Emma-Leone Palmer

Born: Guildford (1981)
Lives and works: Surrey
Education: University of the Creative Arts
Awards: London Contemporary Art Prize (2017)
Exhibitions: ÉKSTASIS (2022), LUX (2021), Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year (2017), The Wallace Collection (2017)
“I am alive, and I want to paint paintings that make me feel alive. I’m going to be colourful, bold and totally me.”

Emma-Leone Palmer | Ékstasis | 2022


Emma-Leone Palmer


Emma-Leone Palmer


Emma-Leone Palmer

Former Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year contestant Emma-Leone Palmer explores the complexity of the human mind in her hypnotic original oil paintings. Her ÉKSTASIS release of figurative works was created during the COVID-19 lockdown and captures the freedom and energy of music. 


After graduating with a fine art degree in 2005, Emma moved to Umbria in Italy, where her love of figurative painting blossomed at a studio once used by the High Renaissance painter Raphael. She went on to hold a solo exhibition of 38 portraits at the Watts Gallery and appear as a contestant on Sky Arts' Portrait Artist of the Year, where she painted the film star Richard E. Grant. Her work is also owned by the British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies.

Spiralling across each of the large-scale paintings from her Afterglow collection is a seemingly chaotic entanglement of neon wires. Allegorising not only the complexity of our thoughts but the digital information we receive and process on a daily basis, these bursts of light illuminate the female subjects whilst deepening the darkness they inhabit. The scale is deliberately larger than life to impose and make us confront the feelings of the women.

Exuding vibrancy and sensuality, her latest release, ÉKSTASIS, is a celebration of losing ourselves in the moment and embracing the magic of being alive. Through her fearless paintings, Emma-Leone Palmer explores the synergy of art, music and light; with rhythm pulsing through her veins, she has pushed the possibilities of oil paint to combine the canonical painting modes of the Renaissance with the hyper-neon colours of the 21st century.

Creating contrast between darkness and luminescence through chiaroscuro – a technique used by artists including Caravaggio – Emma uses light as an allegory for energy. She explains: “I’ve got to make my own energy. I am alive, and I want to paint paintings that make me feel alive. I’m going to be colourful, bold and totally me.”

Emma adds: "I’ve never been a mid-tone person: I love the highlights, the juicy little pop bits, and the darkness. ÉKSTASIS is about uplifting energy, and how we are projecting it forwards, upwards and outwards. This is what happens when you stop editing yourself and just exist. And it’s addictive."

Shop Emma's latest artworks here

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Inside the world of Emma-Leone Palmer

To create her hypnotic pieces, Emma allows her subjects to interact organically with pliable lighting strips and neon wires and takes hundreds of reference photographs before starting to paint. Using colours similar to infrared photography, the Surrey-based artist captures the futuristic otherness of the body by exploring each subject’s intimate connection with energy.

She is moved by a compulsive urge to create and the challenge of capturing an emotion. For Emma, painting is as innate as breathing. She loves the feeling of oil paint between her fingers and the way the colours move and blend.

Emma says: “I paint what I connect with, or what has me questioning...an allure, the way the light dances and caresses certain areas. I paint faces, although I like to say I paint expressions…not just what is on the aesthetic surface, but what is underneath. It’s the internal dialogue versus the external portrayal. The painting is only done when it starts talking back to me, like it has become more than me.”

While painting, she listens to anything from electronic dance to pop, funk and rock. She adds: “The music comes on, and the paint starts flowing. I listen to music every day to get me into my zone, my ‘flow state’. Music always takes you to places; like art or literature, it transports you to another world, somewhere above yourself.

“When you’re so focused and connected, time and your sense of self disappear. You feel completely and utterly in tune with you’re doing – whether that’s painting, running, writing, or making love. In life, we are all searching for that ‘thing’: the portal to our freedom. This is ÉKSTASIS. I’m painting me, I’m painting you, I’m painting all of us when we’re in that place.”

From the blog

What really happens behind the scenes at an artist event: Emma-Leone Palmer

In February, the figurative artist took over our St Christopher's Place gallery in London for the launch of her stunning new ÉKSTASIS collection. We joined our team behind the scenes to bring you the lowdown on what really happens at an artist event

Emma Leone-Palmer | Afterglow

The former Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year contestant has released her first-ever limited edition prints. We got the inside scoop for the latest video in our 5 Questions With YouTube series.

Magazines and brochures

Emma-Leone Palmer | ÉKSTASIS

Exuding vibrancy and sensuality, Emma-Leone Palmer's brand new ‘ÉKSTASIS’ collection is unabashed and unapologetic, exploring our sense of self and the way we express who we really are through movement and light.

Emma-Leone Palmer | Afterglow | 2021

Celestial, otherworldly and intensely intimate, the latest release from Emma-Leone Palmer’s Afterglow collection sees her ethereal female figures return for her first-ever limited edition prints. 

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