One of the most fun parts of our job at the gallery is to track down new artists. The search itself is really fun but what's even better (and more rewarding) is when we bring in a new artist - and you, our clients - fall in love with the work, just like we did.
Case in point with Ann Rudd, a wonderful impressionist painter, whose beautifully executed figures are mysterious and a little edgy. These small portraits are intriguing, riveting and we're finding it hard to drag our eyes away from them.
We sat down with Ann to find out what makes her tick - and what's the inspiration behind these magical paintings. It starts with a left turn that Ann took in college - and the rest is history.
HHFA: tell us a little bit about your journey: it sounds like you veered off to study psychology, not art, at the last minute. That’s an interesting choice and somehow not surprising when we study your very evocative figures.
AR: throughout my school years, art classes were my electives. However, when I was a college freshman considering an art career, I felt like a deer in the headlights. I felt that I did not have enough life experience, vision or creativity to pursue a career in art.
All the while, I loved my psychology classes. I found that I had an innate fascination with thoughts, feelings and behaviors, as well as a desire to work with people on an individual basis, and realized that psychology was a field that would allow me to value the uniqueness of individuals. Once I declared that major, I proceeded with confidence, earned a master’s in Applied Psychology and enjoyed a 30-year-career providing psychological services to people with special needs. I loved that work!
Even Ann's coffee cups are a little dark and mysterious. Elusive Coffee
About twenty years ago, I returned to drawing and painting for relaxation, and by that time, I had some ideas to explore. I think that my evocative figures represent a lifetime of interest in the value of individuals and an appreciation of peaceful moments and quiet introspection.
HHFA: tell us about the figures and faces - they all seem very mysterious and quiet, almost as if they are hiding something. Is that the psychologist in you?!
AR: I don’t think they are hiding anything - they are probably just introverts in thought! It might be the psychologist in me, appreciating the moments of quiet reflection. And there’s probably some mystery and moodiness in that reflection.
HHFA: do you paint from models or memory?
AR: well, when I first started painting figures, I used Anthropologie catalogs as inspiration, because of the moody poses and great shadows. I knew that they were copyrighted and I didn’t actually copy the images per se, just the poses of the models. Over time, I quit using those references and used my own photos and photos from figure workshops that I attended. At this point, I look for inspirational poses, scribble the idea out as a reference image and try to use that as a guide. I tend to use generic poses for particular moods and then create the faces, garments, chairs and backgrounds according to my mood and inclination, so at this point, I paint mostly from memory and imagination.
Beige with Basket
HHFA: we love the analogy in your bio that your work is like painting with oboes and flutes instead of cymbals and bass. Tell us a little bit about your technique and how you achieve those beautiful, soft palettes and blurry edges. We're finding that the portraits have a very romantic feel to them (in the very best sense!)
AR: thank you. I have always painted with very soft edges and colors. I almost always add complements and white to neutralize pure colors. I often use mineral spirits to melt them together into a misty, dreamy fog. Sometimes when a painting isn’t working for me, I’ll remember to “paint the air” in this way, and that usually expresses what I’m trying to paint. Dark values have always been my nemesis on the canvas, but I think I’ve found a way to weave them in. Regarding edges, I have to remind myself to find edges, like, I literally have a sticky note reminding me to find some edges. (HHFA: We love that!)