Category Archives: Making

Latest commission update

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the opportunity to finalise a commission on location, allowing me to respond directly to the other decor and feel of the space. I’m really pleased with the resulting paintings which both hold their own and compliment their environment.

These beauties were made using Farrow and Ball and Little Greene paints, as well as a bespoke background colour that I mixed. I really love their impact!

No Frost At Night – Babylon Arts

No Frost At Night

Fourteen-day diary project

Babylon Arts (curator Sid White-Jones)

Completed 11 – 24 April 2021 and returned to Babylon Arts, Babylon Gallery, Ely

I expressed an interest in taking part in this project and received a 14 day diary to complete through the post. I took over a week to feel comfortable starting the project. After completing it I had this to say in the notes at the end of the diary:

Diaries are embarrassing; private and personal, they are unedited.

Approaching this project, I first thought of themes on which I could write or draw that would show a developing picture over the 14 days. Instead I just started one day, after coming home from my morning walk, quickly scribbling an impression that had stayed with me.

I have resisted the urge to improve on drawings, edit words, or add subsequent commentary. The pages show a spontaneous snapshot of (imperfect) memory.

I’ve learned from this project, or remembered, the discipline of capturing impressions, of thoughts, of reflecting on what meant something.

I plan to continue with something like this format to keep notes and set myself up for the day by being receptive to playfulness, to what intrigues me, and warming up my hand to make meaningful marks.

Thank you Sid White-Jones and Babylon Arts.

I won’t be including all of the pages here – some of them are embarrassing! And I feel they belong to the project which is now out of my hands. (I have returned the diary to Babylon Arts to make of what they wish for the exhibition.) Below are the notes that I made each day. It’s interesting to me that strung together they have a certain poetry to them.


Pearly grays

Swallows soar and swoop

Stop to watch

Art can make me feel this way


Blue sky


Rainbow dew


Rust coloured catkins falling into the ouse making ripples like huge fish



Hidden treasure


Bursting bright


Shadow shapes



Dragon shaped

Fire scraps found


Midge cloud


Stunning sun





Bumbling over clouds of white stars

First butterfly sight




So long heron


Dishevelled blue tit

Sitting flitting

Blossom snow falling

Slow flow into the river

Floating faster and faster

Till bumbled down the fall


Sense of place


Negative space


Blackbird warning

‘Cat cat cat cat’

@cambridgecraftfestival 5 June 2021

I’m excited to be taking part in the innovative online Cambridge Craft Festival alongside dozens of talented makers.

As part of this I’ll be aiming to promote my signature abstract paintings incorporating emulsion paint as well as smaller abstracts on paper, drawings, prints and my collection of playful jewellery handmade with paint trapped inside delicate necklaces.

I look forward to learning a lot from my fellow makers and the fantastic organisers Camilla and Jem, both independent craft business owners based in Cambridge.

The festival will be Live on Instagram @cambridgecraftfestival and via the website

I would say I can’t wait – but I’m also looking forward to the preparation, planning and promotion throughout May before we get there!

Latest Cambridge commission

I’m excited and delighted that another commission will be making its way to it’s new home very soon. The lovely client who asked me to work on this beauty got in touch as she wanted something special for her newly refurbished kitchen diner. She was able to share with me her Farrow&Ball colour-scheme, picked the type of motif she wanted me to work on, and allowed me to take it from there. This was a joy to work on and I’m really pleased with the final result.

And here are some in-progress shots:

Wear paint

I’d been working on something different for this year’s Cambridge Open Studios at Burwash Manor to show alongside my main work – paintings that you can take with you everywhere you go.

It’s one of the things I’m most gutted about not being able to get ‘out there’ in person this July as they’ve been a while in development and I’m really pleased with the results. These delicate but quite robust little necklaces are made with my signature material, emulsion paint, trapped inside glass globes.

The process of making them (researching and testing what would work well, controlling materials while embracing their nature and some chaos with it, repetition…) learning some new techniques, and loving the outcome has been hugely enjoyable.

I hope that I’ll still find ways to share them and that they prove popular enough for me to make more!

Lockdown blues

With life turned upside down during the pandemic and lockdown, which for me includes little time to be focussing on art while our wonderful schools and nurseries are closed and my day job (which I’m delighted to be in a position to continue from home) wraps around childcare, it’s easy to feel blue. I’m trying to stay positive by taking stock of what I am able to achieve, however small, and planning what I really want to get stuck into when I get the chance.

This small piece – part painting, part sculpture/collage – was made just after lock-down was imposed. It started with an accident – the smashing of a favourite mug that reminded someone of holidays by the coast. I call it ‘breaking waves’, and hope that the coastal memories still come back to them even though it’s not much good for holding their coffee.

Emily Jolley_breaking waves_2020

UPDATE: This piece was featured in the June edition of Velvet magazine

Colour tests

Sometimes you just have to play. I’ve been testing colour combinations in preparation for a large scale commission which I’m really looking forward to working on. I love the mark making and energy in the resulting sketch.

Feb 2020 colour test

Minimalist and expressionist

When describing my practice I often say my work is in the modernist tradition and particularly influenced by abstract expressionism as well as artists that reference minimalism. Some of the approaches I’m experimenting with at the moment are allowing me to show these two influences in a playful, tactile way.

Farrow and ball ‘Pelt’ emulsion paint on torn paper

Sizes range from 25cm x 18cm to 36cm x 26cm

Testing time

I’m testing some new approaches. Smaller scales and working directly onto paper or fabrics without stretchers to encourage me to experiment more and not worry so much about ‘failures’.

I loved tearing some fantastic paper to size before starting to test a dripping technique I’ve been meaning to try for AGES that will provide a more continuous line. I’m really pleased with the results so far and look forward to doing much more of this.

20200124 testing

Studio reflections

Some challenges I’ve set myself for the new year include:

  • enjoying making the most of my (tiny!) studio space (it may be small but it’s mine)
  • seeking some tuition from my photographer friends to get better and more confident at photographing my work
  • being playful with my materials – this means not hoarding them (what am I saving them up for?!) and embracing the chance to make mistakes

One of my favourite paintings from 2019 was a result of an accident – a cracked paint tin leaving me with congealing paint – which forced me to experiment with the materials I had immediately to hand.

This pink and blue painting (congealed emulsion paint on found board) is so expressive both of its making and in showcasing its materials and their qualities… it is also VERY difficult to photograph now that it’s framed! It’s currently hanging on my studio wall to encourage, inspire and challenge me.