The landmark buildings in and around St Albans offer inspiration for watercolour artist, Ann Marie Whitton. Caroline Foster discovers how...
ANN Marie Whitton not only has a love of art but also of Hertfordshire and her home town of St Albans, where she still draws much of the inspiration for her work.
Art has been a part of her life since childhood and she says she has been lucky to pursue art as a career, having worked as an art and crafts teacher in a number of Hertfordshire schools teaching across a broad range of age groups. In 1989, Ann Marie retrained as a special needs teacher, during which time she was introduced to Art Therapy, and studied for an art therapy foundation course at the University of Hertfordshire.
For a number of years Ann Marie also taught privately from her own studio called Dragon Art Studio, where she ran courses in drawing, painting and crafts.
Although Ann Marie is known for her watercolour paintings she is also qualified in Chinese brush painting, book making, photography, life drawing as well as print making, lino cuts, mono prints and silk screen printing.
Using a combination of all her skills, Ann Marie’s watercolour paintings consist of strong lines and a kaleidoscope of bold colour. ‘I use lines and colour for the interpretation of my subject,’ says Ann Marie, ‘but this means sometimes buildings might have a window that is leaning and they look a bit quirky. I use a sharpie pen and a strong palette of colour. In other words, I don’t water down my paints very much; I try and keep a strong pigment. I also mix my own colours and I’m always looking out for different colours to buy.’
This method of using a strong pigment of colour helps with the reproduction of the paintings for cards and postcards, which Ann Marie sells alongside originals and prints of her work. She currently sells at the Rose & Dylan Gift Shop and Graphic Plus in St Albans, as well as through eBay and other online sites. However, Ann Marie has also exhibited regularly in the area including the Margaret Harvey Gallery, Hemel Hempstead Town Hall, Campus West in Welwyn Garden City and more recently at Hatfield House for the Living Crafts Exhibition, where she carried out a number of demonstrations over the four day show. Ann Marie says, ‘The show was a lot of hard work but also fun to do, I got to meet lots of people and sold a few paintings too.’
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Ann Marie is also very keen to support community projects and has offered to paint a picture of the old Odeon Cinema in St Albans and sell it to raise funds for the restoration project, which is currently being undertaken by James Hannaway, the chief executive officer of The Rex cinema in Berkhamsted, where a similar project was completed a number of years ago. ‘I have already sold two previous paintings of the cinema,’ says Ann Marie, ‘so I thought it would be good to do another and sell it for the restoration project for the Odeon.’
Besides the Odeon paintings Ann Marie’s portfolio includes a number of different aspect views of St Albans Abbey, the Abbey gateway, Kingsbury Water Mill, a number of streets and shop lined streets, Old St Albans Railway and the Six Bells pub, as well as the Green Man pub and St Leonards Church in Sandbridge. Take a look at these and many more landmark buildings from across the region, which can be seen on her website.
Get in contact
Ann Marie Whitton can be contacted via her website at www.art-galleries-online.co.uk/artists/annmariewhitton