Anna Boulton 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.
Today, Anna, whose family tree is full of artists and sailors, spends her life as a full-time artist touring the world painting yachts, mainly classic yachts, at all of the top regattas, hence why she is currently in Palma completing a number of commissions before heading out to Antigua for the winter sailing regattas and where she has had a studio for many years.
She admits she is extremely lucky being able to make a living by combining her two great passions in life - sailing and painting - although she is rather jealous of some of her works of art because they are housed in luxury properties and yachts around the world which most people could only dream of owning.
Having created works of art out of everything from landscapes and seascapes to prize-winning cows, Boulton is now focused on painting her passion. “Yacht racing is something that really excites me and I think you should paint what you’re passionate about,“ she says.
“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 in 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.
“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.
She has also been commissioned for prizes at top regatta. This year, she was invited by the Club de Mar in Palma to be the artist in residence for the Classic yacht regatta.
“That was a wonderful opportunity. I had an exhibition and I received a really good response from the local press, not to mention my fellow sailors. I also got to go out on the water, which was amazing. I never miss an opportunity to race on a classic yacht and now I have established myself on the circuit, I am never short of invites.
“And that 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,“ she told the Bulletin this week at her Palma studio at Stick No Bills in the capital.
“I guess painting came naturally to me. I think it first dawned on me when I was seven. I was in New Zealand, where my father comes from, for a while. One day I drew a seagull and was pleasantly surprised with the end result - it actually looked like a seagull. So I carried on painting and drawing until I decided that it was what I wanted to do and went to art college in the UK.
“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. That was a wonderful experience and while I was working there I was commissioned to hold an exhibition at the new JW Marriott Hotel; I still go back whenever I can.
“So, I guess now I have been painting full time for the past 13 years, and I am hoping to secure a commission for the next America’s Cup. There’s so much on the boil at the moment, you never really know what’s going to happen next, when the next commission is going to come in. But it’s so exciting when they do, and I have a number of projects organised for this winter in Antigua and St. Barths, especially the famous St. Barths Bucket.
“During my fine arts course, I learnt a host of skills, in particular photography, and that is how I work. I photograph particular yachts or races during the regattas and then use a selection of around ten photographs to build my oil paintings from. It’s pretty tricky trying to paint while out on the water... .”
“But I’ve also painted seascapes, luxury homes and the odd portrait - portraits is something I would really like to get into. Having spent all my life on the sea, I’ve got to meet so many fascinating people from all over the world, young and old. That’s another thing I love about the yachting world; everyone is so open and non-judgmental, plus we also share a common bond - sailing. And I think these great characters would make serious subjects for portraits. Their weather-beaten faces tell so many stories, so telling those through paint would be a great challenge,“ Anna, who loves Palma, said.
“Dividing my time between the Mediterranean and the Caribbean offers me so many different aspects. The light, the colour of the sea, the environment are all so different. But Palma is a wonderful city. I love walking round the old town, taking in the architecture, absorbing the rich history and of course I am by the sea and surrounded by fellow sailors. Not to mention the city’s great art culture. What more could I wish for.”
To more information visit www.annaboulton.com