Anita’s front door is adorned with an exquisite dragonfly, and sets the scene perfectly for the artist that I’m about to find within. Her home, an expansive high ceilinged, light and airy space of beauty, welcomes me. The walls are filled with her art, generously adorning every viewpoint. My curious eye does not rest as I’m offered tea in a beautiful round cup.
She talks about the reasons behind each painting and what inspires her to start one: “If I’m sad, I paint happiness. If I’m angry, I paint calm. It seems to come across too; many people who buy my paintings describe clearly feeling the emotions that were often my intention when creating them. I often paint to work through the emotion I’m feeling and help the other one to transpire.”
Nature is the perfect subject to find a way in to this inner world. Its transience, the decay that happens so quickly after a full bloom, the constant cycle from seed to bloom and back to seed again is a wealth of metaphor for the artist. And Anita has harnessed it perfectly.
“I’ve been painting all my life, from the day i could pick up something which could make a mark on a surface. My poor mum would find the garden path covered in chalk paintings, all the soap in the bathroom carved into little animals when I was tiny. “ she explains, “It has always been my greatest passion. I did have another career for a long time, but 15 years ago just had to give all that up and paint full time.”
Her bravery has paid off. Her paintings are much sought after worldwide, and no wonder; her ‘Big Flower’ series has received much acclaim. Indeed she’s currently working on a number of commissions for clients in the UK, US and the Middle East, and another exciting project is a series of paintings inspired by the spiritual poetry of Paul Warren Goldstein. The painting that is laid out on her table is based on the poem called Impermanence.
She explains her enthusiasm for the project: “To me, nature is the purest example of impermanence and in impermanence, lack of attachment. As I chose the subject matter and worked on the painting, it became clear to me how every moment of life is beautiful in its own way. Aesthetically one may be drawn to the field of poppies in its full glory, red petals, delicate in the sun and expect that that is the highest moment of beauty. That moment was beautiful, but the petals last a mere day, fall, disappear. As they fade every moment after has its own wonder; the changes in colour, in focus as the seedpods ripen then shed their precious cargo to create the next generation.” All aspects of this project, the paintings, poetry and her thoughts will be combined into a book and a series of inspirational cards.
The accessibility of her art is important to her, and this diversifying of her talent is a hint at the business woman who, she says, needs to exist alongside the artistic soul. She has plans to use her paintings on house furnishings, crockery, cushions … to expand her vision into the future.
She believes that all art is worthy of note, that no bad art exists. When asked to judge and pick a ‘winner’ from a classroom of young artists in the past, she has refused, and given all 67 a detailed critique instead, she says: “If I’d picked a few that I considered the best that would have left over 60 artists feeling that they weren’t good enough. I wanted each child to be encouraged.”
The vibrant colour and the nature subjects in her paintings have been likened to Georgia O’Keefe although she talks about her influence being very much nature and not other artists.
“I do love art and seeing other peoples’ work is inspiring and exciting, but I appreciate different styles for many reasons. I love art with colour, movement and feeling which spans the ages from the masters to contemporary artists. I mostly love art which is totally different in style to mine, I guess because I love the variety.”
Many people have told her how her paintings have changed their lives. She puts this down to her painting of emotion with colour. “I have an extra cone in my eyes so I see everything in technicolor. I don’t believe in the existence of grey, if you look at my paintings you’ll see that grey and black has no place in my palette.” One lady contacted her to say that since she purchased her painting she comes home and doesn’t automatically reach for the wine any more. Being sat in front of it for a while is enough to calm her down.
Anita believes that what she asks for she will get if it’s appropriate. This attitude to life has served her well in her transition from high-powered business woman to successful artist, and in more recent years her transition from Surrey to Devon, which metaphorically to me feels like the same transition. The belief in change being part of life and the acceptance of this underpins her life approach … “Like the dragonfly,” she says, “they are very symbolic to me. They munch away under the water, working really hard, and then transform into a beautiful gossamer creature. As I believe in asking for what I want. I once told a friend that I wanted a dragonfly to come and pose for me, and then not long after I was on a course and one just flew in and waited for me to paint it.”
The dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water could represent an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life. If this is true then it is the perfect totem for Anita and her artistic journey.
More information about the poem project can be found here: http://www.nowinska.co.uk/impermanence-the-freedom-of-letting-go-of-attachment-flower-painting-based-on-poetry/
by Kate Sermon