GUEST DOODLEWASH: Breathing Spirit Into Your Art

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of pink flower

My name is Anna Galea and I’m from Malta (follow me on Facebook and visit my website!). I’ve been painting for over thirty years, using charcoal, pastels, oils and acrylics – but my preferred medium is watercolour.

I have always been fascinated with watercolour. It has certain magical qualities no other painting medium can offer – nothing beats its translucency and immediacy. It offers an exciting, precarious balance between accidental and carefully-planned art.  The trick is to learn to ‘listen’ to the painting and react.  I find that when I accentuate and exaggerate what strikes me in what I’m painting – that’s when the magic takes over.

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of white flower

“Watercolour painting is like a chess game – often you need to anticipate the next move.”

Basics first

As a student, I was advised not to take up art as a main subject because in those days it was hardly possible to work as a full-time artist – something I’ve always regretted. And I ended up working in an office.

Even so, I was always drawing and painting at every opportunity and eventually, I am glad I made the life-changing decision to take up painting seriously. I was fortunate enough to have the full backing of my husband and children.

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of flowers and plants

I attended Art School as well as various painting workshops and the more I painted, the more I realized how important it was to keep on polishing my painting skills to be able to let go and ‘create’ my own art. I supplemented this with a Bachelors Degree in History of Art and Archaeology and a Masters Degree in Creativity and Innovation.

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of men fishing - "Great Expectations"

“Great Expectations”

Breathing Spirit into my art

I find that another key factor in creating good art, is knowing the subject you are painting well, through and through: If you are painting a figure/portrait – get to know the person; if you are painting a flower – get to feel it, smell it, know more about it; if you are painting a landscape – walk around a bit and get the feel of the place… and so on.

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of leaves

After many years perfecting watercolour skills, I have now developed a special relationship with the watercolour medium. I have learned to react to what it tells me and subconsciously exploit its translucency to create a type of art that no other medium can produce. I am now producing strong watercolour art as large as 150cm x 130cm (59in x  51in), figurative as well as abstracted. I feel this need to immerse myself into larger artwork – which is very unusual in watercolour – so the viewer is even more drawn into my world.

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of water

I strongly believe in establishing a philosophical dialogue between my paintings and the viewer. I am an optimist. My art is a form of escape – from the violence and sadness constantly reported in the news, into the harmonious realm of vibrant transparent paintings of colour and light.

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of flowers and leaves

I feel that an artist cannot remain static – we have to experiment, create and push boundaries. My art now harnesses the exciting powers of the watercolour medium to create translucent large abstractions. These compositions are derived from nature, challenged by my painting experiences in mountains, forests, deserts, gardens and the sea.

Doodlewash - #WorldWatercolorGroup Watercolor by Anna Galea of leaf

Exhibiting, Workshops and Events

I’ve had several solo exhibitions in my home country Malta, and I’ve also exhibited my works in Paris, Rome, Fabriano, Brussels, Tunis, Adelaide, Melbourne, and more recently in Dubai where I have been residing for the last three years or so.

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In Malta, I have a large studio/gallery and in Dubai, I am also conducting art workshops in Alserkal Avenue – the art hub in Dubai.

Doodlewash - Studio of Anna Galea

My Studio in Malta

Doodlewash - Portrait of Anna GaleaMy next major event is heading a painting holiday with ARTISTours in Croatia.

So, all in all, my art is not just an intimate means for personal expression – my art also creates opportunities for me to visit other countries, meet artist colleagues, make new friends, and absorb new experiences!

Anna Galea
The Joy of Plein-Air Workshop

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Featured Artists
  1. TextileRanger 7 years ago

    Who would think you could be stopped in your tracks by a painting of vegetables? I really love your painting of artichokes and bok choy (maybe it’s kohlrabi?). I’m not sure of the names but the beautiful deep tones got my attention.

    Also I appreciate your advice about accentuating and exaggerating what strikes you in a work — that is good advice to apply to craft work too!

    • Anna Galea 7 years ago

      Thank you Textileranger! It’s kohlrabi, which is quite a common vegetable in Malta. The deep tones I achieve by laying several washes of pigment with a soft brush over the dried area (otherwise the underlying paint comes off and you end up with a muddy result)… it’s all about applying the right amount of pigment with the right amount of water at the right time. This might sound daunting but don’t be discouraged – comes easy with practice!
      About accentuating what strikes me…… before I start painting my subject, I study it, think about it, sketch it (even just one or two tiny 3-minute rough sketches) and then decide and reflect on what strikes me most. I then exaggerate what I relate to – sometimes by lighting it up, or by eliminating other irrelevant details, by making the dark shades darker, etc. I try to “un-think” conventional ways of interpreting a subject, free myself from the usual inhibitions, and take the plunge into making a composition of my own

      • TextileRanger 7 years ago

        I think you do a fantastic job, and I appreciate you being so open and sharing about the techniques that make your work sing!
        And I have eaten kohlrabi, but when we get it here the leaves are all chopped off and only the bulb is sold, so I wasn’t sure. 🙂

  2. creatingincolors 7 years ago

    I have to repeat the previous poster – your creations stopped me in my tracks. If I didn’t know I was looking at watercolor paintings, some of them would have me questioning if they were photographs. Your work is stunning and I look forward to seeing more.

  3. Teri C 7 years ago

    WOWZERS, I am. Loan away with your beautiful paintings. Just so gorgeous and full of magic! Thank you for sharing it.

  4. Teri C 7 years ago

    Blown away. (Darn autocorrect)

  5. brushparkwatercolors 7 years ago

    Great watercolors and very intersting to read, Anna. I believe it must be pure magic to see your works in full size – the pictures shown here probably can only give a vague idea of it. Thanks for sharing here… I did already visit your website and found it very inspiring. Your ´abstractions ´ are my personal favorites there.

    • Anna Galea 7 years ago

      Thank you ….. the watercolours shown on this page are quite large – mostly 56x76cm (22×30 inches). The second painting up from the slide show is actually 90x130cm (36×51 inches).

  6. Margriet Bierens 7 years ago

    Very expressive and spontanious that came at once in my mind when I saw your work.
    Big thinker, Thank you Anna!

  7. memadtwo 7 years ago

    Lovely use of light. (K)

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 7 years ago

    Anna, your art is stunning. I caught my breath at the painting of that first rose, and then each subsequent image gave me pause. I l love the way you use such vibrant colors and mix abstract and detailed images. Your story is wonderful. You’re quite an adventurer, both in art and in travel.

  9. amusingword 7 years ago

    You call that a “doodle”? It looks like a finished piece! LOL

  10. Liv 7 years ago

    Your paintings are really beautiful 🙂 the style reminds me of Georgia O’keeffe’s flower paintings

  11. Art We Wonderful 7 years ago

    Beautiful work! You achieve such depth of colour with this medium, really gorgeous!

  12. M. L. Kappa 7 years ago

    Lovely work, Anna, and interesting tips. I love it that you work on such large sizes – I’ve only seen this done by Francesco Clemente before in watercolor. It inspires me to try…

    • Anna Galea 7 years ago

      Go for it! ….. you can find on the market 300gsm watercolour paper in rolls 60 inches x 10 yards. You would need to cut it at the desired size, wet it and stretch it first.

  13. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Beautiful and stunning. Love seeing the flexibility of the medium and the seamless way you blend abstract and realism…magic. Wonderful and informative post, thank you so much for sharing your spirit and talent.

  14. Beautiful paintings with great highlights. Very colorful

  15. YesterdayAfter 7 years ago

    Thank you so much Anna for sharing your beautiful Art and creativity! Your work is lovely and very inspiring! Is nice to know and see on your website your large scale watercolor paintings I am fascinated and I would love someday to try. <3

  16. waynejacques 7 years ago

    Fantastic work. I love it. Following now on Facebook.

  17. iniyaal 7 years ago

    Beautiful beyond words. Your art work is very poetic. I am about to switch my 13 year career and take up art, which has always been my cherished dream. Your paintings are inspirational. Thank you for the information you have shared here on your painting technique and medium.

  18. Arsty Birdy 7 years ago

    Those are very pretty!

  19. cjwaterfield 6 years ago

    Very lovely watercolours, great to see a Maltese artist on an international blog!

  20. Wonderful and very inspirational.

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