Emrich works in an Expressionistic style that straddles both abstraction and figuration. Her brushwork is both strong and fluid – qualities that echo the nature of water, itself. With zeal, Emrich captures the ‘special effects’ water presents to the eye: chaotic refractions in multi-planar space, sparkling light effects, distorted shadows, rippled reflections, etc. – much of it in thick impasto paint, contrasted by passages of smooth vitality.
The artist forged her connection to the water growing up in Southern California. She loved the feeling of the cold salty ocean, and being under its big waves. Isabel offers a special debt of gratitude to her grandmother, who often took her up on the cliffs overlooking the water to plein-air paint. “Just paint what you see,” her grandmother would tell her, taking after the French Impressionists of yore. In 2013, Emrich moved to San Francisco, fulfilling her dreams of studying at The Academy of Art University and receiving a BFA in Fine Art Painting and Drawing 2016.
Emrich explores the sensations of peace and calm one feels submerged in water, the dynamism of moving through water, and of the body luxuriantly enveloped in it. A subject’s body may float freely in a pose of complete relief, but the subject’s face and limbs blur with the airy world above, as they break the surface. Isabel explores the dynamics of this boundary with tension and interplay at work – where air and water and light and body converge. Light plays on the surface, reflecting, dancing in endlessly fascinating patterns. But it also passes through the water, illuminating what is beneath, bringing out the color and life of the body. Different colors ‘pop’ through the light with the changing visuals implied in a moment’s time. Indeed, being in water is one of most explicit examples one can imagine of ‘being in the moment.’ Time stands still, and once and for all the past and future disappears. Zen-like, one is in the here and now.
Isabel brings her paintings to life with broad, energetic brush strokes, thick and thin paint qualities, and generous color variety – all hallmarks of Expressionism. In fact, one of her main inspirations is the expressionistic master Van Gogh.