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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My 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!
The Joy of Plein-Air Workshop
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!
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
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. 🙂
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.
WOWZERS, I am. Loan away with your beautiful paintings. Just so gorgeous and full of magic! Thank you for sharing it.
Blown away. (Darn autocorrect)
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.
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).
Very expressive and spontanious that came at once in my mind when I saw your work.
Big thinker, Thank you Anna!
Lovely use of light. (K)
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.
You call that a “doodle”? It looks like a finished piece! LOL
Your paintings are really beautiful 🙂 the style reminds me of Georgia O’keeffe’s flower paintings
Beautiful work! You achieve such depth of colour with this medium, really gorgeous!
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…
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.
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.
Beautiful paintings with great highlights. Very colorful
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
Fantastic work. I love it. Following now on Facebook.
My website can be viewed at: http://www.annagalea.com
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.
Those are very pretty!
Very lovely watercolours, great to see a Maltese artist on an international blog!
Wonderful and very inspirational.