Meet the Maker: Annie Sloan

Meet the Maker

As dedicated colour-lovers, we’ve long been admirers of the wonderful Annie Sloan. We sat down with her to find out a little more about what makes her tick…

As dedicated colour-lovers, we’ve long been admirers of the wonderful Annie Sloan. Author, colour expert, artist and designer – there’s not much in the creative field that Annie hasn’t turned her hand to.

Her revolutionary Chalk Paint has inspired thousands of people across the globe to pick up their brushes and transform forgotten furniture into beautiful decorative pieces that can bring character and personality to living spaces.

We’re delighted that Annie will be joining us on Saturday 25th February at our Haymarket Hotel to host a one-day Creative Workshop on the Art of Colour. Ahead of this, we sat down with Annie to find out a little more about what makes her tick…

Tell us a bit about what you do day-to-day?

I paint, make colours, write books and design! I run my company Annie Sloan Interiors from my Oxford HQ. I am very hands-on, and when I’m not travelling around the world visiting my stockists, I’m in the workshop every day. I create new paint colours and finishes, write books and my bookazine The Colourist, create designs for stencils and decoupage papers, direct photo and video shoots and chat to my customers on Instagram.

Tell us a little bit about your early career?

I did a degree in Fine Art at Croydon School of Art (where one of my contemporaries was Malcom McLaren, who went on to manage the Sex Pistols). An MA in Fine Art at Reading University followed and then I lived in an artist’s collective in East London and painted murals for a living.

It was there that I started learning about pigments, paint and different paint techniques. That led me to write my first book, The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques. I’ve since published 26 books on paint effects, colour, and interior design!

How did Annie Sloan paints come about?

I started teaching paint techniques and soon realised there was a gap in the paint market which led to me launch Chalk Paint. It captured people’s imaginations globally, and my company was born. Over 30 years later, I am still making paint in my factory in Oxford, where we remain a proud family-run business.

Who or what inspires you? 

Art, going to art galleries and art books mainly! I also love looking at architecture and the colours of old buildings. In New Orleans I recently spent a day drawing and painting all the wonderful colourful combinations on the houses there.

Travelling to different countries is a major source of inspiration. I have travelled all over the world and always come back with sketchbooks full of ideas.

Where did you first find your creative inspiration? 

I was born in Sydney to a Fijian/Cuban mother and an art loving Scottish father. He had paintings on all his walls, lots of books about artists and I was also dragged around art galleries all the time, so I was surrounded by art from an early age. But, it wasn’t until we moved to England when I was 10 that my love of drawing started.

I have a vivid memory of my father taking me to an artist friend’s house. I was mesmerized by the sight of him standing at an easel painting. It was this encounter that first gave me the inspiration to start drawing, which is where it all began.

Where do you like to work and why? 

I have a studio at home in Oxford and a beautiful old house in France where I love to paint in the summer. Once I’m there I find it easy to be creative, but I need peace and quiet.

When travelling, I always take sketch book so I can draw and paint when I’m away. I have a wonderful portable palette of paints I bought from a museum store that always travel with me.

Where are you dreaming of visiting this year?

This year I’m planning to travel to Athens by train, via Budapest and Bucharest. I try to reduce my carbon footprint by travelling by train whenever I can. Last year my husband, David, and I travelled from Oxford to Sicily by train with just a backpack each. I loved the freedom it gave us, and the slow train journeys gave me time to look out of the windows and watch the countryside roll past.

What is your favourite colour combination?

It is always the last one I saw! I do have some good old favourites though – blue and brown, blues and green, and pink and orange. But the colours I love change all the time, depending on where I’ve been or what I’ve seen. I’m not led by trends. My colour combinations are much more likely to be inspired by a 20th century British painting or the faded colours of the backstreets of Sicily.

When are you happiest?

In the zone and painting. Without a doubt.

Do you have any tips for people wanting to discover their creativity?

Look at art and learn. Observe shape and tone. Draw or paint and just do it without thinking too much. Plan but be prepared to change those plans all the time. Don’t get too involved in detail – think big picture. Try to push the boundaries. Don’t worry if it’s a disaster, you can always paint over it!

What made you choose to collaborate with Firmdale Hotels for this workshop?

I totally and utterly love Kit Kemp’s colour and design style. I also love the way her style is not too serious. Kit is also such a wonderful magnetic personality who is so good at supporting the arts and especially independent up-and-coming makers. I find that so refreshing. She’s brilliant at bringing creative people together and I love that!

Annie’s Creative Workshop, The Art of Colour, takes place on Saturday 25th January. To find out more and book tickets, click here.