About the Artist

Anne-Catherine Pillips
About the artist

Exhibition details

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In her own words


I work mostly with oil paint on canvas. When I start a painting I like to get rid of the white canvas as quickly as possible. I often premix a group of colours, usually based on two complementaries, red and green, blue and orange or yellow and purple. I avoid too much white at this stage. I will paint, both straight from life and from drawings. If working from a drawing I will often turn it upside down. This helps me to get a feel for the geometry in a painting, to find patterns and balance the shapes. And then, more often than not, I will continue to work on this painting in layers of paint leaving the paint to dry in between times, always trying to keep a balance between the narrative and the structure; as well as following my instincts, experimenting and being willing to wipe it all off. I am aware that change is inevitable and mostly good. I allow myself to do things differently often, and to be surprised by the results.

Working so much alone, I have to be my own critic, I have to try to come at things unexpectedly, so as to surprise myself. If I am aware of my concentration drifting, I stop. The greater part of the reason I paint is for the periods of concentration and absorption, I can only hope that the end result is a thing of interest and possibly even of beauty. I do aspire to this.

Whilst working on a group of paintings I turn endlessly to the work of other painters. At present I am looking at Emile Nolde, Stanley Spencer and Carel Weight. I spend almost as much time looking at pictures in galleries and in books as I do painting. My influences at present are those just mentioned, but the list of past and continuing influences is very long. Bonnard and Vuillard are two very great favourites, Goya, Rembrandt, Rubens, Breughel, Bacon, Freud, Auerbach, Hockney, Lowry , Kossof, Roualt, Soutine, Hopper, Van Gogh, Matisse... the list is almost unremittingly figurative. I can enjoy abstract work but I miss a narrative, I miss people.

I studied at Camberwell School Of Art then worked as a waitress and shop girl (art supplies and National gallery) for many years, alongside painting. I had many wonderful fellow waitresses as models.

Marriage and children followed, but still I always found time to paint. To begin with still lives that would await me in my studio; and then as my boys went to school I worked for many years on the themes of domesticity; my life then (and now).

A theme that I have returned to recently and will no doubt do so again. All those little things, folding and ironing and washing up, changing sheets, carrying baskets of washing up the stairs, chopping carrots, putting things into cupboards; they are so much the underpinning of family life.

I then got out of the house and spent some time drawing in two different places. I was permitted to sit and draw young girls learning the disciplines of ballet on the one hand and more mature women who met to embroider on the other.


As a result of these drawings I began work on a series of soft ground etchings. Learning about printing was a joy.

I was driving to Hastings on one of those very gloomy days in early January. The thought of renting a studio in Hastings just suddenly popped into my head. So, well away from home now, I rented a wonderful studio in Hastings. I love routine and quickly established one. I would get to the studio at 9am, put the heating on, and then set off with my sketch book, even in the pouring rain. An hour, sometimes longer, walking and stopping to draw the odd sea gull, or boat or fisherman etc. Then I would return to the studio to paint, often with a 'pain au chocolat' to have with my coffee. 1 o'clock would find me in a local cafe with the crossword and a bowl of soup. These were very happy days.

I then returned to work from my studio at home, where I still am. I go away more often to draw and to paint, to Norfolk, Cornwall, Suffolk, France and more recently to Nepal.

And when the anemones and the primroses and the bluebells begin I cannot resist the temptation to set up my easel in their midst and savour just being there.

I am so fortunate to be a painter.