Anna Booth has always had a gift, I remember watching her in awe as a first grader during our watercolor painting and pastel drawing sessions at our Rudolf Steiner Waldorf School. Her artistic ability was innate, and the level of sophistication with which she created art at such a young age was always an inspiration for me. In fact, I have a painting she gifted me on my desk as I write this. We crossed paths in Santa Fe, New Mexico last year where she has set up residence as an artist, and it was like no time had passed at all. I loved having coffee with her and hearing about her life as an artist. And I thought you would too! I think this will serve as inspiration for all of you creatives out there. For more inspiration, be sure to check out the rest of our “Coffee With” series.
Coffee With: Artist Anna Booth:
You have always been an amazing artist, from the very moment I saw you put crayon to paper in first grade. When do you think you knew you wanted to become a professional artist?
First off, you’re very kind! I remember in grade school, classmates repeatedly asking if I would be an artist when I grew up, and I think I’d say something like, yes probably, with a little uncertainty only because I didn’t know what it meant really. But at the same time some certainty, because it was the right and natural path for me, there really wasn’t any question.
What has been your best moment on this journey?
I think of the mentors, professors, and professional artists who have made a huge difference to me over the years, there are many. More recently since I’ve been here in Santa Fe, I’ve come to really cherish the relationship I have with Landfall Press, a fine art publisher. I’ve worked there some, and was a bit of an anomaly because I’m not a printmaker, but the experience allowed me to help with and handle lots of stellar fine art editions. The owner, Jack Lemon, has an incredible vision, and they’ve worked with an impressive lineup of artists. I consider Landfall as my art family here, and feel very lucky to have that inspiration and support.
You went to a Rudolf Steiner Waldorf School which I imagine was a very nurturing place to express your creativity. Will you tell us more about that learning philosophy and how you think it influenced you?
The way that I currently approach my paintings is very much influenced by my Waldorf education. I remember how in grade school we would be encouraged to let our impressions of the natural world which we had just experienced on a nature walk or during recess earlier that day, come forth in our paintings. I still tend to paint landscapes in that way, not a direct translation from what I see or a photo, but instead a feeling or expression of a certain landscape, time of day, or quality of light, from my mind.
Why did you choose to move from New York to Santa Fe?
A close childhood friend and fellow artist was living out here and encouraged me to join her, one visit and I was sold. The open landscape, clean air, and quality of light, are draws. There’s a history of artists being pulled out to this Northern New Mexico landscape, famously Georgia O’Keeffe.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I balance a day job and working for myself in my studio. I’m lucky to have a lot of flexibility in making my own schedule. It’s a flexibility that I didn’t have in New York. I’m able now to put more and more focus on my art career. So, my days vary, but I’m pleased to be spending more of them in my current beautiful studio.
What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned about combining your creative life with a business sense?
It’s really only very recently that I’ve been ready to share my art with the world, or with an audience beyond my immediate friends and family. I’ve just taken down my first solo show, which was part of my current artist residency. Since showing and sharing your art, means really showing yourself, it’s a very personal journey. I think authenticity and being true to yourself is the key…if you show up in that way, I believe the sales, and connections will happen naturally. You do have to keep knocking on doors, just like in any business.
Where do you get your creative inspiration?
Everywhere, the little things each day, a particular shadow, a tumbleweed, the layered and chipping paint on my studio floor. I’m always looking and snapping photos of what interests me.
If you could paint a piece for any one person who would it be?
That’s a great question. I’m not sure what the subject matter would be, but I’d have to say my older sister, because she’s always been very supportive of me as an artist. She’s an artist herself.
Describe your creative process, are you very structured and disciplined or do you create when you’re in the mood?
Things certainly seem to flow more freely sometimes, and then more slowly other times, but a favorite professor in college told me that showing up regularly in the studio is key, no matter how you’re feeling. You can’t wait to be in the mood, you have to show up, even if you end up staring at the canvas, or the paper. I think he caught me on a day when I was scratching my head in my senior studio at Pratt Institute, not quite knowing where I was headed. It might seem kind of obvious, but his advice has always stayed with me.
What are you reading now? Or what is the book that taught you the most?
I’d actually have to say that the picture books of my childhood influenced me the most. Being a visual person, I’ve always loved beautiful illustrations that help to tell a good story. I have many picture books from my childhood still, and collect new ones based especially on the artwork. I’m scheming with a childhood friend right now about a book that she’ll write and I’ll illustrate. It will be a joy to do, so I hope we see it through!
Are you a morning or night person?
I’m more of a morning person, and like to work during regular 9 to 5 hours.
What is the best advice you were ever given?
I guess what I’ve already mentioned, showing up to the studio, or wherever you create, regularly, no matter how you’re feeling. Showing up and committing to yourself and your work in that way.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first set out to pursue your art as a vocation?
I guess I wish I had heard more artist’s stories before I left art school. I felt pretty lost and overwhelmed when I graduated. I may have had a better understanding of how, like the work, the career path is a very creative and individual one, with no one way to go about it.
What advice would you give a young person starting out with visions of becoming a professional artist?
I mentioned authenticity, which I think is important. If you can find your unique voice and approach, that will be most interesting to your audience and subsequently most successful. Be yourself.
What projects are you working on right now that you’re most excited about?
Coming off of my recent show which was mostly abstract, calligraphic drawings and paintings, I’m looking forward to working more realistically for a bit. It feels like getting back to the basics, and will lead me to the next larger body of work. I’m looking forward to figuring out what’s next.