Anna Boulton working on one of her spectacular oil paintings in her studio. | A. Boulton


Anna Boulton is back in Palma and on dry land, for a while anyway. Anna was born to be on the water and to paint.

Her mother was teaching windsurfing in Dubai when she was nine months pregnant with Anna, who was born and brought up in the Middle East before eventually moving to the UK to complete an Honours degree in Fine Arts at Falmouth Art College, and she has become one of the most sought-after artists in the nautical world.

She spent last winter in Antigua and St. Barths, where she was commissioned to paint one of the yachts belonging to Roy Disney of the Disney family, Pyewacket. She was also a crew member on one of the yachts in the famous St. Barths Bucket regatta. And for Anna, sailing and painting have been in her family for generations.

“Both of my parents are sailors and my great uncle was a marine artist for the navy, so I guess painting and sailing are in my blood and I’m so lucky to have been able to have made a career out of combining the two.

“Growing up I was never pressurised into choosing a career; I guess I was left to my own devices. My parents were always very supportive, they never held me back, and after I graduated I managed to secure an internship at the Guggenheim in Venice. It was supposed to have been for just a month but I fell in love with Venice and managed to stay on for four months.

“And now I’m torn between finding a studio and an apartment in Palma for the summer or heading for Newport and holding an exhibition in Rhode Island where I’ve been invited to race and paint. That said, looking ahead to the America’s Cup, which I’ve always been involved in, I may opt to base myself in Barcelona because the regatta is only a year away. And being a New Zealander, I’ve already been painting for the team. I even drew up an emblem for fun and it was so popular it is now going to be printed on T-Shirts for the cup next year. And I would like to hold an exhibition in Barcelona during the America’s Cup and that is going to take time to organise. So, as the free spirit I am, I’ve yet to decide what I’m going to do this summer, but Palma certainly holds a very special place in my heart and it was where I chose to spend lockdown, although I was extremely lucky to have got back here.

“I was in Antigua when the world went into lockdown and had to spend the first six weeks out there. But I eventually managed to get a seat on one of the last supply planes and get back to Palma where I spent a year locked away painting.

“Having grown up in Dubai, I love the warm climate here, and the architecture is wonderful. The Cathedral is so impressive, the local produce is delicious and the restaurants are great and, of course and most importantly, I’ve got the sea and the regattas, be they classic or modern. Just take a look at the design of the new America’s Cup yachts, they are like nothing we’ve ever seen afloat before. But while I’m now able to dedicate myself to painting yachts - I’ve created works of art out of everything from landscapes and seascapes to prize-winning cows - yacht racing is something that really excites me and I think you should paint what you’re passionate about,” she says.

One of her paintings of the Cathedral, which took the best part of two years to complete was bought by a very famous Mallorcan family and Anna was really pleased and proud that the large piece went to a good local home.
Anna has recently been involved with the Superyacht Cup in Palma and is completing a commission for a client in England before moving on to her next project, which could be from painting yachts on to rum bottles or shooting videos of yachts which are for sale.

“The latter is new, but as a creator it’s something I’m really enjoying. It happened by chance. When I’m preparing a commission I try to spend as much time as possible out on the water on the yacht in question taking scores of photographs and videos to help me with the oil painting. However, not long ago I started to put the videos to music and one of the owner’s watched it and asked if could be used to help sell the yacht, so that’s become a new outlet for me, as have the skull rum bottle paintings. I’ve already been asked to create one in Mallorca. They’re proving very popular and they don’t take me long so don’t cost as much as a two-metre oil painting,” she explained.
And Anna’s rough sketches of the yachts are also being framed.

“Before I embark on any painting, I create a series of rough sketches of my idea and show them to the client first. That way I can get the feedback and make sure I am on the right track. I don’t want to take any risks and fortunately, so far, I’ve never had my sketches rejected.
“In fact, on a number of occasions I’ve discovered that the owners have framed the free sketches and also have them on display. But I think word has got out because the sketches for one of my most recent commissions were paid for.
“But at the end of the day, painting the sea has always been a great challenge that I enjoy, and capturing the movement of boats, their lines, sails and angle of the wind, is extremely satisfying.”
Largely working with oil, Anna aims to recreate a specific moment in time. “I want to capture the boat at its best angle.
“They’re works of art in themselves and because I’m a sailor, everything from the sail trim to the heel of the boat must look accurate.

“And I think the fact that I’m a sailor is what attracts owners to me. I’m not pushy. At the regattas I just get on with my work and people can see me painting. If they like what they see, we get talking and more often than not one thing leads to another, a commission. And then I’m out on the water and when at all possible as part of the crew. I do get invited and sit there drinking champagne while the crew gets stuck in, but it’s with the crew I prefer to be. And that way, I get a reel feel for the yacht, I get to understand its essence, how the crew works, the sensation, the sheer joy of sailing the yacht and that helps me a great deal when I get round to painting the yacht. It enables me to really bring the vessel to life.

"I am very technical because of my sailing background and expertise and do my utmost to make sure that the yacht looks her very best, and being out on the water always helps me with my work. It gives me that added inspiration and feeling I need to transmit the excitement of crashing thorough the waves, get a real feel of the yacht, the ever-changing colours of the sea and the waves. One can read so much into it and I do my best to bring that out in my work.

“But there have been times when the owners have asked me to just go with the flow, capture the moment and let the painting be as natural and true as possible. And that’s because they’ve seen me on the water, trust me and they know I understand the yacht and will do it justice,” Anna said.
“I want people to look at a yacht I’ve painted crashing through a wave and think ‘Wow, I want to be on that boat!’.” Her attention to detail means she has been commissioned to produce breathtakingly realistic scenes for boats including Ranger, Rebecca, Leopard and Peter Harrison’s Sojana, and her paintings have been and are exhibited at regattas and in key yacht clubs and hotels around the globe. And now Anna is back in Palma, where she has some prints on show at the Mallorcària wine boutique near Santa Eulalia.

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