31 May 2016

Introducing my new Painters in Residence!

It’s been nearly two years since I launched my Painters in Residence programme, and since then many artists and makers have shared their incredible work with us. When I launched the scheme I didn't know exactly how it would evolve, but over the whole process I have added being able to share with you the fantastic, inspiring and creative work, form the people who have been doing wonderful things with my paints and products.

As every single artist involved has an individual style and medium, some working with textiles, others on furniture, and others transforming rooms - their work has been a true reflection of their unique selves. It has been a joy to see their personalities translate using my paint and products . With this in mind, I am very proud to introduce to you my two latest Painters in Residence, Hanayuishi Takaya, based in Kyoto, Japan, and Simon Ollson, who lives and works in Malmo, Sweden.

Both of these artists work in a quite contrasting way, but they definitely have one thing in common -their works are an extension of themselves, as their personalities come through their pieces. Even though Simon is 17 and just starting out, whereas Hanayuishi Takaya is more established, having been featured in such publications as the Daily Telegraph and Glamour Italia, both of their works are complex, interesting and have depth of character.

Simon’s work is all about creating gorgeous, textured patina in rich and bold colour combinations. I love how he has found his personal style so young, he truly is a talented young man, and I cant wait to share his stunning projects with you all!

Hanayuishi Takaya is something truly special. Combining floristry with art and fashion to create one-of-a-kind headdresses, he uses all sorts of objects - flowers, vegetables and fruits, even taxidermy to create his unique and ethereal pieces. I love the way he works on the spot, allowing the personalty of the person to spontaneously invent, calling it ‘a unity of human and nature.’ His work that he has conjured up as my Painter in Residence is beyond anything I have ever seen before, and I can’t wait to see your reaction! Take a look at his website and Facebook to see more of his current work.

Follow the hashtag #PaintersInResidence on Instagram and Facebook to see projects from Simon and TAKAYA over the coming weeks, and head to my ‘Painters in Residence’ Pinterest board too.

27 May 2016

Introducing the Annie Sloan MixMat™

Even though my schedule is hectic - I am lucky enough to be flying from one place to the next, visiting stockists, media and customers - I always try and paint everyday. Sometimes it’s just a quick sketch in my notebook, other times I can spend the day transforming whole sets for videos and photoshoots. Once I have an idea or style in my head, I work quickly, and use whatever I can get my hands on when working. I love mixing my colours to create hundreds of new shades, and for years and years I have been testing my colour mixes out on the closest surface to hand - my trusty studio table!


As you can imagine, after years of use, layers and layers of paint have built up on the table surface. They are uneven, cruddy and even though I think they look incredible, they haven't left me with the best, flat, even surface to work on! My son Felix, who some of you may know works with me here at HQ, was getting rather annoyed with my constant tabletop colour mixing!

To combat this the team and Felix came up with my new MixMat™! I’ve never seen a product like this before, its a complete one off, and now I can’t do any work without it.

The MixMat™ has been created to work on a flat surface, so it can be placed down on a tabletop or surface easily. It is made of a silicone-like material which both makes sure that paint doesn’t just glide off and also -rather cleverly - encourages paint to be taken up onto a roller or brush. I wanted something that I could use again and again without any leftover colour being absorbed in to the colours that I choose. A quick wash in warm soapy water is all they should need and I just use a wet sponge to get rid of any lingering pigment. Their handy shape and size means that, once you've finished using it, they can be rolled up and stowed away until the next time you paint!

It's perfect for mixing colours, for stencilling and stamping and for inspiration too! I wanted the design of the MixMat™ to be filled with tips, tricks and ideas, so on one side I have a whole host of of my own doodles and drawings to inspire your own free hand sketching. On the other side I have added a handy colour mixing guide. I talk about complementary colours, how to darken shades, clashing colours, how to create complex greys. My colours are meant to be mixed together, they have very little black in them so you'll never end up with a muddy colour when you blend them together.

I’ve fallen in love with the MixMat™, it has become an essential part of my painting toolkit, and I hope it will be part of yours too.

Yours, Annie

20 May 2016

Annie Sloan and Friends at ArtsWeek!

Here in Oxford, during the month of May, a festival celebrating all things art takes place: Oxfordshire ArtWeeks. Local artists display their work all over the county in open studios and spaces, and often in their own homes. It is one of my very favourite times of the year, and I love spending an afternoon on the ‘trail’ visiting different people and seeing creativity in all its forms. It’s so well organised and just a lovely, affirming thing. I think it’s an idea that has been taken up by other places, but the Oxford ArtWeeks is special to me. Not least because my friend, radio-presenter Bill Heine, was one of its founders. His own experiment with art has become one of Oxford’s most famous landmarks – The Shark House in Headington. People come from far and wide to see this wacky sculpture, I love it! Oxford has been home to me since 1983, so I have seen this festival grow and grow with each passing year.

This year I really wanted to support ArtWeeks in my shop on the Cowley Road, and so we have had a mini-exhibition of all of the work created here, by me and the team at HQ. There was a huge amount to display as I am lucky enough to be working with some very brilliant and creative people. I want to support any and all creativity and encourage my team to develop their own skills, be it screen printing, painting, jewellery making or textiles! Some people have created work all their lives and I loved showcasing their pieces. Holly who works in my studio with me creates fabulous screen prints, using imagery from endangered species native to the UK, including lots of birds and bees. Rudi in our Fabric Team is a very talented jewellery designer, using found objects that she forages for around Oxford and creates bespoke pieces, inspired by nature. Joanna, who works in Design, kindly showed her gorgeous green painting, I love that even though she is creative at work, she still loves painting as a relaxing pastime. Ann, one of my creative assistants, hand crafts these gorgeous pyjama sets for little ones out of vintage bed linen, just look at those candy stripes!

Each Tuesday we have a life-drawing class in my studio at HQ, everyone is welcome, regardless of ability or skill. What I love about our life drawing class is that you have people who haven't drawn since high school, people who draw regularly right down to some who have never drawn before! I love the variety and I think you will agree there is some serious talent on display.

The great thing about Art Weeks is it is really inclusive, so it’s not simply drawing and painting but a celebration of all creative activity - photography, textiles, sculpture, glass, jewellery, digital art and much more. Such a brilliant idea! A lot of my team create their pieces outside work so it was just fabulous to be able to put it all together in one place along with some of my own pieces from over the years, from painted pieces to sgraffito work and even a study of cows which somehow I’ve kept for all this time! If you are in the area please do pop down and see the work, if you are further afield as always, follow me on Facebook and Instagram as I share more from ArtsWeek.

Yours, Annie

13 May 2016

Celebrating the past in the USA!

Last week I was back in the States to attend Iowa’s annual Junk Jubilee in the city of Des Moines. There’s quite a buzz around Des Moines, and I really didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. It was my first time in the Mid-West, so I was excited to visit a different America than what I was used to. It was so cool – lovely people and a great emerging arts scene. I’ve heard people say the vibe in Des Moines is similar to Brooklyn, New York, and I really saw what they meant. There are great cafes, an amazing sculpture park and I owe a big thank you to the lovely John Whaley from Junk Jubilee who squired us around, making sure we got to all the cool places – he even gave us tickets to see Graham Nash at a beautiful old theatre  – what a bonus!

I got to the city a couple of days before Junk Jubilee so that I could do some promotion and actually held a version of my Stockist workshops for a group of around 25 journalists – Meredith Corporation who publish some of America’s most popular magazines is based in the city - and I also did some television and radio appearances.  

Junk Jubilee itself was fabulous! It was Americana to the extreme. It’s interesting, in the UK these sorts of events are often a mixed bag – a little Victoriana, perhaps a stall with nothing but glassware, some mid-century modern pieces, and in France I’ve been to many vide greniers which literally translates as empty attic! Junk Jubilee was much more curated, with lots of really cool agricultural artefacts, which I suppose speaks of Iowa as a farming state: flags, plates, and metalware – chippy paintwork and sumptuous patina! There was a real sense of nostalgia but in many cases it wasn’t so much that the pieces were terribly old, but they were certainly treasured. Many things had been cleverly repurposed. In fact, I met this really sweet young man, called Zane Hehnke, who had a great stall selling repurposed pieces – he’d been doing this since he was 13 (and is only 17 now!). Very creative. I also loved, loved, loved the many cool examples of packaging and typography.

I stayed on an extra day after Junk Jubilee to run a stockists workshop at the very hip Des Moines Social Club. I think you know by now how much I adore seeing my stockists, and we had around 40 from all over the States. Don Short who runs the inspirational West End Salvage – four stories of architectural salvage in an incredible old warehouse– treated us all to lunch, so I also owe him a huge and heartfelt thank you!

From Des Moines I travelled on to New York to meet our new PR team and do more magazine interviews, including some one-on-one workshops with various editors. Whilst I was there, Country Living asked me to do a Q&A on Facebook at my stockist in the East Village, Verdigreen, run by the amazingly named Azie Shelhorse! I thought it would be a great time to demonstrate my new Black and White Chalk Paint Waxes and was thrilled to see the views whizzing up past 80,000 in the half hour that we were live. Just amazing.

To cap it off, that evening I went with my friend Mary Anne to an event at New York University. Mary Anne was in a band with me called The Moodies, back in the ‘70s and had made friends with a young man called Andrew Carpetta who is writing a PhD on the connections between the music scene and art schools in the 70s and 80s which I wrote about last time I visited New York. I mentioned then how much I wanted to see a film featuring The Moodies which Andrew had unearthed and my wish came true! The screening was part of a series called The Colloquium of Unpopular Culture (I love it!) and I hadn’t seen this film for 20 years. Afterwards he’d organised a Q&A afterwards – there were three of us from the band, me, Mary Anne and also Rod Melvin, joining Andrew on stage. Somehow the idea of the past being celebrated in a whole new way sums up the whole trip! 

5 May 2016

Announcing two new Chalk Paint® Waxes - Black and White!

My Chalk Paint® is celebrating its 25-year anniversary and over those years, waxes have played an integral part and they are critical to achieving some of my most distinctive effects. Now, I am delighted to announce the launch of another duo of products to add to my range of Chalk Paint® Waxes – now in Black and in White!

I’ve spoken before about using Chalk Paint® and the different finishes in my collection to let pieces tell a story – thicken the paint to add texture, use contrasting colours sanded back to make different elements of a piece stand out. My Clear Soft Wax is the starting point for many of these tricks, and also adds a layer of protection to painted pieces. I use my Dark Soft Wax to add a little age to a piece, to give an antiqued effect or mimic a patina developed over time.

As versatile as they are, I found myself wanting to create slightly different effects. Now, with my White Wax and my Black Wax I can tell new stories with my pieces!

My White Wax will emphasise grain and texture in the same way that the Dark Soft Wax will, but it also – how can I put it? - not quite lighten the colour, but almost soften it. It can be used directly on unpainted wood with great effect, but what I really love is the effect it gives to painted pieces. It adds some age, certainly, but the effect is that of a piece which has been gracefully, subtly faded by sunlight – think of a piece left in a sunny spot, a terrace in Tuscany – it is that beautiful, natural washing of colour which my new White Soft Wax will give to a piece. It’s a look that immediately lends itself to Traditional Swedish and Coastal, but also Farmhouse – gentle, lovely. Or, use it to knock back some of the more vibrant colours in the range – faded Bohemian springs to mind!

The Black Wax can also be used for a Farmhouse look, although this one is different again. As I said before, if my Dark Soft Wax ‘antiques’ my pieces then my Black Soft Wax toughens them up! (Perhaps more ‘Barn’ than ‘Farmhouse’ – there’s definitely something industrial going on). I love using it to create pieces that have a roughened look, something which works particularly well with the Warehouse trend (I write about all of these looks in my book Room Recipes for Style and Colour).

The Black Wax also picks up on the texture and the grain and this can be emphasised by the way in which I apply the paint, using my own Pure Bristle Brushes. I apply paint in all directions when I want a really textured piece – back and forth in smallish strokes, and I use a fair amount of paint on my brush. A couple of layers really helps to build up texture and, also, I never sit down when I paint, I use my whole arm not just my wrist – give it a try!

Oh, and in the same way as you need to use the Clear Wax when adding Dark Wax (applying it first to help you control how the Dark Wax works into the piece), you will get the best results by using it with my new Black Wax too. The White Wax can be used alone and I can’t wait to see what how you use them both!