It’s not a question of when Ann Marie Webb began to think of herself an artist, but how she came to be a painter. A transition that occurred during a stage in life when she was able to take back time for herself, returning to study art and completing an MFA in Painting at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin (2014).
”When my children became a bit more independent, I went back to education and started to search for my voice as an artist. Painting didn’t seem as relevant at the time. I ran from painting and tried everything other than paint! Photography, sculpture, installation… But of course, it always came back to paint. I think it was always there. I just had to dig at it. Painting takes a long time to percolate. You have to be in it for the long haul”.
Since finishing her studies, Ann Marie’s career as a painter has flourished. Her work is recognisable for its fluid, dramatic style. Favouring to work at scale, Ann Marie effortlessly injects movement and kinetic energy onto the canvas. Her current studio in Wicklow is located within an old cow shed; the ceilings are low and flowers bloom around the entrance.
“My first ritual when I arrive into the studio is to change into my uniform. As soon as it’s on, I am focused. At the moment it is an old pair of crocs and a boiler suit. I always envy artists who can wear an apron and keep clean, but not me. I tend to use all of my body when painting as I usually paint on a large scale”.
The fleeting moments of daily life feed into Ann Marie’s practice, inspiring the flow of her compositions, her selected painting techniques and desired colour palettes.
“It is impossible to create in a vacuum. Sometimes what influences my work only comes to light in retrospect. Influences can happen anywhere; as I walk or talk to other people. Artists are like magpies. We are always on a constant search for inspiration. That makes the act of everyday life, the real tool box or palate of any artist. Sometimes I see the corner of a room or light hitting a wall. Sometimes there is a shot on a screen where light is abstracted and colours are heightened. Dismantled compositions that reveal chaotic gestures, drama, and antagonistic movement”.
Influences from the Baroque period are clearly seen in Ann Marie’s work too. She cites Caravaggio’s ability to create drama and movement and Bernini’s sculptures that wrestle with their surrounding space. More contemporary sources of inspiration come from Cecily Brown and Albert Oehlen for their use of scale and mark making, along with Jackson Pollock, who reminds Ann Marie “of the energy that is possible through the use of bodily application of paint”.
Ann Marie begins each painting spontaneously, weaving and layering different narratives onto the canvas. The initial raw sienna background becomes covered with layers of paint and it slowly starts to tell a story.
“I decide on where to start and give myself a daily mission to complete. And then I break into the paint! Sometimes the mission goes south and is disregarded and something else happens. I find I have to be open to failure and letting go of outcomes. I can have a whole day of things not working out and right at the end something surprising happens, and sometimes it doesn’t“.
“Sometimes, I cover areas with paint hiding what’s underneath. Other times I rub paint away revealing what had been invisible. This is how a story is built up. Each mark contradicting what came before it. I keep making marks, creating spaces which eventually become form. I usually have an idea of what I want to achieve which quickly gets replaced with another version over and over again until it just says its own thing. So it’s really about letting go”.
Big thanks to Ann Marie for taking the time to share some insight into her practice and studio life as a painter!
We have a number of Ann Marie’s original paintings and limited editions hanging on the gallery wall, and you can find her full collection here.