It started around 1998. Alfred shared a studio with Dick Garvey in downtown Anacortes. Each morning he visited the bakery, La Vie En Rose, for coffee. One morning Anne was there. They struck up a conversation about, you guessed it, art. It was when the conversation turned to bicycling, which really started it all. Alfred had owned a bicycle shop back in the day, and Anne had cycled from Anacortes to Bar Harbor, Maine.
A year later, Anne was getting ready for a show at La Vie En Rose and had questions about framing and the rest as they say, “was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.” They had their first “official” date, meaning they started to share a studio together.
“We started sharing a studio, I don’t know if you’d call that a date or not,” Al said.
In 2001 things heated up, between them and their art. They partnered with Mitch Everton and purchased Insights Gallery. Insights was started by Annette Williams. Due to health issues she needed to sell the business and she found the perfect trio to purchase it.
“We had equal things to offer to the business,” Anne said.
Mitch had the business background, Alfred’s background was working with artists, and Anne had the computer skills they needed. Like a three-legged stool they each did what they loved.
“It was a magical time for about six years,” Anne said.
They had over 400 paintings in inventory at any one time, and represented around twenty-four artists. Over the years, Insights Gallery gained popularity and placed over three million dollars worth of art in the homes and businesses of collectors.
“Living and breathing art was natural,” Anne said.
They then the sold the business in 2008. It was time for them to get back into the studio and focus on their real passion—painting. Though the gallery was successful, it was high energy and a demanding mistress.
By now their relationship had grown and their passion for the arts had strengthened their bond.
“We are both passionate about what we are doing, and to share that together strengthens that quality of how we feel about each other,” Anne said. “To do something you love doing with somebody you love, that’s the best.”
To make it as an artist is extremely hard with long hours and requires a partner that understands. They support each other in the pursuit of art.
“When someone you’re with has that same dedication that you have it’s a commonality,” Alfred said.
They still, sort of, share a studio, only now there is a door and a lot of insulation between them. They did it that way so as not to influence the other while working and for when they needed quiet time with their art.
“Listen to your voice within,” Anne said.
Sometimes when they are painting and preparing for a show, each lost in their own space, they are amazed to find they had painted in the same color palette. Totally subconscious, of course.
They have other activities they enjoy together, such as, bicycling, going to plays, going on field trips, traveling.
Anne is involved in meditation and belongs to a French Club. They have found a balance, so when they come back from other areas they are refreshed and ready to paint again.
Anne’s style is considered whimsical and fun. She likes to capture the joy of the day. She became a full-time artist around the year 2000, before that she had always drawn or sketched. She earned a living for a while doing pet and people portraits, but her real love was to paint. She studied at the Academy of Realist Art in Seattle. Then joined the figure drawing group in Anacortes when she moved here in 1997 after teaching in Japan.
What really influenced her art, and still does, is a book by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
Alfred is known for his Impasto and Impressionistic paintings. It encompasses about fifty to sixty percent of his work. The subject which really inspires him to paint is the migrant workers in the Skagit Valley.
Under his pseudo name, he experiments with abstract and expressionist paintings.
He’s been an artist for over fifty-five years. He started out by doing medical illustrations and some sign work. In 1962, in Columbus, Ohio, he opened his first studio. He had attended the Columbus College of Art and Design. He then taught classes at an art school in Chicago.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s when he made the transition to become a professional artist. In 1990 he made the move to Anacortes, WA. He feels that Anacortes really supports the arts and the artists.
Chicago embraced his color palette, New Mexico thought his colors were a bit subdued for their taste, and Anacortes thought they were garish. Washingtonians tend to be drawn to the gray skies and muted colors, but that has changed over time.
Alfred has an alter ego, which he uses when he wants to experiment with his work. Doing so helps him grow as an artist. Anne laughed when asked about her alter ego, she said, “I’m just Anne.”
“The reality for me is art is about the process,” Alfred said. “I love that. Once it’s done, then it’s a product. When I am done with it I’m done.”
When he is close to the process he might see the flaws so he puts it away for a time, then pulls it out to see what it needs. He will either complete it or slash it if he can’t complete it.
“Everybody’s different,” Anne said
Each of them has their own voice, their own style, and their own way of doing things. Alfred paints when he has an idea. He goes into the studio knowing what he wants to do and then works from there. Anne has to be quiet and her mind a blank before she can paint.
Today’s energy is more quiet and inspirational.
“We paint what we enjoy doing,” Alfred said.
“I’ve found a lot of freedom lately working on the aspect of creativity and studying it,” Anne said.
Anne has been teaching creativity workshops over the last year. She is in the process of writing a book, Exploring Creativity in Art and Life and recommends, Quantum Creativity and Kids Design Glass.
“Everything of what is important, is how we are in relationship to something, whether it is a canvas, blank paper, or a conversation with someone,” Anne said.
She is blending art and philosophy. What’s a reaction, a response to something, how was I in a conversation, where did my ideas come from, how do I meet resistance; these are just some of what she works with.
She has found it has helped with her paintings and how she lives her life, so she wants to teach others.
“You live with someone for a long time, and you think you know everything about them,”
But Alfred found out he did not. When he took one of Anne’s creative classes, it hit him that he didn’t know everything and found it enlightening.
“Every choice we make everyday is a creative act” Anne said. “We define creativity in certain activities, such as, paintings, when the reality is all aspects of life is creative.”
Confidence and competence Alfred said comes as you move along in your work. As artist what you are really putting out there is you and it can make an artist feel vulnerable. Confidence comes with experience.
We asked what they most respected about each other?
“Her tenacity and ability to take on a painting and really explore the creative aspects and let’s her mind go free,” I really admire that."
“She’ll be my conscience,” Alfred said.
For Anne, it’s his generosity of spirit.
“His generosity to the community, to others, to life. His amazing quality of saying yes to any idea that surfaces, his open curiosity towards life. I really admire that.” Anne said.
Alfred said that the generosity goes back to those that helped him get to where he is today.
“So give back when you can.”
Thank you to this generous couple and amazing artists for all they give to each other and to the world.
Happy Valentine’s Day!