“Because I never learnt formally, I have no rules. I taught myself and each work leads to the next; I have a loose plan when I start a new canvas but I don’t draw it out first. It’s like an adventure!” says Melbourne artist Anna Blatman who did stints as a receptionist, manicurist and waitress as well as a year in a kibbutz before pursuing her art career full-time some 30 years ago.
Initially selling from a market stall in the Melbourne CBD, Anna would sell up to 40 small paintings a week and was the primary earner for her family, taking only six weeks off when each of her two children were born. “I like to say I was one of the first mum artists where I was a mum and a painter. I wasn’t one of those artists up drinking red wine into the early hours!” says Anna who eventually purchased a studio in Elsternwick where she still works today.
Not far from her home, Anna paints at the studio almost daily and views the practice like meditation. “When you’re painting, you can’t think of anything else apart from mixing colours and applying them,” says Anna who begins each work without a specific plan and enjoys the unexpected outcomes that often arise. The works are sold through her gallery as well as through various homewares stores and galleries throughout Australia. Anna also undertakes regular commissions.
About 12 years ago, Anna was approached by the print company Artist Lane who transferred her originals to print and it was through this relationship that Anna’s work can now be found on Temple and Webster and The Block Shop. “I had always wanted to sell prints but was just waiting for the right person to come along,” says Anna. The artist’s work is also licensed to several companies that use it on a variety of homewares products sold throughout Australia.
“I love to play with colour and I try and keep the subject matter close to my heart. I love flowers and I’m very nostalgic. For instance, I love vintage pots of flowers, but I like to make them modern,” says Anna who, aside from regular painting, also runs small group painting workshops at her Melbourne studio. “They are fun for me as I usually work by myself,” says Anna who has also found popularity with art teachers across the globe – connections that were made through Instagram.
“Art teachers are always looking for different things to do with their students and a lot of art teachers around the world are now teaching kids how to do my birds and snails,” says Anna who presumes they are drawn to her aesthetic because it’s happy, colourful and bold. “I’m a bit of a big kid I guess but the kids’ works are bloody good!”