Anna Oliver moved to the southern Berkshires with her husband Stephan three years ago and was immediately entranced by the ever-changing array of wildflowers that line the roads and fill fallow fields in the warmer months. It reminded her of the mountain meadows that had been a favorite feature of her childhood in northern New Mexico. A wild slope in her own backyard filled with black-eyed susans, clover, wild dill, and innumerable other flowers and grasses.
When Anna first began to paint almost a decade ago, she was initially drawn to the bold color and intricate patterns of light, shadow and color in her Connecticut flower garden, and then, more and more often to subjects that told some kind of a story, often expressed by a human figure suspended mid-action: jumping into a pool, swinging upside-down on a ride at a county fair. In 2019, however, after encountering the exquisite gardenscapes of painter William Nichols, she returned to the subject of flowers and, specifically, the meadows of her new neighborhood. Anna describes herself as a restless person and an impatient artist, but she could fall into a meditative state—through the frame of the painting, as it were—by working in a small area, detail by detail, building color and shape in dashes and layers over time. Fortuitously, this approach proved to be good preparation for the even greater physical and emotional disruption of the Covid pandemic: intense bursts of color, a little at time, until a joyous explosion of intersecting shapes emerges, translating the feast of nature out the back door into a visual feast on canvas.
Anna holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Assembling My Father (Houghton Mifflin/Mariner Books). A series of adult education courses at the New School in New York City with artist Sonya Sklaroff in 2009 introduced her to the wonders of working with oils on canvas, and she has passionately pursued painting ever since. “David’s Chair,” appeared as cover art for Best American Poetry of 2017, and “Consider the Lobster” illustrated her essay “Stan’s Madeleine,” in The Inquisitive Eater. She exhibits in Hudson, NY at the 510 Warren Street Gallery.