Welcome to the blog a Pop Shop regular, artist Anne Byrd. She paints and draws images that really get in your head and trigger the imagination. I am always struck by them and can’t help but turn the pictures over and over in my head. I love that about surrealism, the forever changing concept and personal influences each piece has for every person that sees it.
Please, relax and ponder at her work and learn more about the artist’s journey and take on things…
Please tell us a little about yourself and your artistic background. Where are you from? Where are you now?
I was born in Texas but when I was very young my family moved to California and I lived there until the age of about 10. Then we actually moved back to Houston, but after high school I was accepted to Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio, so I lived there for four years. I’ve always considered Houston my home, however, and returned after graduation.
What’s your creative process like? Do you like to sketch and plan or just wing it?
I tend to do a lot of sketching, but I think even more planning in my head. Sometimes and idea will just come to me out of the blue. I will be inspired by an object or random image that pops in my brain. I also love walking around places like antique stores and parks and seeing what speaks to me. But sometimes I will start with a specific concept or meaning behind the piece and then allow it to sit in the back of my mind for a while and marinate. I find that just letting my brain put the pieces together organically is better than trying to force something stiff and unnatural.
How long might a painting take to complete?
From concept to completion it can take anywhere from weeks to years. Sometimes things go smoothly and I don’t want to leave my drawing table. I’ve actually cancelled plans because a piece was going really well. Other times I hit a snag and I have to put the piece on the back burner before I get so frustrated I want to set my whole studio on fire.
What’s your studio/workspace like?
I think the best way to describe it would be organized chaos. I work from home and the first thing I did when I moved in was pick which room I wanted as my studio and painted it a burnt red color. I find it very energizing yet comforting. I have a lot trinkets and collectibles and odds and ends that I find interesting and inspiring so I like to keep them close to me while I work. Unfortunately, my studio is not that big so things do get a bit interesting when it comes to finding places for everything. Most of the time it’s spilling out into the hallway.
Did you always feel destined to be an artist? Were you ever unsure?
I’ve always loved art. From a very young age I realized I had an aptitude for it. I took every art related course or topic I could get my hands on. I got in trouble constantly because I was always drawing in classes where I wasn’t supposed to. But it wasn’t until I was about 13-14 that I realized I wanted to do art as a career. Before that I had my heart set on being a veterinarian. Eventually though I realized I was pretty horrible at math (and still am) and though I loved sciences like anatomy and biology, chemistry and I were never ever going to be friends. And in the end, I don’t think I could ever really be happy without making art my main focus in life. It really is my passion.
When would you say you developed your painting style?
I think I really got into my own groove after college. In fact, if you look at my stuff while I was in college versus my work now, it’s very different. I learned quite a lot of technique at CCAD that was massively helpful, but I think because I was an illustration major I was always trying to force my style into something more cartoony and quick. That’s just not me. I like realism and detail. I geek out when I see super detailed art that you can tell was painstakingly crafted over time. That’s what I strive for in my work.
What are your favorite art supplies? Are there any that intimidate you?
I’ve tried quite a few mediums but my favorites are always drawing related. I use colored pencils and wax pastels in a lot of my work. Just recently I started using Windsor Newton pro markers and brush markers and I friggin’ LOVE them. I wouldn’t really say there are any supplies that intimidate me, just frustrate the hell out of me. For instance, oil paints. No, just no.
Do you collect anything?
Well, if you looked in my studio, you’d probably assume that I collect everything. I tend to gather objects that I find interesting or I could use for reference later. I have a lot of animal bones, gems, insects etc. hanging out in an old 1920’s curio cabinet in my studio. But as far as things I actually collect on purpose, that would be masks. I love getting interesting masks and hanging them about my place. They all have such unique personalities; it’s like having a dozen different visual stories hanging on your wall.
What makes you happiest in life?
Oh man, where do I start? Art, definitely makes me happy! When I complete a piece I’ve been working on for a while, it gives me a sense of peace that I really don’t find anywhere else in life.
Nature makes me happy. I need nature to reset my brain sometimes.
You know, in reality, so much makes me happy. Surrounding myself with friends and family that I love really makes me happy. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of those around me, and for that I am eternally grateful.