When she isn’t spending her days soaking up the sunlight while painting, Emily Jeffords is a teacher, speaker, and mother of three in Greenville, South Carolina. As a female creative who truly loves what I do, I greatly admire women within the creative industry who are able to enjoy the journey of cultivating a life which ignites a flame within them. Emily does just this as an abstract impressionist painter, with nearly 10 years of experience under her belt, and the architect of her life — she is creating with color to communicate beyond words. For her, painting is so much more than what’s brushed onto the canvas.
Working out of an 1890’s white-washed studio with watercolor, acrylic, canvas on paper and mixed media — Emily uses her art to find peace and grace in the world in which she lives. Each piece tells its own, unexpected story. After years of traveling and experiencing a wide variety of cultures and lifestyles, she processes through a very unique lens and appreciates art on a spiritual level. With the belief that the most significant objects within a home are the handmade, the old, the books and, of course, the art — it’s no question that Emily is a gem, bringing life and connection to the New Southern movement. She is a beautiful ode to a life well lived while blending textures, mixing patterns, allowing the magic to come to her and naturally moving with the ebb and flow of it all.
From her excitement about the growing tribe of young female artists who are reinterpreting Southern charm to her life motto, “Do it for the process” — I couldn’t wait to introduce Emily’s way of doing art and life, in general, to The New Southern.
Alyssa Rosenheck: Tell us about yourself….
Emily Jeffords: I am an internationally collected artist, a teacher, speaker, and mother of three...Working out of an 1890’s mill house, turned art studio. I have been working as a full-time artist for nearly 10 years and am honored to have my work in countries across the globe.
AR: How are you modernizing / updating southern style with your art?
EJ: The south has a long history with artwork, from ornate portraits of fancy ladies and gents, to the folk art of the working class. The art scene is still vibrant and growing in most Southern cities. What excites me is the tribe of younger artists who are feeding off the lush inspiration that the Southern landscape and its people provide — artists who are reinterpreting that charm into something fresh, colorful, abstracted, and modern. I am proud to be a part of this group of talented women who are taking a fresh look at our surroundings.
AR: What innovative trends are you seeing with Southern Style across the country?
EJ: New uses of bright colors and pastels have been a long tradition in the South and that trend has not only crept outside of the Southern borders, but has basically taken the world by storm. Post pinks, warm yellows, vibrant greens…all mixed with an earthy esthetic that is welcoming and warm. Also, because we have such a gentle climate, plants and gardening play such an enviable roll in our design concept. Bringing the lush landscape inside, filling a room with plants, looking out over a garden — these are perhaps my favorite decorating “techniques”.
AR: What are your favorite hometown design interior boutiques?
EJ: My absolute favorite local boutiques are nearly polar opposites in appearance, but both carry a similar soul: intentional, artistic, unassuming beauty.
Art & Light Gallery — mostly a gallery, but so welcoming and wonderfully presented. It doesn’t feel stodgy or high-brow, and yet it carries some of the most innovative and beautiful artwork I’ve seen.
We Took the Woods — Another local boutique featuring a moody mix of nature-inspired home products, vintage and antique gems, and beautifully crafted home goods.
AR: Favorite shade of white and black paint color?
EJ: We used Ethereal White by Sherwin Williams for 90% of our home (we live in a 1960’s mid century house in the woods) and really love the neutral color and light it brings into the space.
AR: What’s your life motto?
EJ: “Do it for the process.” As an artist and creative person, it can be so easy to find value only in the end product, but the process is where joy is located. The movement, decision-making, the repetition and creative rhythm — the process holds satisfaction.
AR: The place you go to get inspired?
EJ: I’m a firm believer in creating a habit of inspiration (meaning you can trigger inspiration in your own mind whenever needed because you are in such a consistent rhythm of doing so). But, when I really, really want a strong dose of inspiration, I go to the countryside (preferably in France) or a State/National park and spend time in a mindfulness practice followed by me taking 100 pictures of scenes and elements that bring me peace.
AR: The key to making a house a home? What does a home need more of and less of?
EJ: A home gains a soul when its inhabitants live fully and joyfully within its walls. While the actual objects matter very little in that regard, they do tell a visual story and bring the spirit of the home to life. My favorite objects in a home are ones with history and connection or bring life —collected, handmade, old, new, plants, books, ART… Objects with some life inside of them bring life into a room.
AR: Design advice you’ve received that made all the difference?
EJ: When I married my husband we were advised to keep our home very neutral and to bring in our individual personalities through the accessories and artwork. We have embraced that and have tried to give our home a minimalistic foundation while going a bit overboard on the things we love most (plants, artwork, and objects that trigger beautiful memories.)
AR: What’s your favorite housewarming gift?
EJ: I love to give plants in these moments because they bring a bit of life and vitality with them – and who doesn’t need an extra bit of green in their space?
AR: The one shade that changes everything? Tell us what mood it evokes and when/how you’ve used it.
EJ: White. It is the most transformative color, making every shade nearby more alive and vibrant.