Interview with artist Anna Thomas

Anna in StudioIt is a privilege to announce another solo exhibition with Anna Thomas in May. The exhibition “Songs from the Land” will be on from 5th to 20th May with a preview on Friday 5th May from 5:00-8:00pm.

Anna Thomas is an artist living and working in South Derbyshire. Using oil and mixed media, her richly textured paintings are a direct response to the ever-changing scenes that surround her, and illustrates her fascination with the esoteric aspects of nature. Anna has a first class honours degree in Art and Psychology from Surrey University and an MA in Ceramics from Cardiff University.

She has exhibited in the Ashbourne Summer Art Exhibition several times in recent years, and her painting “Grazing in Evening Light” was selected for the Derby City Open in 2012. This led to her being invited to present a solo exhibition “Beyond the Garden Fence” at the Derby Cathedral Centre in June 2014. Her painting “Sheep on Hard Ground” was the winner of the Derbyshire Trophy in 2014. Her most recent works continue to reflect a rural context and begin to explore the possibility of the narrative.

We asked her a few questions about her art:

Why did you decide to become an artist?
I decided to become an artist, or at least to study art, when I was struggling with pharmacology and chemistry on a nursing degree and I became friends with a graphic art student. It was truly a ‘light bulb’ moment, as I realised that what seemed to be an eternity of failing at school was probably down to the wrong choice of subjects.
Within weeks I had left the nursing and enrolled on a part time ‘A’ level art course by day and life drawing classes in the evening.
I scrambled together a portfolio and against all odds I was accepted onto an Art and Psychology degree. The moment I stepped into the studio I felt completely at home. I loved the paper, the easels, the charcoal and the paint. I loved being scruffy and working late into the small hours; in fact, I loved everything about it, and I started to have some success!
So in answer to your question, I decided to become an artist because it made me happy and felt like the most natural thing to do.

What inspires you?
It is predominantly the natural world that inspires me. It is the rhythms, the colours and shapes of the rural landscape and the flow of life that coexists, each with its own story to tell.
I find it very reassuring and calming to look out upon the landscape and skies and to feel that I am within something far greater.

What medium of art do you prefer?
When I paint on canvas I usually use oil or acrylic, or both, but when work on paper, I feel far more confident to use all sorts of materials. I think that it is because all my paintings on paper are protected by glass, and so I am more inclined to use collage and oil pastel or anything else that feels right.

Which artist inspires you the most and how have they influenced your work?
I would find it difficult to name only one, as it is a constant and evolving discovery of artists. Among some of my most dog-eared books you will find Bruegel, Chagall, Joan Eardley and Mary Newcomb. The landscape artist Keith Grant is also a great inspiration. He was my university lecturer and mentor, and it is not only his paintings, but also his extraordinary commitment to his work and his love of life that never cease to amaze me.

What do you regard as your major achievement?
The intimate relationship with each painting and sometimes the battle to reach that inexplicable point of completion is always an achievement and nothing is taken for granted.

Where do you see yourself going from here? 
There are so many possibilities to explore with materials, subject matter and creative response, and there is always so much more to learn. It is such a privilege to be able to work as an artist, and I hope that I may continue for the rest of my days.

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