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Art & Life with Anna Thane

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Thane.

Anna, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I suppose I just feel the compulsion to use my hands, to fill time with scribbles or doodles or something more composed if I have a minute. Whether it be drawing, painting, sewing or embroidery, I gravitate towards picking up some sort of tool and creating something. I don’t remember the time before I was constantly drawing. I think I’ve hand made every birthday card I’ve ever given anyone; I was going to be drawing something anyway so why not put a party hat on it and make some use of the paper! My mom taught me how to use the sewing machine when I was seven years old and I’ve been making throw pillows and dresses ever since. The thought wouldn’t even occur to me to not be able to do these things.

I didn’t start painting until the summer after my freshman year of college. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me before then, I was satisfied with drawing, but once I finished my first painting I knew I needed to explore this new colorful world. I think I’ve always been afraid of paint, even now I’m terrified of making a mistake with paint. As if it isn’t as easily undone as pencil is with an eraser, it’s something that haunts me. In that way painting is totally my therapy. With every brush stroke I’m overcoming my fear of failure and I’ve finally gotten to a point where I can royally screw up and it’s actually ok! I can fix it! Or I can even be happy with the outcome. Actually, failure is what brought me to my “people wearing animals” phase. I was working on a painting of a little girl and loving everything about it but just couldn’t quite get her face right. I knew it was never going to work out for me and I didn’t want to scrap the entire painting so I randomly painted a gazelle head on her to cover up the mess of a face she had…and I really loved the outcome. That was kind of an ah-ha moment for me. I was torn between doing a painting of a person or an animal and realized I didn’t need to choose. I’m really happy with the direction it has taken me and the lessons I’ve learned in the process. Painting is an on-going learning experience, whether about technique or color or about myself and I don’t feel like I’ll ever have all the answers. I’ll just keep painting and see what happens.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I would say first and foremost I am a painter. I use oil on canvas because I like how slow of a process it is. The drying time gives me a chance to think about what I want to do next or what the background should be…I always paint the background last. Maybe I just like to do things the hard way. My subject matter for the past few years has been portraits. Specifically people wearing animals. Or more specifically, women adorned in some way with an animal or animal skull or horns. These portraits are just the trajectory I’m on right now and I don’t know where it will go from here. I’ve been having so much fun painting these ladies that I don’t want to stop just yet. I am not trying to convey any sort of specific message with my paintings. Honestly I paint what’s on my mind… things that I want to look at and I hope that others will want to look at them too. I think the very nature of them causes you to think about it or have some sort of feeling but it’s not my job to tell you exactly what that should be.

I also do embroidery, mostly portraits of dogs. You can really capture their spirit with thread, which I find fascinating. Embroidery is even more tedious than painting so it’s really therapeutic. I have to really slow down and focus and get into an almost meditative state to make such small stitches come together to show this beautiful living creature looking at you with threaded shining eyes.

Every single day I draw something, either with pencil, pen or with my finger on my iPad using the Sketches app. I call that digital fingerprinting. It would probably be easier to use a stylus but that seems so disconnected for me. I’m already not comfortable with the idea of making digital art, so using my finger to draw on the screen at least makes me feel like I’m driving the vehicle. I usually do this around 4 or 5 am while drinking coffee before I get ready for work. Its brain exercise. It’s literally whatever the first thing is that comes to mind that early in the morning, I just get it down on paper (or iPad) and it wakes everything up. It’s a great way to start the day. The coffee really helps too.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
That’s a loaded question. I think it’s entirely up to the individual artist to put themselves out there and thrive, but at the same time that’s so incredibly hard to do. I think for most artists, our art is our diary. We are creating little pieces of ourselves and then cautiously revealing that part to others for judgement. Hoping they like it and want to spend money on that little excerpt from our diary. I don’t think the way art is revered will ever be the same as it was for Picasso or Matisse or anyone working before the 21st century. I just don’t think that level of success is as accessible as it once was. People’s values are different and we’ve moved on to this temporary way of thinking. People no longer want a portrait painted of themselves to tell their friends that this great artist captured their likeness or their beauty in such a way! People take selfies to show the entire world with ironic hashtags and then forget about it. It’s just a different time and I think a strange time for artists. Where do we fit? What paintings are going to be hung in museums in 100 years? Will it be the same art that is there now or can any artist living today compete?

I think LA is a great city for artists. There are lots of great large murals and buildings purposely painted by artists. The weather is always nice so the city lends itself to bringing art outdoors for people to see, or just getting them out of their homes to check out a new exhibit or whatever. Honestly I have no idea what could be done to encourage and help art and artists thrive. The success of each artists seems to come from countless hours of hard work and maybe a little bit of luck. I haven’t figured out the formula yet.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Right now you can see selected works on my website, www.annathane.com. I sell 5″x7″ prints of the digital pieces.

Also I post regularly on Instagram and like to share my processes, so that’s also a great way to see what I’m working on (@annathane). I’d like to get my paintings out into the physical world and am working on finding a suitable gallery space. I also take commissions and nothing makes me happier than painting an animal head on someone.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Myself and Danny Rosenberg

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