Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Visit with Annick McKenzie , Contemporary Artist with a Passion for Colour

I first encountered her work through a thread on Facebook where art is shared. I found her colors invigorating and was not surprised that her page on FB was called Contemporary Artist with a Passion for Colour.When I checked out her website, it was indeed a colorful experience. She was open to an interview and shares herself here.

Ennyman: When did you first take a serious interest in painting?
Annick McKenzie: My half brother was an artist and my father encouraged me to learn about art when I was young, French painters mostly and together with my mother we went to visit Paris when I was around nine years old. My visit to the Musée du jeu de Paume, which at the time had the greatest collection of impressionist art, was a turning point for me. Color!

After many years of dabbling in using paint, it was only nearly 20 years ago, that the time came when the right teacher appeared to give me the opportunity to discover my courage in trying to paint seriously. She gave me the freedom and confidence to be myself and discover that I have a passion for color.

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge
EN: What is your favorite medium?
AM: My favourite medium now is acrylics..I did use oils but got very frustrated at the length of drying time and the smell of turpentine really upset me..the smell made me physically sick. I was so delighted to discover acrylics. Acrylics are just right for me, amazing colors and fast drying. They are perfect for my impatient temperament.

EN: How large or small are your paintings?
AM: My paintings are mostly medium to large size (60x60cm to 1.50cmx 100cm)..I enjoy painting on very small canvases sometimes but prefer large all depends on the subject, the series, and also of the size of your studio !!!

I use a large easel but painting on the floor is sometimes necessary to accommodate a very large canvas. I also enjoy painting on wood, love the feel and smell of this medium.

The Joy of Life
EN: Can you elaborate on your influences? 
AM: Paul Cézanne,as Henri Matisse and Picasso said, ’the father of us all’ touched me enormously. I think it must have been his style, the way he felt and painted his world. I felt I wanted to discover it, too. After many visits to Provence I also fell in love with his landscape. It makes my heart sing. Also I was so touched by Renoir. His paintings are full of color and ‘joie de vivre’... His paintings make me feel good and hopeful. Vincent van Gogh touches my heart in a very different manner, but how he expresses his life through color is so powerful and humbling. Monet, of course, harmony of color. Gauguin amazes me with his style and use of color.

There are so many color masters to thank for inspiring me to give it a try... Kandsinsky, the German expressionists, the Fauves, Pierre Bonnard. The list is endless..

"An art which isn't based on feeling isn't an art at all. Feeling is the principle, the beginning and the end; craft, objective, technique – all these are in the middle.” Paul Cézanne

EN: What led you to return to your homeland
AM: I left France in my early 20’s to come to England where I met my first husband who was an American citizen living in Canada at the time. I therefore lived in Toronto for a few years, then moved to Manhattan NYC for a few more years. New York City in the 70’s was incredible and I am happy to have known the experience as my husband was working in the music industry.

I came back to the UK, divorced and stayed in England where I married again and have 2 wonderful sons.

I now live in the South of France , in Sainte Maxime in the Var region. My strong feelings of home, in this wonderful and inspiring landscape of Provence, drew me back. My husband and I settled there 17 months ago and we do call it home!

The weather is an important factor, also. Give me the sea, blue skies, sunshine, good food and wine anytime!!! But also as a painter, the light and color are second to none. It is a real joy to live each day in the landscape of my heart. I feel grateful.

Heart Warmer
EN: What are you currently working on ?
AM: I had my first exhibition in September 2012 (38 large paintings) in the Musée de la Tour Carrée in Sainte Maxime... not bad after arriving there a year ago! Now, I am focusing on 2013 ..choosing where to exhibit, being in the landscape with my camera (often my iPhone) to capture those moments when I see a particular color, subject, etc.seeing the beauty of nature everywhere and getting so much joy out of me ideas which will help me to re-create in my is always exciting ..each day, each moment is the beginning of a new adventure ! I am on the road to finding my inspiration, listening to new feelings and developing my art.

EN: Any advice for your artists?
AM: Just listen to your heart, be open, follow your hard and never give up! If one uses Art as a way to inspire others, give them hope, we can feel gratitude to be able to have the opportunity to do just that..

As my Master in Life, Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist philosopher says:

‘Unless we view things with our hearts, we can see nothing. But if we look at the world with a love of life, it will reveal its beauty to us’

To see more of Mckenzie's work, visit


Sue Kington-Smith said...

I have the good fortune to know Annick and her husband, and went to her first exhibition in Sainte Maxime. I was stunned by her expression of landscapes in strong colours - absolutely beautiful. She's a fine photographer too. If you get a chance to see her work, do take it - it will lift your spirit.

ENNYMAN said...

Thanks for the comment and yes, maybe one day the opportunity will come to see her work in person. For now, it's nice to have the internet so artists can share more broadly, even if it isn't the same as in person in real life. Best to you