After a bit of a hiatus, we are continuing with the Meet Our Members Interviews. First up for this year is Ann Lawson. Ann is a charter member of Mixed Media Art Group, and we just love her sweet, kind and cheerful nature. Her abstract mixed media art is colorful and always strikingly interesting. Read on to find out more about Ann’s work and her creative habits…
The answer to this question is a bit comical in nature. About five years ago this summer, I was invited to a fellow artist/friend’s open house. She had a rock garden, and asked her guests to paint a rock for her garden. Of course, I declined at the notion because I didn’t think she would want a rock painted by me. However, she insisted, so I painted the rock. My friend was so delighted by my painting that she got out her camera and actually started taking pictures! I laughed because I thought she was simply being cheeky, but she was very happy w/ the results and encouraged me to join her in taking one of my Mother’s art classes. I thought heavily about this because I had never painted anything except during those mandatory art classes in middle high school. So I went to my first art class in the fall of 2009, and literally fall in love all over again every time I pick up a paintbrush.
Where does your creative nature come from?
I have always been very creative. As a child and teenager, I did counted cross-stitch, wrote poetry, made latch hook rugs, and starting cooking at a very young age. Today, I am constantly creating, whether it’s painting canvasses, making one of my own culinary creations or adding to my garden. I can only deduce that my creative nature comes from my family, a/k/a, the ole’ gene pool. My mother, Linda Benton McCloskey, used to dabble in realistic art when raising her family, and today she is an accomplished artist who teaches workshops and classes all over the East Coast. She has won countless awards and accolades. Adding to that, a few years ago we found out that Thomas Hart Benton is an uncle on the maternal side of the family! We were happy to find out why we both like to paint so much.
What are your favorite things about your work?
This is a loaded question because I could go on for days answering it. For starters, my first favorite thing is probably picking my color palette. Color is the ultimate treat to me; it motivates, inspires and moves me. I am literally drawn to color–its saturation, contrasts, translucency, and the ability for the paint to be mixed with other paint and bear new colors. I named my first solo art show “The Language of Color” due to my love for color. Another favorite thing about my work is the feelings that a finished piece can convey. A painting can go from three shapes into an explosion of lines, colors and light. It amazes me at times how paint can impart such feelings of emotion from both the creator and the audience.
Why are you doing this type of work?
I don’t really call this work because it’s more of a hobby, not a profession. Or as I like to say, I have a full-time job that pays the bills, but my calling is in my paintbrushes. Painting literally brings me satisfaction, peace and joy. When I am finished with a painting, it’s almost as if it takes on a life of its own; they become my children in a strange sense of the word. When I sell a painting, I am absolutely elated, but a part of me goes with each and every one of them I sell. I hope to one day retire and paint full-time while teaching and traveling meeting other artists along the way. Now that is what I would call a “joyful retirement.”
Is there any time of the day that you find you are the most creative?
Considering I work full-time during the day, I truly have no choice but to create in the evenings and on the weekends. However, I do find that I am truly more creative in the daylight hours. I love to go outdoors on my deck to paint on a beautiful, yet non-windy day. The sunshine beckons me to go outside, and when I’m alone with my paints, beautiful things seem to emerge. I love to put my headphones on and dance with the music and my paintbrushes.
What patterns emerge in your work?
I’m an aficionado of circles! All types of circles—big, small, narrow, wide, long, short, tall, etc. I always try to put at least one circle in all my paintings, but most of them yield far more than one. They may be hard to spot as I do strictly abstract work, but they are there. If I have to pick a “pattern,” I would probably say I do a lot of organic work these days. When I first started painting, I did more geometric work—lots of squares and line work. Now my paintings are harder to define and more organic in nature.
What are your favorite tools?
Ah, tools, aren’t they grand?! To narrow it down to my a few favorites, it would have to be my paintbrushes, my brayer, squeegees, rug catchers, skewers, pastels, charcoal, graphite, and on and on and on. I realize a few of those are technically called “supplies” but I can’t live without them. Oh, and lest I forget, my hands and eyes!
What is your favorite color? And do you use it often in your work?
My favorite color is probably spring green. It is a bright, cheery, almost (but not quite) neon green that you see in fresh grass and on blooming trees at the very first sight of spring. It’s absolutely gorgeous and makes everything look fresh, bright and alive. The color contrasts beautifully with any other color I choose. I use it sparingly because it is a very bright color, but during the spring and summer, I use it more often because it’s so refreshing.
If I am allowed to have two favorite colors, my second favorite would be black. Black is very grounding and neutralizing to a palette. It makes the colors around it up almost jump off the canvas. It’s calming, yet bold, and can be mixed with any other color to darken that other color. By adding a little or a lot, you will end up with a vast number of colors to choose from. Black is a necessary color in each and every painting regardless of the artist, medium or content of the painting.
What do you want people to take away with them from your art?
It is my hope that my works take you to different places each and every time you look at one of my pieces. To me, the beauty of abstract art is that each piece is interpreted differently by the observer. Through color, lines and shapes, my works have one goal in mind: to arouse the viewer to come back again and again.
Who are your favorite famous artists?
Some of my heavy influences are many of the modern and post-modern expressionist artists of the 60′s and 70′s, primarily Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Jane Plum and Mark Rothko. Although she may not be famous, by far my biggest inspiration is my Mother, who is an accomplished artist herself and continues to motivate me beyond belief.
What can always be found in your work space?
There are quite a few favorite items found in my make-shift studio in my humble home. For starters, I like to keep a variety of canvasses in different sizes and depths. I generally work on 3-4 pieces at a time because I like to allow each layer to dry while working on another. I also keep plenty of tools on hand. I generally paint more with tools than paintbrushes. I use forks, spatulas, napkin rings, match box cars, squeegees, chopsticks, salt, lids, and bark, anything that will add texture and/or give me a different stroke on the canvas than a brush can do. I find that people are more drawn to these paintings due to the variety they see in the painting itself.
How do you share your art with the world?
I have several ways of sharing. I have a website: www.annlawsonart.com, where I continually add my shows, exhibits and new works. I show and share my art at galleries, restaurants, and art schools. I take art classes at a local level which gives me the opportunity to meet new artists, new techniques and the opportunity to grow as an artist. I also meet regularly with this wonderful art group adeptly named “Mixed Media Art Group a/k/a M&M” where I am exposed to a variety of wonderfully, multi-talented artists whom share their artwork and techniques at each monthly meeting.
My paintings are also hanging in my office which is located in a public building where individuals from all walks are able to view my works. I am a very lucky gal!
What are your goals for the future of your art?
While I am still working my desk job, my current goals are to continue to take art classes, in a variety of forms and mediums, so I can continue to blossom as an artist and perhaps even get certified to teach someday. After retirement, I hope to have a studio big enough to teach classes and travel during down time to workshops throughout the country meeting new artists along the way. I want to soak up as much as I can because the art world is a very big world indeed.
Ann is currently exhibiting her art at Burick Center for Wellness and Health, 2005 Technology Parkway, Suite 350, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050, 717-730-5000, through April 25, 2014 and April 5 -30 at The Garden Gallery/Haverstick Studios and Gallery, 10 North Hanover Street, Carlisle, PA 17013, 717-249-1721 with an opening reception on April 5.
View more of Ann’s work on Mixed Media Art Group website.