. Encouraged by all of the positive feedback I received from friends and family, I figured other interior enthusiasts would relish the opportunity to create a painting that matches their home’s interior design scheme.
Talk us through your process — how does the paint come onto the page?
I begin by creating a colour palette for each artwork, but that’s where the planning stops. When I paint, I’m so in-the-moment that it’s hard to even describe it. I pour, splat and dab paint across the canvas, allowing the paint itself to form enchanting textures with minimal manipulation from me. I’m inspired by everything — whether nature, design or fashion.
We’re curious — why household paint?
I’ve always painted with household paint because of the array of reliable, ready-mixed shades that are available. The consistency of the paint is great too. I’ve never fallen in love with any hues or tones that I’ve mixed with oils or acrylics.
Your art and its colours are often inspired by locations you’ve visited. Tell us more about the significance of that?
Colour is so transportive. When I look at ‘Purple (2020)’, I’m instantly taken to the slopes of Schiehallion, blanketed in purple heather. I painted ‘John Muir Country Park (2020)’ almost two years ago. This painting captured the moment when the forest meets the sea; all of those greens, browns and creams. Now, in the light of Storm Arwen, the forest no longer exists. Most of the trees have been uprooted. In this case, my artwork exists as a fleeting memory.
Is there a specific place in Scotland that’s special to you?
I’m not drawn to one specific place, but the type of landscapes that surround us. Scotland has so much to offer — forests, Munros, beaches, rivers. I still have so many colour palettes in my mind from last summer’s North Coast 500 (NC500) trip, particularly the area around Lochinver. My paintings are abstract renditions of these landscapes, rather than accurate representations.
You also manage a design agency. How do you make space in your schedule, not just for painting, but also for cultivating the intuition that characterises your work?
I founded Meraki Concept Studio in 2017. It’s demanded so much of me and I’m so proud of how it exists today. The pandemic taught me to separate self and business — perhaps the best lesson I’ve ever received. This refreshed perspective helped me carve time for other things in my life, of which painting is one.
For me, painting is the ultimate relaxation. I try to put paint to canvas once per week, at least. This varies depending on how many commissions I have. I spend my evenings and weekends liaising with customers and marketing various aspects of my venture.
Where do you hope your art will take you next?
I’ve already received numerous features in esteemed publications, such as Vanity Fair, House & Garden and The World of Interiors. I’d like to do more Q&As, like this, because I think it’s a great way to authentically communicate my style and process. I participated in my first group show in Madrid at the beginning of the year — here’s hoping that 2022 will bring my first solo show!
What are some things in your workspace that you can’t live without?
I still paint at my dining table (although not for much longer, hopefully). The 3 things I can’t live without are:
1. My palette knife. It’s ideal for creating all kinds of textures.
2. A handleless roller. I love this for adding base colours and/or blurring textures that I’ve already created.
3. A playlist. Music gets me through!