We’ve become so accustomed to having beautiful art on display — thanks to the Lehigh Art Alliance — that even a day of bare walls between exhibits feels like a day without sunshine.
The gift of vibrant color and beauty this month comes from Anne Landis, a watercolor artist in Quakertown, where she spent her career as a special education teacher in the district’s schools.
Now retired, Anne is a hospice volunteer at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville and an art therapy volunteer at Good Shepherd Home in Allentown.
Anne’s passion for art began in childhood at Twin Wells, the Connecticut family farm where she spent summers with her grandparents. While tending to her English garden, Anne’s grandmother taught her the names of flowers and weeds, showed her how to tell them apart and arrange the colors, and gave her sketch pads and pastels to make them ‘bloom.’
Not so surprising then that Anne’s specialty is detailed florals. She also paints landscapes, homes and gardens — all in watercolor, all exquisitely. She uses only ‘transparent watercolors,’ saving the white of the paper to show through for the whites in her compositions. She’s inspired by unusual patterns of light, color and shape, and strives to attain a glowing transparency in her work.
Anne’s paintings have been accepted into a long list of juried exhibitions, including at the Philadelphia Sketch Club, Tinicum Arts Festival (award), International Miniature Art Show, and the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers Society of Washington, DC, to name just a few. She has also won many awards in the process.
We asked Anne to tell us more about her inspiration, challenges, and why she ‘often paints with the work updside down’ …
My biggest challenge over the years has been finding quality time to pursue art while managing a demanding teaching career and family caregiving. I began using pastels, then later switched to watercolor, a medium more conducive to quick stops and starts as my caregiving needs increased after retirement.
In recent years, I began painting tiny miniatures as well as larger landscapes in order to enter juried exhibitions. I like to alternate different subject matter in order to stay excited about each new project. I am proud to have had my work accepted and to have won awards at various events.
The book ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ taught me to practice seeing and balancing positive and negative spaces and tones in every composition. I always begin with my own color reference photos and detailed drawings. I often paint with the work upside down, which enables gradual adjustment of patterns and tones to achieve balance. I use only Arches watercolor blocks. Watercolor is very unforgiving, but this paper allows some ‘lifting’ as needed to minimize mistakes.
I believe art feeds the soul. I often listen to opera and classical music while I work. I paint because I love the total concentration and peace the process brings. Of course, there are frustrations and stresses while the work takes shape, but persistence brings a well-earned sense of satisfaction as the painting progresses. Practice of this routine daily has helped me organize and enjoy my time at home during the pandemic.
ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.
Visit the ART@EPL page to see all the artists who have led workshops and exhibited work at the library as part of ART@EPL.