Artist Spotlight

Annette Hassell

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Tell us a little about yourself, e.g. where you were born/raised, currently live/work, education, family, interests etc. 

I was born in South Carolina, but moved to New Orleans when I was four and that's where I grew up. New Orleans is spooky and sleazy and sexy and I'm glad that if I had to grow up somewhere in the Deep South, it was in New Orleans. I got a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Orleans and proceeded to design and paint Mardi Gras floats for the next 15 or so years. I moved to Los Angeles with my rockabilly musician husband in 1998, and started working as a scenic artist - meaning I painted backdrops, sets, and all sorts of things you wouldn't think of for tv shows, music videos, theme parks and movies. The husband left, but I stayed on and continued to work in the entertainment industry. It sounds glamorous, but in actuality it's pretty backbreaking - lots of ladder and scaffold climbing, physical labor and insanely long hours. I painted this and that for myself, here and there, but it's only been in the past couple of years that I have officially retired and am able to happily concentrate on my own work.

Briefly describe the artwork you make.

I think that I illustrate stories in my paintings. I usually have a narrative in mind and I want people to look at my work and wonder who is that and what are they doing and why are they there? I had a good friend tell me that my work is very presentational, and I like that. I want to acknowledge the audience. I've also recently taken up pastel pencils and I've been doing fan art portraits with them and enjoying myself immensely. I don't know yet what I think I'm going to do with all of them, but it sure is fun, and I'm enjoying drawing again.

What are some significant influences on your current artwork?

The Pre-Raphaelites. Early Disney animation backgrounds. Miyazaki's animation backgrounds. Edmond Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Maxfield Parrish, Aubrey Beardsley. There are also a ton of artists alive and working today whose work I admire so much. They motivate me to try and get better.

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What are the passions or motivations driving your work?

Honestly, I don't know. It's just something that I do and have always done. I was lucky to manage to earn my living all these years doing artwork, in one form or another, and now I really enjoy being able to use my art skills to create what I want to create.

Is there something uniquely you that translates or is signified in your art? 

 I don't know how unique it is but I think that my love of fantasy, fairy tales, folk tales, mythology, science and animals is pretty apparent in my work.


In many ways art is a mode of communication. What does your work aim to say, evoke, or inspire? I said above, I think I'm telling stories. Or maybe I'm getting the observer to tell themselves a story. Either way is fine.

What is your background and how has that influenced your artistic pursuits?

My background is such that I've been a big fan of escapism in my life, and I think that shows. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk right into a painting and hang out there for a bit?

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What part of your creative process is the most enjoyable or exciting for you?

I enjoy the process of composing a painting the most. First coming up with an idea, then working out the composition (usually in Photoshop), and then figuring out the mood and the meaning and the color scheme....all good.

Aside from art, what are your other interests?

I'm a voracious reader, tv watcher, movie goer, and I love music and dance. So that's all art. Okay. Yoga. I do yoga.

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Artist Spotlight

Annette Hassell

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