Meet the Artist: Ann Rudd

Meet the Artist: Ann Rudd

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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.

Mild Insomnia

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!)


HHFA: five artists you are influenced by?

AR: Berthe Morisot, Alberto Giacometti, Cezanne, James Whistler, Alex Powers, France Jodoin, Alex Kanevsky, Tybor Nagy, Ann Gale-- I’m inspired by their moody subjects, their grays, and their variety of edges.


HHFA: does dance and music play a role in your life? We see those themes repeating themselves in your paintings.

AR: I haven’t thought much about it, but as mentioned, I considered a career in music and I still play and practice classical piano. During the quarantine, I signed up with a piano teacher via zoom to regain my favorite Rachmaninoff piece. And then, of course as a teen, I had every 70’s album available, especially liked the singer-songwriters. So, yeah, sometimes I’ll get a notion to paint a guitar player, a pianist or a person just listening. Regarding dance, I can’t dance in any form or style. I’ve tried ballet and have no ability--but I love to see ballet, the grace, strength and poise of that form. The dancers make it look effortless, so I like to paint the grace and flow of the dancers, they look so free. Like ponies running in the breeze, ballerinas flowing through the air. I would like to do that!

Untitled with Green Chair

HHFA: do you have a dedicated studio space and how do you paint? Do you treat it like a 9-5 job or when the impulse hits?

AR: I have a studio room in our basement. I aim for daily painting, in the late afternoon and early evening, when errands are done and I can concentrate on art. I always have a question that I’m trying to explore regarding the process and that keeps me curious and motivated.

Prairie Girl Returns

HHFA: music while you work? Does your cat keep you company?

AR: yes, the cat is a great studio companion. She’s only interested in the art if I’m sitting on the floor with a paintbrush in hand; when I’m standing at the easel, she naps nearby. Regarding music: I would like to say that I listen to something cool like Jack Johnson (I listen to him in the car, but not the studio). I do have a retro record player in the studio, with Cat Stevens, Neil Young, and lots of good albums around... but alas, for some reason, when painting, I typically turn on the radio to the local pop station.  I think that the banter of the live dj’s and the basic songs and beats provide a cheerful distraction for my mind while I paint. Sometimes I’ll have the tv on, even the news. It’s probably best if I don’t overthink about the painting, so minor background distractions are ok.

Barn Walk

HHFA: favorite art museum in the world?

AR: Musee de Orsay (HHFA: we agree!)


HHFA: you’re inviting three artists (alive or not) to dinner. Who are they and what are you serving?

AR: I love this question! I will say...Michelangelo or Cezanne? And definitely, Van Gogh and Ann Gale. I would like to hear their thoughts about painting, authentic expressions and about edges. I might serve some simple, timeless dish, seafood, like baked salmon, rice pilaf, asparagus... I could see a casual dinner, having peel and eat shrimp with Van Gogh, outside, and looking at the sky!

We love how Ann imbues her work with her love and passion for psychology - and we're even more thrilled that all her roads led her to the easel.  And if you're enjoying her paintings as much as we are, we've done our job!

Ta ta.


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