Where I am
I live is beautiful Santa Barbara, CA. It is quite a horsey place, with the Santa Ynez Valley and its many equestrian facilities and breeding centers right over the hill.
Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA, although I only recently returned after a 28 year absence. I spent several years in the military flying helicopters, and about 10 years in Silicon Valley in technology management.
My career in art is relatively new. As a child, my younger sister was the artist and I was the musician. I never could draw, or so I thought.
A few years ago I decided that it was now or never so I took a painting class. It didn’t turn out to be much of a class – it was more like a lab with a teacher who wandered around and gave a few pointers here and there. I found with my very first painting that it came naturally to me and that little ‘class’ was the only instruction that I have ever received.
I have been blessed to have several very excellent artists as friends and family and we exchange pointers, tips, and critiques. The funny thing is, now my sister is the musician (she plays the cello) and I am the artist. Life is strange sometimes.
When did you first start painting?
I started painting in 2005.
What medium do you prefer and why?
I started out in oils, and my first couple of paintings that I sold were both seascapes in oil. I soon switched to acrylic for a couple reasons: The solvents used in oil painting are very dangerous for us and I try to be as healthy as I possibly can and I am very impatient – waiting around for oils to dry was driving me crazy.
I am in love with acrylics and will never go back!
Did your love of horses or your love of art come first?
It was my love of art first.
I have never had the opportunity to have a close relationship with a horse, but I think they are amazing, powerful, gentle, awe inspiring creatures. I am hoping one day soon to have my own horse. They make great art subjects: curvy and angular, soft and tough, gentle and intimidating.
I love the variation of colors, shapes, and sizes. And I really love the horse crowd. They are crazy about their animals, very passionate. It is a good crowd to be inspired and supported by.
What is your favorite breed?
Right now, I have a crush on Gypsy Vanners and Arabians. I want one of each!
Who are your main influences?
Anyone who paints loose and painterly. And I love people who aren’t afraid of color. Mainly my own local friends influence my art; Kellie Straw (an amazing dog portrait artist and my studio partner), Dorothy McKenzie, a local Scottish woman who paints landscapes in acrylic and has been very supportive and helpful to me, Steve Richardson, another local Santa Barbara landscape artist. I never studied art in school, so I am afraid I am a bit under-educated in art and look to the people close to me for inspiration and guidance.
Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
Well, if I told you they wouldn’t be secret now, would they? Haha, that’s a good question. Foremost for me is getting my left brain shut off and my right brain turned on. During the day, I am often working on my own internet businesses, which require a lot of left-brain thinking; analysis, logic, techical savvy, etc.
When I come home, that is NOT the side of the brain that I want involved in my art. One trick that works for me is to look at my reference photo for a very long time, finding the patterns of light and dark, and finding the patterns within the patterns. Until I can see more subtle patterns within the bigger patterns, I am not yet in the right brain. As soon as that starts to click, then I start to looking at my painting to see how well I am representing these more subtle patterns within patterns by using value.
Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
I am a Cancerian, and I love painting in my nice, comfy home.
But if I am not in the right mood to paint, the beach is the place the soothes my soul and inspires me with the abundant beauty of natural surroundings, which stimulates all of my senses. Sometimes, I just rip off all my clothes and jump in for a swim, even if it the water is freezing cold and I am on a public beach.
Call me crazy, but I love the ocean.
What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general?
Right now, it is a crap-shoot for artists to find what works online. I believe it may be like E-commerce and will take some sales from more traditional art venues, like galleries, and hopefully put more money directly into the artists’ pockets.
But like anything else, you have to figure out what marketing strategy works for you and your art. Every artist needs a website because every business with a product needs a website. People will ask you for your website as frequently as they ask for your email address. If you do nothing else, get yourself a website and get good photos of your art online. Then, getting people to find it is the trick.
Has it had an effect on yours?
It took awhile to figure out the secret formula, but now I believe I have something that works and it is kicking my art career into high gear.
The more that artists can get their art in front of people, that is what sells art. You can’t talk about art, you have to show it. The internet is great for that.
I have patrons all over the world now, where before, I was limited to who might happen upon my work in some random show in Santa Barbara. The internet is definitely the ‘killer app’ for artists, but like I said, takes some work to find the magic combination for each artist.
Which one is your personal favorite piece?
Right now, I am in love with ‘Diablo.’ He was the first horse that I painted and I had no expectations and was very loose and had a lot of fun with color. I am keeping this piece. I have another piece, a seascape called “Sailor’s Delight” that I also really love. It hangs in my living room. I am hanging onto that one too, until the time is right…
Would you ever sell them?
Yes, eventually, I will sell them both. I was told that artists should hang on to some of their early work as a ‘savings account’ because if you ever get collectable it is the early work that collectors desire.
So, when I knock one out of the ballpark, I keep it. They are hard to let go of when they are really outstanding and you know that their value may only go up.
What else are you passionate about?
I am a writer and musician. I play the bass guitar. I also love dogs, and anything to do with water: creeks, rivers, the ocean. I love the outdoors, sunshine and being healthy. I am really into nutrition, holistic healing, and am a raw/vegan. At 50, I feel and look better than I have in decades! Life is good.
Working on anything new?
I am currently working on a 48″ x 48″ close up of a horse face profile. And I have a couple commissions on the docket. I also have an amazing photo of a black arabian stallion from Qatar that I will be working on when the big painting is done. I think it is going to be one of those paintings that I may not want to let go off…I am planning on painting it BIG!
More to Come
Thanks to Anne for answering the interview and sharing her art. Be sure to visit her art website periodically for updates about her latest works.
Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists and photographers.
Are you a horse artist or do you know an equine artist you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.