If we have to describe the artwork of Anna Roberts we must say that her art is very realistic. One of the reasons of this realistic style in her paintings is her passion for photography. She has been surrounded by art since she was a little girl because of her father, who is one of her biggest influences. Her paintings are full of pastel colors and light – that's the reason that she is able to create an atmosphere of relaxation thanks to the passion and sensibility in the treatment of those colors and luminosity. We talk to her to know what are the pieces that compose her art.
Hello, Anna. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live with my husband and our three kids in a 1920’s stone house, just a few minutes from the Yorkshire Moors, Bronte Country. When I’m not spending time with my family, I paint.
Your dad is an illustrator. So in some way, you have been influenced by him, right? In which way has affected this to your career?
Without a doubt, my dad has been my main influence. I remember as a little girl, sitting on the step behind him in his studio watching him draw. He was the only critic whose opinion I was ever interested in. My dad never taught me to draw but I guess we have the same eye.
Your technique is based in the use of the colored pencil and pastel. When did this passion for this technique started?
I originally painted with markers on plastic, using a spirit to mix the colors. It had a lovely translucency and smoothness, but the spirit was pretty potent and when I was expecting Wade, my eldest, I decided it might not be the healthiest idea, so I developed a technique as close to my old style as possible, using soft pastels and sponges to mix the colors. I recently discovered an amazing cotton paper, from a Somerset based paper-mill. It’s a perfect surface to work on, allows great depth and strength of color. I’ve more or less done away the colored pencils for now.
We could define your style as realistic. What was the first thing that draw your attention to this genre?
Probably those glossy, airbrushed images of the 70’s and 80’s. My dad did a lot of that stuff commercially.
How did you develop this realistic style over the years?
It’s just the way I naturally draw and paint. My pencil sketches are also realistic. Over the years my work has become more stylized and my use of color has matured. I enjoy the challenge of textures. Capturing the delicate transparency of a thin plastic bag, making a cotton shirt appear soft and tactile.
It seems that nowadays the realistic style is loosing the popularity that it had. Is there something new that you think that you can bring to the world of art or maybe to hyperrealism?
I don’t think about that, fitting in with current trends isn’t my aim. Good work is timeless, regardless of the style.
Have you ever thought about doing some work in the artistic field of photography?
I’ve always loved photography, it’s a really important part of what I do but I wouldn’t want it to be my main profession. When I take a nice photo I want to paint it.
Another characteristic of your paintings are the retro and nostalgic vibes. Most of them remind me of the 60’s commercials. What’s the special thing that you find in the 60’s or 70’s that you can’t find in the present?
That isn’t relevant to my personal work which is influenced by entirely different things, I just paint what I like. Yes, the illustrations I did for Charlotte Olympia and Veuve Clicquot were very obviously retro, to suit the brief. It was fun taking the kids down to London to see my illustrations, large format, in Harrods window.
I know that you are a big fan of the bright and clear colours but have you ever thought about doing some works with darker ones?
For now, I’m happy with pastel. I like getting to grips with a material – really understanding it and using it in a fresh way. I do love color, maybe it’s to offset the bleakness of a long Yorkshire winter. I tend to take most of my photos through the summer while traveling, then when it’s grey here, I can be in my studio painting more colorful times. Some welcome escapism!
Your work has been included in the book Two Faced: The Changing Face of Portraiture, a book about different perspectives of the portraits. How did this come about?
Yeah, that was a while ago. It came out of the blue actually. Darren Firth, founder of We Occupy, contacted me asking if I was up for participating in the project. I painted Hellovon and there was a nice little exhibition at Cosh, London, alongside a book by IdN.
What are you working on right now and what’s coming next?
Right now, I’m in the process of organizing limited edition Giclee prints, which will be available on my website soon. I have loads of paintings planned for my ongoing personal project – a mix of subjects, subtly linked with common themes running throughout. Maybe in a year or so I’ll exhibit… and it would be good to publish a book.