What was it that prompted you to paint in the very first instance?
My mother was the link to my career as a painter. However, she was a natural born painter and, unlike myself, painted in a very traditional style. I had just returned from an overseas trip and as her friend was giving lessons I thought, why not give it a go. I have always loved the impressionists and vintage colours; Painting took me closer to heaven.
What have you learned through your work as a painter? As a painter, I've learnt to not beat myself up if I can’t achieve what I’m setting out to do. Usually, something more creative arrives. Usually, not always. I’ve learnt perseverance and patience and accept my abilities. I’ve stayed as true to myself as much as possible and know that how I paint is literally me on the canvas - sometimes indecisive, sometimes stuck, sometimes happy, and sometimes very happy that I’ve finished.
What do you wish to express through your paintings? I love people to look at my work and be connected to the colour or the form or both. I love nature and every perfect flower, field, bird, and pond in it. I’m a city girl but dream of the country and life around fishing harbours, so I think I keep painting those subjects to make me feel like I’m there. I love how people connect to flowers their grandparents had in their garden. I also love it when I hear they had been to one of the country towns I've painted.
What is going through your mind as you are looking at your subject and about to translate it onto the canvas? When I start a painting, I have a loose idea, but flowerpots have become beach scenes many a time. I like to start on a black background and then go from darks to lights, building the layers until I’m happy. I may do an outline pot or loose flower shapes to build the balance of how flowers fall in a vase. I never get frustrated when colours aren’t working. In fact, I think, “What is this going to end up like?” I love the freedom I have. I am commander-in-chief of my brushes and palette knives. The real talent lies in knowing when to stop. I yell, “Anna stop now.” I love seeing customers coming into the gallery and then watching them go from painting to painting. They often say they have been meaning to come in for years.
How do you describe your style of painting? I describe my style as Annaism, actually, I am just joking. I see it more like an impression of how I see the world. It’s not abstract and it’s definitely not realism nor cubism. Every day a different vibe arrives and that’s where the excitement starts.
How important is colour to you, and why? What do you aim to accomplish in your use of colour? I express myself through colour first and foremost. Its not just about colour but colours. Pairing colours together makes me so satisfied and I get frustrated when can't get out what my mind is telling my hand. I don't just see blue I see 5 shades of blue and how that will look with a certain pink or orange. Some call it painting , I call it tormenting myself but I always get there in the end and no painting is sold until I'm 100 percent happy with the piece.
You recently went a little off side and painted a collection of Australian animals? What inspired that change and how did it feel? When Koh Living approached me about painting a range of our favourite Aussie flora and fauna I was up for the challenge and so excited to represent our magnificent icons. I love anything about nature whether its a gum tree or a lizard or a gorgeous Koala munching on leaves. I also donate regularly to OUR HAVEN WILDLIFE SHELTER where an amazing couple and volunteers look after stray and injured Kanga's and other wildlife. You have never seen such a dedicated not- for- profit. I sent them some tea towels and drink bottles with the kangaroo design.
Where have you exhibited your paintings overseas and how was the reception? I don’t exhibit overseas as I love to work within Australia. When I started painting at 28 years of age, I sold a small range of paintings at Southbank market on the city riverbank. Many tourists from all over Australia and worldwide came by and many bought and took my paintings back overseas. Having two children 12 months apart and divorcing 7 years later, I just kept my head down and worked so hard to keep myself and my household going. Overseas exhibitions were only a dream but one day, you never know!
How do you envisage your future as a painter? I envision that in the future I will teach children and seniors to paint but, for the foreseeable future, I will continue to paint from my studio gallery in Elsternwick/Melbourne and move forward one painting at a time. There is always something that I learn from my last painting that I bring to the next one. I paint to make myself happy and I couldn’t do it any other way. When I’m happy I know I’m true to myself and my style. I’m just blessed that people respond to what I’m trying to get onto the canvas.
What are your thoughts on the role or the connection of painting on health and spirituality? Painting definitely helped me focus during the many challenges I’ve faced. It was a place to escape to that was peaceful and I could lose myself in the colour. I’ve kept the same hours for 28 years, painting in the morning when I’m much more productive. When midday comes, I down the brush and go home. For myself, painting long hours doesn’t achieve anything. So, 5 hour bursts are perfect.
How has the current crisis impacted your world? And what strategies would you recommend for others to bring more joy into their lives during this time? During the pandemic when the toilet paper was in short supply I kinda freaked out till I realised I was gonna be ok . My heart broke for people losing their jobs and all round security. I posted many paintings on Instagram to cheer people up with the colour. I also ran a name the bird comp with over 460 names submitted. Hero was the winner. I sent the winner a painting and the 5 runners up a Koh Living journal with the 5 different animals. We all need to support each other in any way we can. At times we need the help and other times others need the help.
How can Australian’s support artists during this challenging time? Aussies can support artists by buying their paintings or products they licence . I have a method when buying gifts. Is it beautiful, useful or does it have meaning? My range covers all those areas. Giving a gift to a friend or to a child who loves animals, who doesn't love our Aussie animals! an everyday reminder of our wonderful animals.
Aussies can support artists by buying their paintings or any products they licence. I have a method when buying gifts. Is it beautiful, useful or does it have meaning. My range covers all those areas. Through my collection, Koh Living is also committed to raising $20,000 for The Smith Family to help Australian children living in disadvantage get the most out of their education, so they can create better futures for themselves. There is nothing better than colour art-inspired gifts that keep on giving. View Anna's range here