In the Studio: A conversation with artist Ann Reynolds-Pearl

Posted 1/31/24


Visiting an artist in their studio provides a path to better understand their process and get a more intimate look at their work outside the gallery setting. Ann Reynolds-Pearl is no …

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In the Studio: A conversation with artist Ann Reynolds-Pearl



Visiting an artist in their studio provides a path to better understand their process and get a more intimate look at their work outside the gallery setting. Ann Reynolds-Pearl is no exception. The walls of her home are covered with her work, but her studio, a small building just steps from her home, is where the magic happens. Every corner tells a unique story, and she sits surrounded by objects that influence her work. Amid traditional tools like brushes, canvases, and paints, it’s clear these artistic materials provide a never-ending palette of inspiration for the artist.

Q: If asked to describe your work, what would you say?

A: I have been doing and studying art for most of my life. I started working with clay at age 11 at a local college when my mother took pottery classes, and I was allowed to come to the open studio with her. For my 13th birthday, my mom gave me drawing classes at the Portland Art Museum, sparking my interest in drawing skills, perspective, and the use of different drawing materials.

I love the process of creating art, manipulating different mediums either in a two- or three-dimensional way to create. The process itself is what I find most fascinating, how from an idea I can create something from nothing, and once satisfied, the result means the work is finished. I enjoy being messy, wearing an apron, and immersing myself in whatever medium I am using at the time.

Q: How do you approach capturing details and achieving such a high level of realism?

A: I generally start with an image or photograph I have taken. I edit the image on my computer to the size and scale, printing it out to a size I want to transfer onto a canvas. I trace the outline of the image once onto tracing paper to understand many of the details, then graphite transfer paper is used to draw the images onto the gesso canvas. From this point I start blocking in the images with acrylic paints in many layers of color, trying to recreate the line, shadows, and contours of my images. I refer to a photograph at hand to keep the color and design on track.

Q: What draws you to the specific subjects you choose to paint? 

A: I like bones, because you can imagine what the structure is under the muscle, skin, or feathers. The shapes of many objects, either found or manufactured, intrigue me. The way the light dances off the shape or through a clear prism works to distort, and trying to capture that image inside the reflection challenges me. I enjoy creating still life settings that are complicated, to challenge my skills of observation. With my photographs, just a quick glance at a subject captures an idea, and a moment in time that can tell a whole story.

Q: How do you select and gather materials for your collages?

A: I love bits of images on paper of all kinds, from Chinese advertisements, labels, holy cards, travel, and art brochures, to paper from old Sears catalogs. It’s all so interesting to me. We are bombarded by images every day, all day, usually trying to sell us something. I also like working with other materials like aluminum cans, ribbons, nails, and painted logos to enhance my collages. 

I usually start by cutting out images, not necessarily knowing where the final grouping will take me. Layering of the images is important. Some even get fully covered, others weave through with small portions exposed. By the end I usually have a name or phrase that has helped drive my thought as to what the final image says. That said, the viewer may have another reference point of view. 

Q: Do you ever experience a creative block? Do you work on your art every day?

A: Yes occasionally. I have a very good friend and he says, ”Just going to your studio every day is doing art.” I of course love being in the middle of a painting or project. But making art is work. It’s work I enjoy, but it doesn’t always go as planned. I also know for myself, with collage or ceramics for example, the act of cutting bits of paper or wedging clay can jump start the creative juices and help me get started on a project. It’s like playing piano scales to warm up your fingers.

Q: We spoke a bit about the importance of titling one's work. Do you think that is important? 

A: Titles are important for some work. For me it’s more of a feeling or reference point once the piece is finished. I don’t start with a title. I feel it can help the viewer understand what the art is trying to say … hopefully leading them to their own conclusion.

 Q: How important is it to you to show or sell your work?

A: Showing work is very gratifying to me. I love to share what I’ve made, and selling it is the best complement. It means my work can bring some creative joy to someone else. It feeds my soul and pocketbook too, so I can keep my passion going.

Q: Has your artistic style evolved over the years? If so, in what ways?

A: I learned some basic skills early on in school and have had much of my life to explore and hone those skills over time. Going to museums, galleries, and reading about how other artists work is inspirational and continues my ongoing education.

Q: Do you still work in ceramics? 

A: Doing ceramics for many years and selling them through craft shows and galleries was very fun and fulfilling. But my hands have gotten tired and the need for me to sell that heavy work has gotten harder. I have many times picked up my ceramics and put them down. Every time I do, I start where I left off, then move in another direction with it. I love that I have muscle memory in my hand and skill to work with clay and glazes. I always love going back to it. A hiatus is a good way to collect ideas then reconnect with the medium.

Q: How can we find out more about what you are doing?

A: I have a brand new Instagram page @annpearlarts, which I will be adding more to soon. Please follow me there.


Carolyn Lewis is a serial entrepreneur, artist and community builder happily living and working in Port Townsend. Visit her Facebook Group at Port Townsend Life or Instagram at @linalewisart.