Interview with artist Anne McAllister

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Anne McAllister doesn’t have far to look for inspiration when she’s in her home studio in Thornbury. For just outside the studio door in her pretty back garden are her chickens, the subject of several paintings. She has a varied portfolio of work, and as well as animals such as geese, hens and sheep she paints landscapes, people, vintage cars and scenes from her travels.

Painting has always been in Anne’s life, from childhood, through teacher training college where she specialised in art and through her career in education. Towards the end of her time as a deputy head teacher she made the decision to put more time into painting. “I’d given up lots of things through lack of time, and I decided I wasn’t going to give that up. I put Saturday mornings aside for it, as that was the only time I had.”

She visited the Severn Vale Art Trail and was inspired to exhibit her own work the following year. It went well, and after it had finished people continued to come back to her for more pieces. She has carried on showing both there and with the local art club, and in November she also exhibited at the Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail in Bristol.

Two years ago Anne retired, and since then she has found far more time for painting. Many of her subjects will be familiar to local residents, such as St Mary’s church, views over the River Severn, wild garlic and bluebells at Damery and Cotswold lavender fields. She has also travelled and alongside familiar local scenes are pictures of gardens, markets and architecture of Africa and the streets and canals of Venice.

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Her work is in gouache, pastel and most often acrylic, which she loves for its versatility. “You can paint over it, layer it, do all sorts of things with it and it can be quite subtle. People often won’t be able to tell the difference between that and an oil painting just by looking at it. You can water it down so that it’s more like watercolour as well.”

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Above the fireplace in her living room is a big colourful canvas of a market scene in Cameroon entitled “Market Day in Bafia”. It was one of the paintings she created on Saturday mornings while her working life was so busy. She has had prints and cards made of many of her favourite paintings, including the market scene. To view a gallery of her work visit her website http://www.annemcallisterart.co.uk/.