West Australian painter Ann Steer challenges herself continually to capture the beautiful moments seen and experienced on our West Coast beaches and by creating a painting that captures an emotion and atmosphere that the viewer can suggest their own emotive response to. Ann has spent the past year’s experimenting through bravery, mistakes and a determination to grow and develop her own style.
“My ultimate goal is to produce paintings that make people stop, pause and escape for a moment, maybe capturing a memory, or just enjoying the beauty in front of them”
Enjoy Getting to know Ann Steer….
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realise you had talent?
I always remember being creative, I loved art at school and was always drawing, I especially enjoyed lino cuts and was very interested in printmaking and photography.
Where did you learn your art?
When I left high school I enrolled in a printmaking course at Perth Technical College, there was a lot of tuition from lecturers who were practicing artists and it was a wonderful creative environment. After that course I didn’t paint for many years and around 6 years ago was introduced to pastels and I just loved that medium. Mostly I have been self-taught experimenting through bravery, mistakes and a determination to grow and develop my own style.
What inspires you most?
Our beautiful coastline, I do try to paint quite varied subjects but the ever changing ocean and sky gives me an endless supply of inspiration. I get so excited by the promise of a new blank canvas, that early time when you are collaborating photographs rummaging through the colourful array of pastels, sketching in the composition, it’s a free and easy time with no pressure or expectations.
I also teach children and adults from my home studio. I love that kids are so fearless with their artwork, their use of colour and carefree nature, they are so passionate about their art and they inspire me every day. I get such great enjoyment from these kids. I make a pact with my students to always tell me if I have pastel dust on my nose or forehead so I am not talking to their parents looking like a pastel warrior.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
I hope that when people view my work it gives them a memory of a time and place.
Describe your Studio…
My studio is built next to my house, it is beautiful space with lots of natural light and a huge cathedral ceiling. I have a bench running down the entire side of the studio so I can spread out my reference material and my numerous trays of pastels I have acquired over the years. I tend to work quite neatly and like to be organised normally working on one piece at a time. Having said that, I have been working with acrylics and juggling a number of different pieces at once has been an interesting learning curve for me.
Describe your typical day of creating art…
The day always starts with music, it just puts me in a great mood and I have such varied tastes so you never know what may be in the CD player. I get lost in a painting, I kick off my shoes and stand at my easel to work, at the end of the day my feet are normally the colour of phthalo blue from all the residue pastel dust. I love the fact that pastels are so instantaneous they don’t have any drying time so I can finish a piece in a couple of days.
I have usually thought about what I will do in the studio the day a couple of days before. I have lots of fantastic photographs that I take wherever I go, amazing sunsets, pathways to the beach and dancing shadows. I have been known to pull out my camera at odd times to get a snapshot of that wonderful cloud formation or the light hitting the ocean as the sun sets. I think artists see the world differently, we are constantly being provided with information.
What mediums do you use and why?
I use mostly pastels but I have been experimenting with oils and acrylics and have really enjoyed the change. There is something about my pastel box and all those colours lined up, it’s just like a candy store, very hard to resist the lure of all that colour.
What are you working on now?
Having just returned from Hawaii and was lucky enough to watch the Pipeline Masters, I have a huge array of fantastic big wave photographs. I am itching to get to work on some new wave pieces and I am especially interested in creating some stormy moody scenes.
Currently I am intrigued by oil and acrylic paints so once again I am learning, making mistakes, evolving. I really want to take some time out to play and experiment and not feel any pressure about the outcome.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I get to disappear into my studio and paint for hours on end. I especially love it when someone recognises the place that I have painted.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years time?
Painting and creating is a part of me. In 10 years time I would love to be an established West Australian artist. I will continue exploring and testing myself.