Getting to Know Local Artist Emma Morrison

Brinkoetter & Associates recently entered two holiday cards into "Christmas Card Lane" downtown by ADM Center. This is a fun community art project for the holiday season hosted by the Decatur Area Arts Council. If you haven't done so already, you should go downtown and check out all of the giant Christmas cards, they're all great! This outdoor exhibit/competition is comprised of larger-than-life 'cards' created by local artists and groups based on the theme “Holiday Season Around the World.” The cards are displayed from November 26 to December 30, 2018. We asked local artist Emma Morrison to paint these cards for us and she did a phenomenal job!

Emma Morrison graduated from Millikin University in 2017 with a BFA in Studio Art and Art Education, and currently teaches K-8th grade at Dennis Lab School. Born and raised in Decatur, Emma feels a deep connection to her roots here and loves doing projects involving the community she grew up in. Although people and faces are typically her main subjects, she loves working on a large scale regardless of the subject matter. This gives her the opportunity to freely explore the work surface with energetic brush strokes and line.


How long have you been painting?


I’ve been painting for around 6 years now. I didn’t get into art until my senior year of high school when I took my first painting class. It was just something that clicked with me right away and inevitably got me interested in a career in the arts.  Now I’m lucky enough to spend every day in art class.


What are you currently working on?


With the holidays being right around the corner, I’ve mainly been working on a lot of commissions for friends and family. I haven’t had too much time to work on personal art, but that should change once Christmas is over.


Being the art teacher at Dennis Lab School, I’ve also been very busy wrapping up projects with my students, decorating concerts and dances, and the general hustle and bustle of everyday.   


What was the concept/idea behind these cards?


The idea for card #7 was inspired by Brinkoetter’s slogan, “Open the Possibilities.” Once I heard this phrase, I had lots of ideas for how to incorporate that into a holiday design. I eventually settled on a pile of presents shaped like a Christmas tree, waiting to be opened. The package at the very top is opened, and contains a Brinkoetter key. The anticipation of opening a present during the holidays and the anticipation of getting a new home and the possibilities that await paired together to create this design.




The idea for card #14 was based off of the classic Christmas song, “Home for the Holidays.” Brinkoetter provides the gift of new homes to people every day, and this is especially important during the holiday season as many look forward to spending time with friends and family. Inspired by traditional Christmas card designs, I went with a snowy landscape showcasing a cozy cottage decorated for the holidays. In the front yard, there is a Brinkoetter sold sign, showing someone’s “New Home for the Holidays.”




If someone wants to see more of your artwork, how do they do that?


My artwork can be followed by liking my Facebook Page at


What do your future projects look like, can you give us a hint?


In the future, I look forward to beautifying Dennis Lab School with my students. We’re planning on starting some murals next semester and I am very excited for that journey.




Why do you continue to paint? (What makes it interesting, etc.)


The best way I can describe why I continue to paint and create art, is due to some innate motivation I can’t ignore. When I start creating, my mind is plucked from reality and whisked away from any problems, anxiety, or stress I have going on in my life. It’s a fantastic thing that is so hard to explain, but getting into that creative flow and losing track of everything else but my art is so important to me.


I have stuck with painting specifically is because it never fails to challenge me. I appreciate that I still have so much to learn and that I will never fully understand paint. It has a mind of its own, and it’s up to me to try to control it the best I can. In part, that is what is so fascinating and exhilarating about painting. It’s also just downright fun to paint – the different varieties of washes, brush marks, and techniques one can use keeps things interesting and allows me to keep experimenting with different ways to create art, even after making hundreds of paintings.


What inspirations do you have regarding painting?


When it comes to formal painting inspirations, I have a few artists that I take inspiration from. My favorites are Chuck Close, Elly Smallwood, and Jenny Saville. The sheer scale of their artwork is awe-inspiring on its own, but their processes fascinate me and challenge me to try the same.


On top of that, I am so lucky that I get to work with the best artists every day at my job. My students inspire me more than anything else in this world. The way they see life, how they choose to create, and what they make motivates me to keep creating


What is your process when approaching a new project like this?


Since I am a portrait artist, my process looked a lot different this time around. After consulting with Brinkoetter, I started sketching all of the ideas I saw in my head surrounding the slogan and “home for the holidays” phrase. It was difficult to step out of my comfort zone and create designs surrounding phrases rather than taking a picture or interviewing a person and running with it. After the sketches were finalized, I sketched them on the pieces of wood and started painting. For #14, I took some inspiration from Bob Ross and some of his winter landscape paintings to help me get my technique down. But other than that, I painted these like I would have painted a portrait – I used washes and flipped back and forth between paint and pastels. In the end, I was happy to see that my artistic style could still show through with a different subject matter.



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