After training as a Landscape Architect and practising within the profession for a number of years, Rosalind Annis rediscovered her love of working with pastels after a friend chanced upon her college portfolio:
“I was living in Leeds at the time and we were clearing out the loft…we found my college portfolio which had some pastel drawings of Manchester City Centre”
Inspired and encouraged by her friend’s positive response to the drawings, Rosalind bought a small box of pastels and began to create her own work. Starting as a hobby which fitted around her professional life, she eventually found that demand for her work grew and in the mid 1990s she joined the artistic community in Holmfirth by opening her own gallery on Hollowgate. Whilst working on local landscape paintings and commissions, she ran this successful gallery for a number of years. The birth of her daughters and the demands of family life meant that she then decided to work from home, carrying out her art part-time to create a balance with family life. Today, with children at school full-time, she works from a studio in the garden of the family home.
Rosalind’s work is inspired by the artist Gustav Klimt and Impressionist painters Pissarro and Sisley. The influence of the Pre-Raphaelites is perhaps not obvious in her work, but she enjoyed visits as a child to the Manchester City Art Gallery’s collection of work by Ford Madox Brown, Holman Hunt and Millais. As a child she was creative but as art was not considered a proper subject for serious study at her grammar school, Rosalind took her Art O Level independently. She cites her art teacher as a positive early influence,
“…he taught me to think differently about the visual world… to take drawing beyond simply copying what was in front of you, he made me more aware of how you can look differently at your subject matter…”
The subject matter of her work draws upon local and foreign landscapes and elements within the landscape: “…the work is based on where I go…you just see something… for me it is light and colour that are important in making a good painting”. Aside from the beautiful Holme Valley, she cites the Llynn Peninsular and the Northumbrian Coast as favourite and inspiring places for her work. The work featured in her exhibition at ArtWeek includes landscapes from Normandy inspired by a recent cycling holiday there, “…they were bringing in the harvest… I liked the sculptural quality of the hay bales sitting in the fields and how the landscape transformed over a two week period”. Trees throughout the seasons feature prominently within this body of work as well as her increasingly popular seascapes. “I like to move frequently between different subject matter as this keeps me fresh and interested in my work”
Her artwork is produced by taking many photographs of scenes of interest and from these photographs a number of sketches are made. The sketching process allows Rosalind to experiment and explore composition and colours. The final artwork is done on specialist sanded pastel card; this allows for the colour to be built up in layers and gives Rosalind’s work its signature vibrancy. At this point in the process the work draws upon memory of the setting and a feel for what will work in the piece as it evolves, of this process she says: “…it’s the last 10 per cent of the painting where it all comes together…”
It is the medium, the pastels themselves that Rosalind feels are also central to the work and it is a medium that continues to inspire her, “It has taken me 18 years to get to a place where I feel confident with them…I am totally self-taught and I am still learning. I love the immediacy of pastels, you have direct control over them onto the paper.” When asked about the direction her work might take in the future, she feels that abstraction instinctively interests her:
“…When I look back at my work over the years I can see how it has changed and progressed …I am always trying to experiment and introduce new colours into my work…. to go more abstract feels like the direction it might go from here.”
Interview by Emma Kirkby-Geddes
To view Rosalind’s website please click here.