Grantham Journal Big Interview: Artist hopes her work will raise cancer awareness

Perfect picture: Annie took up painting again in 2006.
Perfect picture: Annie took up painting again in 2006.
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What started as a simple painting hobby for mum-of-three Annie Samuel, 64, from Newton Way in Grantham, has since become a fully fledged career, which has seen her not only scoop several top awards for her work but also get to showcase her work in galleries, online and in exhibitions across the country. Despite facing her fair share of challenging times, including losing her husband to cancer three years ago, Annie is looking ahead and spoke to the Journal about how she hopes to raise awareness of prostate cancer through her art.

How did your passion for painting begin?

Brave battle: Tony lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2014.

Brave battle: Tony lost his battle with prostate cancer in 2014.

The drive to create art has been part of me since I first picked up a drawing instrument as a child but, as it does, life and my three children, Kathleen, Denise and Paul, took precedence over my time in my early adult years, but I did return to Grantham College in 1982 to take an A level in art. I had my own bespoke furniture design business, which was great, however when I went on a world cruise in 2006, it inspired me to continue my art practice with a more focused approach after attending art classes each afternoon when the QE2 was at sea. A year later I embarked on a six-year, part-time fine art degree at the University of Nottingham.

What have been your main achievements so far?

After graduating in 2013, I was thrilled when one of my pieces, a sketch of me and my sister as children, was accepted for the national Derwent drawing prize. Then last year I was shortlisted from around 2,000 entries for a drawing depicting my childhood on Longniddry beach in Scotland. It was displayed in the Jerwood exhibition and moved from London to Bath and Bournemouth. I’ve also been a finalist in The Derwent Drawing prize in both 2013 and 2016.

What challenges have you faced?

Favourites: 'Good old runners' is one of Annie's favourite pieces.

Favourites: 'Good old runners' is one of Annie's favourite pieces.

I retired from furniture design in 2014 and lost my beloved husband Tony shortly afterwards. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer two months after my graduation in September 2013 and died the following May. It was a short and extremely painful illness. During his illness, we agreed that I would do a painting of his condition as he lay in bed, entitled ‘Under the Covers’ to raise awareness. It can be seen on my webpage. When I am faced with trauma I find it almost impossible to paint, but this solitary painting was the beginning of getting myself back on track. I applied most of the paint with my fingers as I had applied cream to his legs. When you lose someone, you’re left with a massive emptiness but I’ve had a wonderful network of support including family, friends and St Barnabas support group for widows and widowers. I also facilitate our local art group in Colsterworth Village Hall and am currently a member of two bands, The Killburns who play contemporary and Irish music and a quartet called Carrolan’s Cap-Irish /Elizabethan music including a guitar, bass guitar Mandolin and penny whistle, which I play. My mother was Irish and father Scottish so my routes are well and truly Celtic.

Where do you promote your paintings?

Lincolnshire Life recently ran a feature on the success drawn from The Jerwood Drawing prize 2016. On the back of this success, I was contacted by Prima magazine after Crush Photography submitted a series of my images for an article on ‘Women like you’, discussing overcoming challenges and working on successes. The national exhibitions I have been selected for run tours in prominent national galleries around the uk, and this exposure draws people to my website, designed by my very good friend Paul Parris. I work in several mediums including pastel, charcoal, pencil acrylics and oils and have successfully sold some pieces and taken on commissions for portraits. I will also be hosting an evening at the Book Fayre shop in Woodhall Spa on July 6, where I’ll be discussing my current art practices and successes.

n Information: visit www.anniesamuelartist.co.uk

Childhood memories: This piece of Annie and her sister as children was chosen to be shown at the Mall Galleries London for  for the inaugral Derwent Drawing Prize Exhibition.

Childhood memories: This piece of Annie and her sister as children was chosen to be shown at the Mall Galleries London for for the inaugral Derwent Drawing Prize Exhibition.

Award winning: This piece was selected as a  finalist in The Jerwood Drawing prize 2016.

Award winning: This piece was selected as a finalist in The Jerwood Drawing prize 2016.