Get to know Emily Jeffords, our March Teafluencer. Emily is an abstract impressionistic painter, creative educator and writer living in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband, two little girls and baby boy. When she isn’t with her family, Emily can be found painting, writing and teaching in a historic 1890's light-filled mill house called White Whale Studios. Read on to learn about Emily, her career and the resources she offers to help others around the world grow as artists.
Harney: Tell us a little about you. When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
Emily: I have always been creative, though as a child and young adult my main focus was music. I loved creating emotion and storytelling through my instruments, but felt so uncomfortable performing. In high school, I took a painting course and something new unlocked within my mind. The idea that people could make a living creating images and telling stories through pigment of oil was so exciting to me. I went to art school, graduated, had a baby and, while she napped, I began my studio practice in earnest, selling a painting a day for the first several months of her life.
Harney: Where do you find the passion for art, teaching and writing? What or who inspires you?
Emily: In my work, I am deeply inspired by belonging, the earth, our connectedness and the peace we can find in this beautiful world. In my career, which includes a lot of education and leading retreats and workshops, I am so deeply inspired by beauty and its effect on open-hearted people. The most magical things is watching someone transform and stand strong in their own brilliance — because of beauty.
Harney: How has your career developed over time?
Emily: I began my painting career 10 years ago. I was experimenting and finding myself along the way, trying mediums and styles, settling into the artist I am today slowly and steadily. Currently, my studio practice is a bit of a blend of original paintings, fine art reproductions, licensing collaborations with select companies, education and some affiliate/sponsored marketing. What a time to be alive!
Harney: How did you get involved with teaching online courses and what do you enjoy about teaching? What courses or retreats are you currently offering?
Emily: Welcoming people into my studio, or retreat experience or online course feels like one of the most generous things I can do. It is also one of the most enjoyable parts of my career! I began teaching right out of college: I taught school children the basics of painting and drawing. In 2014, I began offering workshops in my studio which developed into retreats, which evolved into glorious week-long retreats in France and Spain, and now online courses for creative entrepreneurs!
I am currently offering one retreat (in Spain!) as well as a 12-week fully immersive course, called Making Art Work, focused on the business of art and creativity.
Harney: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career? And on the flipside, what are some of your favorite pieces of work or biggest career accomplishments?
Emily: The biggest challenge is also one of the biggest rewards (and things I'm most proud of): the constant stretching towards growth and progress. The seeking and process of evolving is the thing that keeps my creativity alive and my inspiration engaged. Burnout is something we talk about a lot in the creative community because it is so detrimental to our career and work, and each Creative has to find their own balance to avoid it. I often tell myself and others, "Progress is quiet and slow" because this is the key; a gentle, constant, ever-evolving movement towards progress, inspiration and better work.
Harney: What is some advice you have for someone interested in turning their passion for art into a business?
Emily: Enjoy all of it. You are setting out on the most joyous and beautiful career you can imagine. Allow that energy and joy to carry you through the hard moments. Do it for the process because the process will sustain you when it becomes challenging and lonely and too quiet. If you are just beginning to establish yourself as an artist or creative, learn to speak about your work honestly and with admiration. Share your journey as you feel comfortable doing so, but know that your audience wants to support and cheer for you. So allow them to do just that!
Harney: What are some of your favorite pieces currently in your shop?
Emily: I have two dear favorite pieces of artwork in my shop right now: one is an original painting that I honestly cannot believe is still available I adore it SO MUCH. "Brave New Season", a botanical oil painting on paper and "Place of Magic" a fine art reproduction inspired by Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. Both pieces were created soon after the birth of my son and hold a lot of personal growth.
Harney: When you aren’t creating art, where can we find you? What do you like to do in your free time?
Emily: We bought a baby grand piano a few months ago so I am finally returning to my love of music. I also love cooking. I've often thought that if I weren't an artist I might be a chef or a recipe developer. Perhaps in a second life.
Harney: Are you a tea lover? Does tea influence your work?
Emily: I am the daughter of a tea lover and her passion for tea has inspired my love for tea as well! I'm a "night owl" and love working at night after my three children are tucked away. Tea is my companion. A warm and slightly sweet rooibos or a fruity blend to keep me energized. Tea has also made its way INTO my artwork! I've created paint washes with tea and dyed fabric with tea. Such a fun, experimental process.
Harney: Do you have any favorite flavors or types of Harney & Sons tea or anything you’ve been wanting to try?
Emily: I am nearly addicted to Paris tea. It's so warm and cozy and pairs elegantly with honey. Along with that, the Goji Berry Fruit tea, Vanilla Comoro and Chai are in constant rotation.
Emily, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us! To learn more about Emily, her passions, her career or to see her work, head to emilyjeffords.com or follow her on Instagram or Pinterest. All photography has been provided by Emily.