They say what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
Try telling that to artist Ann Huston and you will get a wry smile and a knowing sideways glance from under the long bangs she’s forever pushing out of her eyes. Lately she’s been feeling like that Leonard Cohen song – there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in – putting the pieces of her life back together one by one.
After a couple of rough years, that included a divorce and the death of her son’s father, Anne’s emerged with a new body of work and new representation. She’s showing at DAFA, the beautiful gallery on Kit Carson Road, owned by David Mapes.
David (and his right hand woman, Gallery Director Thea Swengel) are equally thrilled about having Ann’s work hanging in the gallery on Kit Carson Road.
“She’s an incredible artist,” David told me when we met recently, “with a singular style all her own.”
“I think she’s a very good fit for DAFA.”
It was clearly serendipitous as well. The day after hanging Ann’s work, Thea sold a piece. It just happened to be the artist’s birthday.
“David’s enthusiasm is contagious and refreshing and Thea is a total sweetheart, with an impeccable eye.” Ann told me.
Ann works with oil pastels to make the dreamy, lit from within paintings of the Northern New Mexico landscape she’s come to be known for. Her process is one that frequently takes her out on location but she’s not in her words, “a plein air painter.”
“I visit every place I paint, ” she explained, “i take my board and make sketches, I write all over them too, capturing the vibe of the place, the way it makes me feel.”
Almost like an archeologist or explorer, Ann collects bits an pieces she finds on site, makes notes regarding the lay of the land or the energy of a place, along with the intricate drawings and explanations she includes on the canvas.
“My paintings are definitely about feelings and emotions.” She stated.
“In a sense, I’m painting from the inside out.”
“When I get back to my studio, the canvas takes on a life of its own.” She continued.”I paint over the details and words and get caught up in the rich pigments themselves.”
Pastels are an incredibly difficult medium and Ann does not use a fixative to set the colour.
“I like the innocence of leaving it alone.” She told me.
She often includes adobe casitas in her landscapes and sometimes people will appear as well, meandering down quiet country lanes untouched by modern life and all of its complexities.
There’s a peaceful and serene timelessness in Ann’s work that transcends the mundane reality of daily life.
“Painting is my form of meditation,” She said. “it takes me to a place of calm and quiet strength.”
“I can always come back to my Self through my art,” she qualified, “no matter how bad the (proverbial) weather might be.”
I once again commented about the quality of light in her work, which brings me back to the Leonard Cohen song that aptly describes the place she’s been in for sometime. Going through a personal metamorphosis, akin to Persephone emerging from Hades’ Kingdom in the Springtime.
All images c/o Ann Huston