Born in Yorkshire in 1959, Ann graduated from Canterbury College of Fine Art in 1987 with a BA Honours degree in Fine Art. After taking a studio in Faversham for three years and a period of travelling in Spain, she settled in London and had a studio in Tulse Hill. Ann worked as a gardener to support her painting and extensive travels to Nepal and India. Her paintings were accepted on several occasions into the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Discerning Eye Exhibition, New English Art Club and the Royal Society of British Artists at The Mall Galleries in London. Her work was exhibited around the UK and she had a solo show in Bergen, Norway at Gallery Urd during this time.
In 2006 Ann moved to Cornwall and in 2008, won the West Country regional prize at the Discerning Eye Exhibition after being asked to exhibit six paintings by Fred Cumins RA. In this same year, a painting was selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and in 2009 her work was selected for the Royal West of England Academy Exhibition.
Ann now exhibits regularly with Panter & Hall in London, Josie Eastwood Fine Art in Hampshire, The Jerram Gallery in Sherborne, The Wykeham Gallery in Sherborne and with us, here at Jackson Gallery in Rock.
Ann works mainly in oil on linen, canvas or board. The painting surfaces are prepared first with layers of gesso and then colour. This under-painting is integral to the finished piece – it is revealed through glazes and impasto paint manipulated with palette knives, cloths and brushes. The still-life paintings are a direct response to the things around her studio. Flowers, pots and other vessels. Ann’s still-life paintings have, she says, been influenced most by William Nicholson, Manet, the photographs of Charles Jones and William Scott and the St Ives School.
Although the work is now still-life, the landscape is still evident. Living in West Penwith, minutes from arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world, it seems to nevertheless creep in to the paintings through her choice of colour, tone and line. But by not directly painting the landscape where she lives, Ann has chosen to keep the coast paths as her place to walk, relax and think.
Ann ends each day by cleaning her brushes and palette knives onto newspaper. But this is actually the start of her process, as she uses these marks on as a beginning point for the little paintings that become her source material. These small sketches, done in minutes or hours are made in a completely pressure free way, allowing complete freedom. Although they are sometimes done quickly, all are beautiful. They are so important to Ann’s process and so closely linked to her finished work that she feels like she could no longer work without them. Of course not every one of these little paintings will make it to become a larger piece, but each one is a vital part of her everyday working practice. After some time pinned up on the studio wall, the sketches are then pasted into notebooks.
Recently, Ann has been using old diaries for her sketches. Not sure whether to keep them or throw them away, but certain she didn’t want anyone else to read them, she came to a decision…
“I’m revisiting, reading that day…and painting over it. Some of those pages will turn into paintings. This feels like a strange kind of liberation. To reread and eradicate old diary entries with paint.” Ann Armitage