Bluegrass Art from David Emory

Scrub One Off - David Emory ArtIt’s no secret that Bluegrass Today celebrates the intersection of musical art with other forms such as painting and drawing. So we’re pleased to bring to your attention, another fine artist with an interest in bluegrass music.

David Emory works with acrylic paint on watercolor paper. Most of his work to this point has been capturing the beauty of nature and wildlife, but after attending the Galax Fiddlers Convention in 2008, his childhood memories were stirred and he was inspired to capture the excitement of a jam session with paint and paper.

The “Scrub One Off” painting was inspired by a weekend spent at the Galax Fiddlers Convention a couple years ago. I took some pictures while I roamed from campsite to campsite, and found myself listening to the songs but watching the hands and fingers of the players. I think that is one of the greatest things about bluegrass, the musicians are great pickers and work so well together blending into the mix. You can record a good bluegrass group with one microphone and it still sounds great. That pure feeling of those acoustic instruments that is what I tried to capture in the painting.

The painting is 14″ tall by 29″ wide. The original is still available for purchase, but you may also buy a print or even a license plate of the painting. Visit to see a full listing of available paintings, prints, and other items.

We caught up with David via email and asked him a few questions about his involvement with bluegrass and painting. He was gracious enough to reply to all our questions. We felt his comments were interesting enough that we’re including them with little or no editing.

Noting on his website that David mentioned listening to bluegrass albums with his father growing up, we asked him about his childhood memories of bluegrass music, and how it influenced him.

Scrub One Off - a close up of one sectionI did grow up listening to my Father’s bluegrass albums, Osborne Brothers, The Country Gentlemen, Flatt and Scruggs, J.D.Crowe, Jimmy Martin, etc. We used to listen on an old console stereo in the front room, (the room that children weren’t allowed to go in unless you had your parents permission, the one with the white shag carpet, lol.) My Dad loved bluegrass, country, and blues music. I  later learned to play guitar as a teenager, but played rock and roll and later morphed into blues, jazz, and country. Bluegrass was always there, as well as many other styles. I made my living in the music business in one form or another up until the early 90’s. I have wide roaming tastes in music, but am not too much on the current rock and rap styles that the kids listen to. I listen to bluegrass quite a bit, as well as the Texas songwriters that I love, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Jack Ingram, etc. I also listen to country music some, but  some of that is a bit overproduced for my tastes. Give me the live music, thats when the real players and artists rise to the top.

Do you still play? If so, what instruments?

I still play guitar and am trying to learn the fiddle, seeing if an old dog can learn some new tricks, haha.

How did you get started as an artist?

In the early 90’s I started a screen printing business doing t shirts and other garment wear and am still doing that. I originally had a partner who did all of the art while I did the labor. After about a year and and half my partner just couldn’t make the leap to leave a full time secure income and I ended up purchasing his share of the business. That left me to do the art as well. We still drew everything by hand back then, (no computers) and my skills progressed pretty quickly. An artist friend of mine, Jerry Bean, from Goldsboro, NC saw the rapid improvement in my illustration and composition skills and asked me if I had ever painted, to which the answer was no. Jerry took me into his studio and showed me works that he had finished as well as pieces in progress. He gave me a lot of inspiration and from there I went out and bought some beginners paints.

From looking at your website, there appears to be a lot of wildlife featured in your art. Is that your main focus?

Not knowing what subject matter I wanted to paint, I stumbled a couple months later across a coffee table book featuring Robert Bateman. It was an epiphany looking through those pages and I still have that book and gaze at it all the time, as well as a lot of other books and prints of his and many other artists. I didn’t realize it at the time but he is one of the most prolific and sought after wildlife artists in the world, so I started studying at the top and set my bar very high. I worked primarily on wildlife and some agricultural stuff in the first few years, but have of late been drawn to the way we live life, our passions, hobbies, and recreation.

Do you have any plans for more bluegrass focused art?

I do plan to do some other bluegrass pieces and am working on something with an upright bass as a main focal point since I chose to use an old washtub bass in “Scrub One Off”. I may even do a series with individual instruments, but am still tossing some ideas around right now.

What format do you work in, and why?

I work in acrylic mostly because it travels so well and is durable. My wife and I travel to the mountains most weekends to some property we purchased on the New River and spend our time kayaking, and enjoying the good friends we have made there. I spend my early mornings (usually up around 5:00 am) either painting or rambling through the mountains by car or on foot. Thank goodness for GPS or I would be hopelessly lost. I take my camera and just drive for a couple hours in no predictable direction, thats the best way to find unique places and experiences, then turn the GPS on and let it get me back for breakfast. It’s amazing how many times I end up only 10 to 20 minutes from home after driving for 2 hours.

What can you tell us about the prints and other items available on your site?

The giclee prints we offer on the website ( are a bit more expensive than the open edition prints, but the color reproduction is absolutely amazing, so close that it can barely be discerned from the original, and are done with museum quality substrate and inks that are 100 year archival. We have also sold right many of the license plates as well as the open editions. I guarantee satisfaction for my customers and if they are unhappy with anything they can return it for a full refund. I haven’t had any returns to date. I am also glad to personalize the products for them. I have had people buy prints for presents with personal notes written in the margins. Requests of that sort are no problem.

We thank David for taking the time to answer our questions, and we look forward to seeing his future work, especially the bluegrass related art. If you are interested in his artwork, be sure to visit and take a look at what he has available.