Meet Denver Painter Emily Dwan

Artist Emily Dwan got a call from the mountains to come saturate Colorado with color.

Emily Dwan standing in front of two of her paintings
Photo by Kate Rolston.

A professional visual artist, Emily Dwan traded Chicago’s cityscapes for Colorado’s mountain scenes when she moved from Illinois to Denver in 2011, and her art followed suit. Instead of street art and architecture, wildflowers and landscapes became her subjects. Uniting her work is the visual punch she packs through bold colors and vibrant hues.

What inspires your paintings?
I moved to Denver because, as they say, the mountains were calling. I have a lifelong passion for painting and when I was a little girl, my grandmother would take me to the Art Institute and I would stare at Monet’s paintings for hours. My art is influenced by impressionism but with a modern, psychedelic flare that I call electro-impressionism. I like to use abstractive colors and broken brushstrokes to slightly distort the image to convey that magical feeling I get every time I look at a mountain view.

Can you tell me more about how impressionism influences your work?
Impressionism, to me, is more than just a painting style. I like to paint with jazz music in the background because it helps fuel that sporadic process I associate with impressionism. I also make mosaics out of my collection of funky found objects that give things like a broken guitar a second life. I am currently working on a mosaic over a pair of antique wooden skis that uses all those bold colors that make Colorado pop. And my most recent commissioned painting of the mesa in Golden is based on Monet’s color study in his series Haystacks.

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Can you describe your process?
I like to start with a clear idea of the painting. Sometimes that is a detailed sketch, but often, if I am trying to replicate something specific, like downtown Telluride, I use photographs to guide the painting. With a solid plan, paintings take a day or two. I mostly use acrylic paint because I love the layering and quick dry time. I have a background in color theory so I like to play with contrasting hues and the emotions it can omit by putting something like a bright purple cloud against a yellow sky.

Where can people see or buy your art?
My website is the best place to buy my art. I like to make it accessible by offering prints at various price points but I also do originals and custom commissions. I just finished a commission for a couple in Telluride that wanted to hide themselves in the crowd of the painting, which I thought was so fun. I meet lots of my clients at the art festivals I attend in the summer, and you can sign up for my newsletter to learn where to find me in person this coming season.