Inside the Haunting Artwork of Anne Sudworth

deemarie · October 24, 2005 7:02 am

Message2445696.jpg In Dragon*Con 2004, British artist Anne Sudworth's artwork took a central spotlight in the Artists Gallery. As well as being a guest of honor that year, her painting, The Black Rider, also graced the entrance badges for the convention. Each day, every person attending was adorned in her artwork. I had the honor of sitting down with Anne to talk about her current works and how the Celtic Legends have influenced her art. Annes first exhibition, Visions and Views, debuted in 1993; however, her artistic career started much earlier than that. I was making marks as soon as I could walk, really as soon as I could pick anything up, Anne said when I asked when she had first started working with art. Since her debut, she has shown her work widely and everywhere from London to Atlanta, Georgia. Anne currently does one major exhibition a year with a few smaller ones around it, and, though many of these are near her studio in Lancanshire, her work is internationally known. I asked Anne if she ever created illustrations for book covers or other projects. She stated that she does not do illustrations at all. All of her work is in what she considers the fine art field. Fine Art, can have a very arrogant connotation, and some will say that fine art is better, but thats not the case. It is just different. In a way, it is easier. What I do, I just please myself. I dont have any publishers to please. She did say that, on occasion, shell allow her work be used for different projects if someone contacts her. According to her website, the most recent example of this, were two of her paintings used for Lord of the Rings covers. When asked about her favorite medium, Anne replied, My favorite medium is definitely pastels. Ive worked in all different media. I love watercolor, oils, and charcoal, but Ive gotten to work with pastels. When you discover something youre kind of drawn to it all the time. Pastels have such a special feel. Its like if I use a brush, I have to have water and paints. With pastel, I just make the mark on the board and its just an extension of my arm. To me that is absolutely the best part. Many of Annes works have incredible liveliness with lights coming up from trees and vivid moonscapes, so I asked her if she thought she could get more vibrancy with pastels than with other media. She indicated that she believed that oil paints would provide the greatest effect, but she also said, I think you can get vibrancy with anything, you just have to make it do what you want it to do. Anne and I also talked about what inspired her work. She said that nature is definitely the strongest, especially its darker side. She believes that in olden times people were more attuned to nature and the magic and mysticism that can be associated with it. Within the realms of this spiritual nature that inspires her, there are several key themes that often take center stage in her work.
Message2445710.jpg Earth Light Trees Anne Sudworth
The first of these is depicted in her on going series, Earth Light Trees. She has a number of works with beautiful trees illuminated, not from the moonlight behind them, but from the ground beneath them. Anne said, The trees with the light coming out of the ground are an old Celtic belief in Earth Energy. Celtic legend, the love of trees, and moonlight all play a very central role in her Earth Light Trees series as well as in many of her other paintings. She is very passionate about her love of these things, and it shows greatly in the haunting beauty of her work.
Message2445712.jpg Guardians of the Path Anne Sudworth
Another theme that shows up often in her work, and also falls along the same love for ancient mysticisms, is her use of what she calls guardians. Fantastical creatures such as dragons, unicorns, and large winged cats often appear in her work, once again nearly always illuminated in her beloved moonlight. She does not believe that these mythical creatures are only fantasy, but rather they are symbolic of the earths natural forces. Ancient things like dragons are guardians of the earth or a protective force. There is nothing more universally symbolic than a dragon, and even though no one has ever seen one, nearly every culture has one and that is important! Anything ancient, olden, or seemingly part of the past seems to have a spiritual resonance about them. Old castles and abbeys also appear often in Annes work for this reason. Buildings are icons of an age past; some still stand strong to the forces of nature while others have fallen into disrepair. In either of these states, Annes fascination with them has led her to create some incredibly moving images of them. She has the ability to capture the spirit of a place in her paintings, and I believe that comes from her passion and respect for nature and its older, more secret shadows. Lastly, Anne has a great love for animals, especially horses, and has been around them since she was young. She used her own horse as the model for her unicorn in Edge of the World and several other paintings. Her love goes so deep for animals she even has a page on her website devoted to them, and as animals are a part of nature, they often inspire her and are present on occasion in her work.
Message2445713.jpg The Edge of the World Anne Sudworth
Theres a wide range of views on what formal training and art school can offer to an aspiring artist, and because of this, I asked Anne what she thought. Art College is a big no-no for me. I think being an artist is born in you. I think you should be able to go to Art College, and they should be able to help you develop yourself. They shouldnt force their ideas on you or make you work in a certain way. Anne did attend art school for a short time and indicated that she made a lot of friends and had a good time. However, she also thought it seemed as if the professors wanted people to work their way. She did say that art school does have its good points, such as being able to meet other artists and have them criticize and critique. Plus, some practices in illustration and graphics may need extra classes to help show artists how to work with certain tools. She said in closing to the question of art school, I have no problem with people going. Its good working with people, but dont let them tell you how to paint whats in your heart and in your head. Some artists like to work in illustration and be given certain criteria they need to incorporate into their work for a certain project. Anne considers herself in the field of Fine Art, where she does not have to paint for anyone but herself. I asked her, in closing, what advice she would give to aspiring artists. This is what she said, Paint whats in your heart and listen to yourself. Take criticism! However, if you really feel strongly do what you want. I cannot paint to please. I have to do what I want. Creation will just happen, dont force it. Your art will develop as you do. If you love trees or love color, you do what is in your heart. She also mentioned that when you paint what you feel, and if it moves you, it will likely move others also. She added, I ask myself, If you were on a desert island, and youre on your own, would you be painting what youre painting now? And if youre not, youre painting to please or to humor someone else.
Message2445714.jpg Whitby Abbey Anne Sudworth
In my short time talking with Anne Sudworth, I found her to be a very passionate artist. Her love for dark shadows of nature and for the spiritual mysticisms that fascinates her inspires her beautifully evocative paintings. Each piece of her artwork is a piece of her heart and of the feelings that the places around her inspire. Just from viewing her work, seeing the vivid hues and dark shadows can cast the viewer into another world where one can almost feel the magic she creates. Whether because of her attuned nature to that of ancient Celtic legend, or because of her passion for nature, all of her work seems to capture the spirit and energy of the earth and perhaps of the past. Message2447995.jpg
  • Enchanted World The Art of Anne Sudworth Text by John Grant is an amazing book of Annes artwork, and is available in select bookstores. Additional images and excerpts from her book available on Annes website.

All supporting images are copyright, and cannot be
copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the artist.

Message2448004.jpgWe would like to thank contributing writer Diana Hilliard [dido6] for the outstanding interview, and we invite you to visit: dido6's Renderosity Art Gallery dido6's Renderosity MarketPlace store. Oct 24, 2005

Article Comments

Djeser ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 26 October 2005

My husband and I are great admirers of Ms Sudworth's work; it's great to get to know a little more about her. Thanks for the great interview!

LillianH ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 26 October 2005

Diana, Thank you for the delightful chat with Anne. It was lovely to learn more about her. We had the honor of meeting her at DragonCon last year. I found her to be an incredibly warm, generous and fun spirit! She was so open and approachable. She really does shine through her work. Our daughter has a signed print of "The Edge of the World" above her desk. Anne took the time to make her feel really special and inspired a young budding artist to paint was was in her heart. Thank you Anne! Lillian

deemarie ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 27 October 2005

Studying Anne's images is a wonderful inspiration, especially her unique use of lighting :] Outstanding interview dido Dee-Marie

Aaron_Price ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 27 October 2005

Wow your work is incredible, I see the patience and a lot of work goes into your pictures. The lighting and realism is fantastic, I agree your born with the artistic talent to do it. We all have artistic talent but express it in different medias. Again I love your work especially the skies in your pictures, keep up the excellent work and look forward to seeing more. :)

SndCastie ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 28 October 2005

I too had the chance to meet Anne at Dragoncon last year and she is a wonderful person to talk to. Her work is so beautiful and deep. Thank you Diddo6 for this great article on such a wonderful artist. SndCastie

calum5 ( posted at 12:00AM Sun, 30 October 2005

Excellent interview, facinating and I feel sound advice!Brilliant choice Diana~I love all of Anne Sudworth's work that I've seen so far! Bye cal

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