This painting is executed in Emily's distinctive style of bold, bright figures which are intended to appeal to children. Like many of Emily's works, it is about watching the world, in this case taking an aerial view of a swimming pool. There is a sense of dynamic energy created by the movement of the waves and the blurred motion of the figure in the upper left. The long white streaks have been created by letting the paint drip down the canvas, replicating the flow of water down a vertical surface. The bottom left corner is covered in white speckles. The painting uses simple brushstrokes to create the waves. A close inspection of the canvas reveals the range of blue tones flowing together to create the water.
There is a strong element of playfulness to this image: consider the sinuous, elastic bend of the figure on the right, whose limbs reflect the curve of the waves. Lane markings have become blurred, and the swimmers are ignoring them: instead of the regimented vertical laps of an adult swimmer, the figures are engaging in disorganised play.
This oil painting is one of several works about Swimmers created by Emily with children in mind. Learmont was inspired to paint these scenes while recovering from illness and swimming at Drumsheugh Pool. Her intention was "[to] listen to the children's ideas about their favourite places and activities," and think "about the colours, shapes, details and atmosphere that [children] liked". Her work is strongly influenced by artwork created by children and produced for children's books and her intention is to reflect the fresh, creative and excited perspective of children.
Born in Edinburgh in 1965, Emily Learmont studied at Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Academy schools in London. She won a travel scholarship to Paris and the Christie's Award for painting in 1990. She has painted across Europe, including working as artist-in-residence at the Kunstcentrum in Leiden, The Netherlands. She has illustrated for a range of institutions, including NHS Health Scotland, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Speechmark Publishing. She teaches in the Education Department of the National Galleries of Scotland.
Art in Healthcare's blog entry about Emily Learmont