Annie Sloan’s last book Annie Sloan Paints Everything has been out barely a year, but she is already directing her mind towards new projects, expanding the range of surfaces she experiments on with her brand’s colours even further.
WEAREME.FASHION had the honour to entertain a conversation, at her headquarters in Oxford, with this British authority in decorative painting. Mrs Sloan talked to us about all the shades of her creative life, and gave us some tips on how to make our own realities more colourful.
Annie Sloan is responsible for what we’d define as a creative business. In her headquarters, the world-renowned business woman can be seen sitting at her desk in front of her computer, but merely minutes before this, she was playing the role of the artist, standing in front of her work table, experimenting with her palette, and entrusting to her sketchbook whatever visions formed in her mind.
She recalls her life being about the visual arts, and particularly colours since a very young age and even then she knew she wanted to work with them. Every day she is painting and experimenting, and if she is not, she is thinking about it, searching her surroundings for the perfect shade.
Her work ethic is about the sharing of media of personal expressiveness. She is an illuminated artist on that matter as well. To her, working with colours is no elite business, at least, not in her mind. “Some people are intimidated by taking brushes with their own hands, by hand painting. I think that is because they were one time too often told ‘NO, you are doing it wrong’ by teachers at school.” she says.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve done things which were awful. I have experimented (with) things that didn’t work!” If professionals are allowed to make mistakes, why shouldn’t anyone else be?
She can just tell when people are discouraged because of everything turning out brown and ugly when mixing colours. Annie Sloan makes it her goal to guide people in a sort of “Education towards colours”, providing all the necessary information, without setting binding rules. “The people I help are on a journey, and each on a different one.” she continues “I make no rules, but I provide a lot of guidelines.”
She has worked hard to ensure her paints provide the most adaptable media, for both first timers and professionals. “I help people with colour, and I make it very simple. I only have 36 colours, and I tell you how you can mix it, how you can lay it. It’s simple, but there’s a rich story, a lot of things that you will be able to do. You can do anything.”
Of course, if you ask her if you can paint the outside of your boat with her decorative products, she will give you a polite shake of the head and label that as the silliest request she has ever heard, but anything else is pretty much an affirmative and resounding “Yes!” in response to what you can do with her paints.
“If you want to be creative, you will find it in there.” Annie Sloan claims. Everyone can adapt her versatile products to his/her own unique talents and attitudes. “Some people start painting, and it’s like therapy for them.” she declares “I get a lot of e-mails from people saying how amazing it is, that they’ve been painting, and before they had very little confidence, and now they feel they can paint anything, they feel creative!”.
Her creative eye never stops working either. She looks to the 18th century European grand painters, the richest tonally and most technically sophisticated. She also draws inspiration from the revolutionary and blunt colours of the beginning of the 20th century. However, she doesn’t disdain the tribal allure of the earthy taints of Africa either, drawing from Picasso’s palette and from her own travels to South Africa and Ethiopia.
Every time she regards her last project as her best, because she cherishes the sensation of newness, freshness and renovation. This sensation, this aura as it were serves as a muse for inspiration flowing through her and guiding her toward her next project. Textiles are her new frontier of experimentation, due to the multiple sensory experiences they are able to offer.
Some people may need an extra little push to be convinced, but in the end, expressiveness, is indeed, quite colourful!
Cover photo: Annie Sloan