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Getting to know Ann Oram RSW

As seven wonderful new paintings by Ann Oram arrive in the Long Melford gallery later this week, Ann helps us to understand the background and context to her work: 

How did you get into art?



I have been interested in pictures and paintings from a very early age. I knew from the age of 5 that I’d be a painter. Colour has always fascinated me. Right from nursery school in fact!



Where do you get your inspiration from?



My inspiration comes from flowers and gardens. I love Still Life and Flowers particularly, which of course are studio based. They are painted all year round but summer is great for local flowers. I really enjoy gardens and have painted a lot from Chelsea Flower Show. There is a garden that I work in also at Wemyss Castle in Fife. I just love colour!!



My other passions are churches and cathedrals. They are always on the go! I’m presently working on some little Italian Cathedrals. The white marble and decoration are so beautiful.



Last but not least is landscape. I’m about to start work on the East Coast around Berwick-upon-Tweed. We have marvellous beaches here and sand dunes. Then I will be painting The land around the River Tweed.



What are you striving to achieve in your paintings?



I think I am always looking for a balance between colour and composition. It must excite my eye right at the beginning and of course show in the final painting. Something must say you love the work you have done. It pleases you. That is inspite of all the insecurities that every artist has about their work, especially during the creation of a painting.



How do you start each painting?



Much procrastination!  Finding an image that I want to paint. It might be some flowers I’ve collected or a landscape that somehow has caught my imagination. Colour is always there; I often start with a coloured ground and work my way around that.



How do you know when a painting is finished?



I wish I had a fiver for everyone who asks me that question!!! It’s an organic process. Paintings grow in the studio. You work on them most days; it might be for two hours or 5 minutes. There can be a lot of deliberation and turning pictures to the wall. I always have a ‘holiday’ from them and look at them a few days later with a fresh eye. If you cannot see anything glaring out at you as being wrong and needing adjustment, then it’s probably ready for framing!!



What materials do you use and why?



I do two types of paintings. Firstly I use a lot of mixed media. This comprises of watercolour, inks, wax crayons and pen work. These paintings are very free and it’s a technique I use in my sketches.  The ink and watercolour resist the wax and the dip pen makes for wonderful drawing.  I go through phases of using this method.



The other technique is acrylic paint. I love the fact that I can get texture and also use thin washes of paint like watercolour in the same painting. It also dries quickly and has no smell which is an advantage. For this I use mainly Golden  Acrylics.



What is your studio like?



Usually a guddle!  It never, never stays tidy for very long. We built It (well my husband did. I made the coffee and bacon rolls.)over two years ago. It’s really a posh garden shed. Lots of space and light but as yet, no electricity which is challenging in the winter!! It’s not attached to our house but elsewhere in the village.



It’s the most wonderful space and is a welcome retreat from life in general. We also use it on warmer days to have a meal and share a bottle of wine.



Are there any specific artists (past or present) that inspire you?



Too many to mention!!  John Piper is an old favourite. He used mixed media in his work a great deal. Odilon Redon for his flowers. Our very own Anne Redpath (her son, David Michie, taught me as a 4th year student at Edinburgh). I love her very Scottish Colour and particularly her still life work and hill villages. Kurt Jackson I admire greatly for his landscape approaches. I could go on all day!!  I really could.



Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your work?



Well I always try to develop what I do. Not sure if I am successful but I love messing around with churches, cityscapes and then back to still life. I think I need to keep myself excited. If I have that I  can move forward. I would hate to do the same thing over and over. Inevitably I suppose I do with certain subjects, but when I have a one woman show, I like to exhibit the diversity of things that I love and excite me to paint.