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Q&A with Painter Ann Pickett

Tumbling Down - Ann Pickett
Tumbling Down by Ann Pickett

A “circus” of color, a “flurry” of paint — Ann Pickett’s latest painting to be accepted to an Art League show seems ready to jump off the wall.

That energy and flow caught the eye of juror Erin Devine, who awarded Tumbling Down the Shayna Heisman Simkin Award for Best in Show. The artist, a graphic designer by day, told us more about this piece and how she works:

How would you describe Tumbling Down?
Ann Pickett: Tumbling Down depicts a figure that appears among the shapes and forms on the paper. This figure seemed to spill out onto the paper, landing solidly on a heavy ground. Tumbling Down is light and circus-like, yet contains a greater metaphor: in life, you find yourself juggling many pieces, but will always find a place to land.

How do you start a painting and how do you end one?
Usually, I choose a few colors and start painting in a flurry. I like to put a lot on my canvas or paper all at once, bold expressive strokes, color, and line, before I really take in what is there. I work very quickly and intuitively, reacting to each stroke as it speaks to me. I paint layer after layer, rotating my canvas, hiding or exposing what is underneath in order to create depth and light.

My palette evolves with my painting; I tend to like lots of colors, and end up having to restrain myself. I always paint from something: landscape, figure, still life. I’m rarely sure when I am done with a painting, but I am very aware when I’m done painting. I usually sit with my painting for days or weeks before I decide if I like it, hate it, or am ready to go at it again.

Still Life Abstracted by Ann Pickett (from the April 2015 All-Media Exhibit)
Still Life Abstracted by Ann Pickett (from the April 2015 All-Media Exhibit)

Do you listen to music while you work?
While I love music, I find that I only paint while listening to music on certain, rare occasions. When I am warming up or playing with paint, listening to something lively to move my brush to can help me get going, but I find that when I am really into a painting, I am so tuned in to what I am doing that music can be distracting.

Why do you paint?
I paint because I love to paint, to express myself in bold colors. Line and form just resonate with me, it feels good and right. I am a graphic designer by day, but painting allows me to let my artistic energy loose, to be brave and bold; it is just fun and freeing. I love the rush that moves through me when I am moving the brush and things begin to happen.

In Tumbling Down, what do you want the viewer to come away with?
I don’t paint with an agenda for the viewer. I want the viewer to look, be drawn into my painting, and want to look more. Really, I want them to step back and say, “I love it!”

What was your first experience with art as a child?
As a kid I loved to draw. My first showing was, of all things, Self-portrait in Swimsuit in 1st or 2nd grade at a parochial school. I can assure you it looked nothing like me! I remember being thrilled to have it displayed. Also, paint by numbers were a big favorite!

What are you working on now?
I am working large at the moment, inspired by landscapes. I am also back to class at The Art League this semester in an abstract class.

The September Open Exhibit is open through Monday, October 5.

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