EMOTIONAL! is a children’s picture storybook that explores emotions as they are experienced in all of their new, strange intensity by children and aims to assist them in understanding these feelings. It follows the journey of a young, horned girl (plucked straight from the imagination of my younger self), and her sidekick ‘Puppy’ as she experiences and describes a variety of feelings. The emotions included are: bravery, anger, love, fear, grief, sadness, excitement, guilt, happiness and depression. The experience of each emotion has been painted on a double-page spread that links a colour and a rhyme to the feeling. It utilises a crafty, cartoony aesthetic to not only enhance engagement for young readers but also as an accessible, fun art style that may encourage readers to perhaps go and create work themselves. An important aspect of this project is the neutralising of emotions and introducing the concept of all feelings being important. ‘Neutralising’ in this context does not mean neutralising the emotion itself/getting rid of it, but rather getting rid of the idea that some emotions are inherently bad, and some are inherently good. Anger can be an uncomfortable experience but it can also bring justice and advocate for fairness. In the same way, love can be painful when unrequited, bravery can be unsatisfying and excitement or happiness can be malicious and inappropriate. This project affirms through the symbolic use of the rainbow that, despite emotions feeling big and sometimes overwhelming, they are all vital to the experience of life and all have a function and place.

Elouise McKinley, Studio space with Emotional! [work-in-progress], 2022, acrylic, glitter, sequins, gemstones, chalk pen on unstretched canvas.
Elouise McKinley, Emotional! [work-in-progress – final pages + bravery + love.], 2022, acrylic, glitter, sequins, gemstones, chalk pen on unstretched canvas.

Close up of drips on studio wall, 2022, Acrylic on plaster.

Elouise McKinley, Emotional!, 2022, Book, inkjet on paper and card, acrylic on canvas.

Elouise McKinley, Emotional! [studio installation], 2022, Acrylic, glitter, sequins, gemstones, chalk pen on unstretched canvas, inkjet print on paper and card.


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Elouise McKinley