Interview: Ann McCann

Ann McCann

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Describe the time you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do? How old were you? Who or what inspired you at the beginning of your art life?  Who or what inspires your art life today?

I always did arts and crafts in the summer when I was a kid and sewed clothing as a teenager.  But, as far as making “art,” that didn’t start until my daughter was 6 years old (I was 40 something).  She showed talent in drawing, so I enrolled her in the Lakewood Arts Academy, a program for children run by Barley Vogel.  It looked like fun, and I thought that drawing skills would help me create visuals for my lectures at the dental school.  This was before so much software was available for this.  I started in an adult drawing course and started painting soon after.  I did plein air painting for fifteen years with Suzanne Kelly Clark and still take painting classes with Niki Gulley.   I like painting the landscape, and my mother inspired a love of flowers. She cherished her own flower beds well into her 80s.

Why do you make art?  What are you trying to communicate with your art?  What element(s) of your inner spirit is reflected in your art? 

I like the excitement of being “in the flow” of painting.  I guess I need to paint.  Right now I can only paint on the weekends, so I really look forward to it.  I want my paintings to make people feel good when they look at them or take them back to an event or person that makes them feel loved or happy.  I am a “cup half full” person, rather than a “cup half empty,” so I want people to feel that optimism from my paintings.

Is the atmosphere or design layout of your creative space/studio an important element in your creative process—why or why not?  Is there something—a keepsake, an inspirational quotation, a photograph—you keep in your studio for inspiration or motivation?

My daughter is an artist/working architect who went to an arts magnet high school. My “studio” is her former bedroom, and I keep her art all around me for inspiration.

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What kind of routines or rituals do you incorporate into your creative time? If you have one element or principle of art you enjoy working with the most, please describe it? 

The only routine I can think of is I like to sketch with ink and watercolor.  That is primarily what I do when I travel so I don’t have to take so much equipment with me. With my painting, color is the thing I focus on the most, intense and the contrast of complements.

Currently, which creative medium do you work in? What, if any, other creative medium would you love to pursue?

Mostly oil.  I also do house portraits in ink and watercolor.  I love the spontaneity of pastels.  I worked a lot with them in the past and would like to do more of it. I don’t like the fact that they are more fragile and require matting, glass, framing etc.

What is your most important artist tool?  How does this tool factor into your art making?

A pointed knife.  I mostly use knives to create my paintings.  I love the serendipitous strokes and blending that occur with a knife as well as the thick paint that can be applied.

How do you keep yourself motivated? 

I certainly have to like my art before I share it but having others like/want my paintings keeps me motivated.  Getting better and better at my art is also very motivating

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What one piece of advice would you give to an artist just getting started?

You will have to create interest in (market) your art, so focus on making relationships with many people to share your art with.

If you wish, please share with us any other aspect of your art life—professionally and/or personally—that hasn’t been answered in the above questions.

I look forward to retiring from my job as a college professor and painting full time.  I also look forward to spending more time with other artists.

For what one thing would you like to be remembered?

My paintings made viewers feel good- evoked happy memories.

Describe yourself in one word.

Becoming……………………….  All the adjectives that came to mind- continuous learner, aesthete, seeker, innovator, change maker-  fit into this one word.

Susie Kelly FlatauComment