NEW KDHamptons Featured Artist: Meet Contemporary Romantic Painter Annika Connor
KDH loves being introduced to exciting new artists on the East End, and sharing their work with our readers. We recently caught up with Annika Connor, a self-described “hopeless romantic” who has an upcoming show at the QF Gallery in East Hampton. After living in buzzing cities including: Atlanta, Sweden, New York City, Barcelona, Chicago, and London, Annika shares, “I simply love to escape the city, and get inspired by the fresh air, the beaches and the flowery gardens throughout the East End.” Her iconic paintings of people and places will take you on a trip of fantasy, mystery, and love…
See what a day in the life of this charming painter is like in Annika’s KDHamptons Diary below:
KDHamptons: How were you introduced to the Hamptons, and why do you love it so much?
Annika Connor: I first came out to the Hamptons in 2005. I was doing a Summer residency for emerging and mid career artists at The School of Visual Arts in the city, and we made a field trip out to the Hamptons. I was especially thrilled to come out as we made the trip in order to visit Cindy Sherman at her house, followed by a visit to meet Ross Bleckner at his studio. It was such an inspiring and wonderful day.
Cindy Sherman was every bit as wonderful as I had imagined she would be. She met with us in her gardens, where she had incredibly gorgeous and fragrant roses [above]. The whole time she spoke with us she had a pet parrot on her shoulder. Ross Bleckner’s studio was also delightful. The pathway up was filled with flowers too [above] and inside it was light and spacious. From his place you could smell the sea air, and I remember thinking how wonderful it must be to escape the city and spend the summers painting here. I have been coming out to the Hamptons every summer since, and spending more and more time here each passing year. Every trip I make….I love it even more. I find inspiration in the nature, the gardens and the beaches, the fresh air, and the sense of quick escape from my fast paced New York life.
KDHamptons: Please describe yourself as an artist? What inspires your work?
Annika: I am a Contemporary Romantic painter. I take inspiration from my daydreams, cinema, and the beauty that surrounds me in daily life. I find the natural world to be a source of endless inspiration. I often find landscapes and animals to be mystical and intriguing and many times they become the subjects in my works. I also have met some remarkable people and often find my friends become my muses.
KDHamptons: Do you have a painting “uniform”?
Annika: Yes, typically I paint in comfortable yoga clothes. Lululemon is my favorite as it is stylish enough to not have to change out of if I need to step away from the canvas and go on a restorative walk in Central Park [which I do often].
KDH: What does your perfect Hamptons day look like?
Annika: Morning coffee by the waterside, silently, but starting the day with a beautiful view, while feeling happy, in love, and ideally in the company of a wonderful man. Then off to the studio to go paint. Afternoon break for a beach or poolside swim, outdoor shower off, paint some more, then a stop at the farm stand to buy fresh veggies and fish for a late waterside meal. Friends come over, wine or champagne is opened as the smell of the grill fires up, good music plays…. I talk and laugh in the kitchen while I cook. Sunset dinner served to a mix of fun and interesting people, fascinating conversations over the moonlight, romantic kisses under the stars, then off to bed with new thoughts, smiles, and happiness.
KDH: Do you like to entertain at home? Who does the cooking?
Annika: I do love to entertain and to cook! I find cooking and painting to be very similar. Complementary colors relate to complimentary flavors. I love to experiment in the kitchen and delight in making meals for friends.
KDH: Do you paint every day? Any structure or routine in place?
Annika: No. I live a very unstructured life. I often paint in bursts of concentrated energy that last for about a week and a half. When that happens, it is not uncommon for me to paint 16 or more hours a day. I tend to ignore everything else in my life while working like this and sleep as the paint dries. This is when I am most productive, but after a while like this I get fatigued, seem like a weirdo, can no longer see with fresh eyes. I also need to catch up on my computer work, so I take a break and switch gears.
It is during this downtime when I regain my balance, conduct most of my studio visits, deal with paperwork, emails, read a good book, go out for a wild night of dancing, and in general ~ restore my mind till the next round of art overdose starts anew. Perhaps this is not the most practical working cycle, but I find it very productive regardless, and I have learned over time to just embrace this working method rather then force myself into an unnecessary time schedule.
Annika: Oh this is a tough question, there are so many great ones depending on where you might be. In truth though, my favorite places to eat in the Hamptons are the casual little fish shacks by the beach where I can get fresh oysters or delicious clam strips.
[PSST! We can’t resist clam bars either, Annika]
KDHamptons: If you could invite any three people [dead, alive, or fictional] to your next Hamptons dinner party, whom would you choose ?
Annika: Mary Poppins, since she’s practically perfect in every way. I’d like her to teach me all her magical skills and together we could wink, do a double blink, close our eyes….and jump into one of my paintings. Salvador Dalí because I imagine he would be an extremely interesting dinner guest, and because I would like to dance with him in the moonlight after drinking too much champagne. I once visited his house in Cadaqués and it was marvelous! I’d love to spend the evening sketching and brain storming together and eventually end the night with collaborative designs for a whimsical and wonderful furniture line. Finally, I would invite P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster to join us. Bertie would be a delightful addition to this motley crew. He would surely get along well with Miss Poppins and Dalí. Plus, like all the ladies in Bertie’s life, I too would love to trap him in a ridiculous engagement over dinner, thus causing Jeeves to sneak into our night wearing one of Dalí’s hats and rescue him in a hilarious and ingenious manner.
KDH: If you could have time to do more of ONE thing~ which would you choose?
Annika: Oh I would love more time for dancing! I never seem to have enough time on the dance floor, nor enough time to go dancing as often as I’d like, nor time to take all the dance classes I want to learn. I wouldn’t want to be a professional dancer, but I would love to master every dance from breakdance and hip hop, to ballroom waltzing, ballet, and tango.
KDH: Do you have a favorite summer purchase yet?
Annika: Can a lobster roll count [yep! Our fav is at Red Hook, below]? If not, then cheesy though it may say I am most excited about the frames I recently had made for all my new paintings in my upcoming summer show at QF Gallery. They cost a fortune, but they are sooooo worth it. I view the right frame as the final touch that completes my piece. I have an incredibly talented framer who I work with, and together we plan out exactly how to match each painting perfectly. Each frame is custom made and everything from the side of the frame to the question of white vs. yellow gold leaf is tailored to best suit each piece. If you come to the show and notice in person, you will even see that the color inside the float, and the color of the clay underneath the gold leaf, has been carefully selected specifically to uniquely compliment each piece.
KDH: If you could own any painting in the world, which would you choose?
Annika: Hans Holbein the Younger’s Ambassadors! Every time I am in London I visit it at the National Gallery. It is an amazing painting and makes me a better artist each time I study it.
KDH: Where can KDHamptons readers view/acquire your paintings?
Annika: My solo show, The Hitchcock Kiss, opens at QF Gallery in East Hampton [above] on Saturday, June 15. QF Gallery is located at 98 Newtown Lane. For sales inquiries please contact QF Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 347.324.6619. Please plan to join me at the opening reception June 15 from 6-8 pm – the show is up through the end of June.