EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONISM: Anna Pottier Paints with Humor and Vibrancy
-By Ted Scheffler
Dark humor, saturated colors and originality - those are just a few aspects of Anna Pottier-Hickman’s art, which she creates at Anna Pottier Studio.
“My art resists labeling,” says Pottier. “Let’s say it is semi-abstract: Emotional Expressionism. Is that a thing? For me, a cowboy boot on yellow iron is exactly that, but what I try to express also is the mood of a thing, showing how objects have their own aura, their place, if we but pause to look. Pieces like ‘It’s Such a Strain’ or ‘The Clam Before the Storm’ are laced with dark (but never unkind) humor.”
Although she mainly creates oil paintings, the self-taught Pottier also dabbles in photography, as well. “My works reflects an unusually varied background, and is quite free of trends,” she reflects. “Refreshingly so, if I may say. I depict whatever stops me in my tracks, be it a landscape, a meaningful still life, or an idea – and let my imagination go to town with saturated color and unexpected perspectives.”
Creating an art-based business has been a long and winding road, as Pottier explains. “Going way back to the 1980s and early 90s in Canada, I was the wife of and amanuensis to the poet Irving Layton for close to fourteen years. After that life-altering, amazing experience, I supported myself by working in offices. The age difference had led to an amicable but wrenching separation in 1995. Words were poor things to describe how I felt, so I began to teach myself how to paint later that year.
Eventually, I became an executive administrative assistant to pay the rent, but Montreal began to feel too small. By age 49, I used my last savings and took off with a backpack on a trek through 17 states over a two-month span. Got back to Montreal; looked up YouTube videos of places I’d been; stumbled on a community of truck drivers and their videos. One was ‘Trikmitruk’, a heavy-haul transport driver. Which led to many emails and hours of Skype, and my third trip to Utah was me driving a 10’ U-Haul, solo, from Montreal. We [her husband Grant and Anna] were married in August of 2010.”
“In 2015, after I’d completed my memoir, “Good As Gone: My Life with Irving Layton” (Dundurn Press, Toronto) I was asked by my husband’s company if I wanted a job. So I got a Commercial Drivers License and learned, nervously, how to drive a water truck. That’s what I’ve been doing each summer. It’s what keeps me in paints and canvas. I am fortunate to be laid off during the winter. That’s when I paint.”
When describing how Utah influences her art, Pottier says “I’ve been struck dumb by
the natural beauty here. My photos of the Spiral Jetty or say, ominous storm clouds over the Timpanogos (where I was doing dust control in Lindon) are spectacularly, uniquely Utahn.”
As it turns out Made in Utah was critical to Pottier launching her Studio. When asked how her art-as-business idea occurred to her, she says “It was the logical next step. By happenstance, I found the Made In Utah website promoting their August fair. To my surprise, they’d just added additional booth space. I had no previous art fair experience, no booth shot, NO BOOTH, so I took a chance.”
"I was accepted, and scrambled to get a tent, table, grid walls, have prints made, greeting cards printed, etcetera. It made sense to take it to the next level and establish myself as a business with a tax ID. In any business, one has to take oneself seriously, otherwise others may not appreciate what you are aiming for.”
Pottier gives big credit to her husband for making Anna Pottier Studio possible, saying emphatically “NONE of this, not my becoming an American citizen, not my publishing my memoir (which is dedicated to Grant), not my learning to drive a water tanker, not my getting back to painting, could have happened without his unequivocal support. He lets me be me.”
Anyone interested in seeing and/or purchasing art from Anna Pottier can visit www.annapottier.com for prints and any inquiries. Looking toward the future, Pottier envisions where she might be in five years: “In my art studio, now a dilapidated 40’ x 20’ chicken coop and stable, being nothing but creative all year long. My most fervent hope, aside from people discovering my work and becoming collectors, is to build my studio from the proceeds of my art. If you dream it, it’s not a nightmare, if I may misquote Theodor Herzl.”