Thursday, 19 July 2018

Today, we're super excited to bring you a VERY special Artist Feature - our 19th in the series - looking at the incredible Ania Hobson. Suffolk based Ania specialises in portrait paintings and works primarily in oils and, where possible, works from life to capture the movement and characteristics of her subjects. Her interpretation is life-like and traditional and yet with a contemporary feel. We've been big admirers of Ania's work for a long time, and it's wonderful to see this talented Artist making real waves in the industry.

Her piece A Portrait of two Female Painters won the Young Artist Award with the BP Portrait Awards this year and is currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London.  She has also exhibited a self portrait at the Royal Society Of Portrait Painters Annual exhibition 2016, and with the Society of Women Artists at the Mall Galleries in London, 2015. She has had numerous shows, joint and solo, and is presently working towards a major solo portraiture show in London. Ania's paintings hang in Italy, Holland, Germany, Canada and the USA and has paintings on permanent display at the Gallery at Snape Maltings, Suffolk.

Hi Ania. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! Will you tell us a little about yourself and how you started your journey as an artist?
Hello! I studied at the University of Suffolk and then went onto doing short courses in London and the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. I never had the funds to study full time so I had to create funding projects online, creating rewards with my art work in order to study abroad.

Senor Jesus De Toledo

Thom & Suzie
Studying in Florence must have been incredible! Afterall, the city is the very cradle of Renaissance Italy. What was it like? 
The Florence Academy of Art played a huge part in developing my work. It was there that I learnt how to mix skin colours and work from life. They base their techniques on the Renaissance style, but it didn’t necessarily mean they would try to change your style, more to reference traditional ways.

They taught me the basics of painting. I would spend many evenings in the Plaza of the Outside Museum sketching the statues or visiting the Uffizi Gallery, soaking it all in. Working from life really built my confidence up as a portrait painter, and by the end, I found it difficult to paint from a photograph rather than from a living form.

When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
I first knew I wanted to be an artist when I sold my first ever drawing whilst I was still at college! I would draw friends portraits for them, which soon got noticed by others.  It showed me that people were taking an interest in my art and were willing to buy it and own it. Painting will always be my biggest passion so it made sense to take it further.

On the other hand, my style is something that has developed over time, working out what’s best for me and what I find comfortable. As an artist, your style will always develop through inspirations and changes in your life. Picasso is a great example of this. My style has definitely evolved over the years, art is all about evolving and learning as we are constantly changing ourselves.

Self Portrait

Very true! Where do you get your inspiration from?
My influences can stem from a real variety of sources; visiting art galleries, or researching the artists that influence me the most - such as Alice Neel, Kerry James Marshall and Lucian Freud, or even seeing an interesting face on a waiter or when travelling.

And how would you say your personality is reflected in your work?
As well as my paints, my vital tools are my inspirations and impasto. I  like to use beeswax impasto in my work which I find is great for keeping the textures of the brushstrokes whilst allowing the paint to move more, and importantly it also helps matt the paint.

Resting Nude
Do you find that creating portraits of those close to you makes you see them in a different light? Do you prefer creating self-portraits or those of friends and family?
I prefer creating portraits of my family and of myself. Painting close friends and family makes it a lot easier as they are familiar with my style and techniques and wouldn't try to change it for themselves. Painting a portrait is all about how the artist perceives that person through their own eyes.

Do you ever struggle with creative blocks? How do you try to overcome it?
I find that challenging myself with strange perspectives helps. It makes the journey of creating a piece exciting, not really knowing what the outcome would be. I find an interesting perspective can take it away from realism and turn it into something abstract. I now use this to help create a recognisable style.

You’ve won a whole host of awards including the BP Young Artist award, and exhibited across the board at some really special places in the last two years. Has there been one experience/award that particularly stood out to you? 
Winning the Young Artist Award was my first award so this has been my best experience so far! Getting the award has definitely created a lot of interest with my career and with other exhibitions. And with my BP Portrait Award painting A Portrait Of Two Female Painters. I wanted to celebrate female artists and to also portray us in a slightly gender-neutral and not overtly feminine way, showing us how we are seen in the working environment of our studios.
Girl in a big coat

It's been wonderful talking to you. Do you have advice you give to early career artists in the current art world climate? Is there any advice you wish you heard when you were starting off out of art school?
My advice would be to not give up! I know that sounds like a very stereotypical thing to say but in the art world it really matters. A lot of people do struggle and give up with not getting where they want to be and find it hard to take criticism, but by giving up its only making way for the people who do want to take it seriously. Entering a lot of competitions is a great way of getting your work out there as I have found myself. It's a hard journey to take but one of the best decisions I have made.

You can follow Ania on Instagram here, or keep up to date with her exhibitions and works on her website here. 

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