Annie Coxey’s abstract artworks ripple with unstated emotions. Colours and textures nestle together to become aerial landscapes, underwater explorations or extreme close up of natural phenomena.
Becoming an artist, she says, “was a slow burner. At school I enjoyed art, but never really shone. I trained as a staff nurse and had three children, looking after them while working part time at the local hospital.”
All three of Annie’s offspring have special educational needs, which required a lot of Annie’s energy when they were small.
“When my youngest child was two years old and I was 35, I became ill with an overactive thyroid,” she says. “It took the doctors a long time to diagnose me and by then I’d lost a lot of weight and I had to go on medication to regulate my heart. So I took time out and resigned from my job and signed up for an art course on a whim.”
Annie was fortunate to have a very inspirational teacher “who opened my eyes.”
Soon afterwards, Annie signed up to do a degree at Cheltenham School of Art. “I had an amazing experience over the next three years and learnt so much about art, painting and also the philosophy of Art,” she says. “I also discovered I was dyslexic, which I had long suspected and this too made me discover so much about myself. A whole new world opened up to me and there was no going back – I couldn’t get enough of all the things I was learning about.”
Ever since, Annie has developed her practise as a painter and continues to learn. “I teach and also work in a college as an Art Technician, which I love, and I have a studio I manage to get to two days a week.”
Her preoccupations include “the balance between ‘the happy accident’ – control is something I do to push boundaries with in my work. It involves risk taking and exciting moments with the materials I use. I like to use materials in an unconventional way.”
She is adept at using collage, “particularly dress making patterns which remind me of the symbols on maps.”
Other favourite techniques include mark making, “and materials such as resin, inks and paints. I believe strongly that risks have to be taken and as an artist you need to be working outside your comfort zone. It needs to be scary and a rollercoaster of pleasure and pain!”
She adds that it’s also important “to be acutely aware what is happening with the work and to actually ‘see’ the magic moments as they happen.” This is where the control element comes in, to identify what needs to be kept and what needs to change in order to prevent Annie’s works becoming “a messy mix of materials on the canvas. Some paintings are resolved in weeks, others take months and months of work.”
Annie recognises that her ideas of shape and colour have evolved over the last 15 years. “I have an intuitive feeling for what looks ‘right’ and is an exciting combination.” She attributes this skill at least in part to her dyslexia. “ One of the perks of being dyslexic is the ability to think outside the box, problem solve and also to know visually what works,” she explains. “Due to the fact I’m using layers with paint, collage and resin, I’m able to experiment – knocking it back and adding new layers as I go.”
The real and imagined worlds collaborate in Annie’s creations. “I gather a great deal of inspiration from the Cumbria landscape around me,” she says. “However, I never work directly from photos or sketches. I don’t know what the work will look like when I start – it develops and becomes a conversation between myself and the painting.”
A fascination with maps, textures and layers all add interest and curiosities that draw the viewer in. “At the moment many of my paintings have developed from my sketches and photos taken around the time of the floods in Cumbria,” she says. “I have been interested by the changes in the landscape by the floods and the flood debris that is still evident.”
Annie relishes the mix “between working as an artist and working with young people at college.”
The ups, and even the downs, of making the work in the studio can be equally enjoyable. “I love the feeling I get when exciting things happen in studio.”
And all the other aspects of being an artist feed into Annie’s pleasures derived from looking, learning and developing her abilities. “I love lots of the things I do that make me an artist – visiting exhibitions, doing workshops with artists I admire, sketching in the landscape and reading articles and books.”
Annie is beginning to look beyond Cumbria and the North West of England too. “This summer I went to Italy on a residency which was an amazing experience,’ she says. “I was inspired by the landscape in Italy and enjoyed working alongside other international artists. The studio I worked in had the most fantastic view and it was wonderful to only have to think about working as an artist every day and nothing else.”
More recently she visited Art Fair Cologne “with all my paintings in my car boot – this is very new for me and is both scary and exciting! I feel I am at the stage now where I’m more confident about my work, what I do and why I do it.”
You can see more of Annie’s work at anniecoxeyartist.com.
Know an artist you’d like to see showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Give me a shout at judy(at)socketcreative.com.