It is easy enough to get lost in Ann Siems paintings, a world of verdant gardens, ghostly lace, and beautiful folkloric portraits. Siems paintings employ different elements of 18th and 19th century art. Her subjects are stylized childhood figures, with pink-cheeked and smiling faces, that stare wide-eyed at the viewer. By contrast, the figures inhabit landscapes and gardens that are richly detailed with plants, trees, insects, animals and birds -- all painted with precision. And over that, there is an intricate layer of luminous white patterns of flowers and animals so the figures appear to simultaneously inhabit and float over the surface of the material world. More recently her work has included yet another visual layer -- animal forms intimately connected with the figures where animal spirits seem to act as totemic guides. The overall effect is stunning and full of fairy tale wonder.
Of her work Siems' writes: “All that I see, hear, touch, experience and dream moves into me and finds its way into my artwork. I love faces, bodies, gardens, wide open stretches of land with small forests and fields, old things that have had a life of their own, stories and all the realms in between. What I paint comes from an intuitive, visceral place. Elements found in my work through the years are there because they feel right; they have no specific symbolism. What you see is an open ended narrative, one that I invite you to enter into and complete or continue."
It's worth going to Siems' website to see the whole body of her art and to observe the fascinating progression of her work -- moving increasingly to these intricate, mythic narratives. Here is a link to a recent show of German Fairy Tales where Siems offered three paintings based on Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. And here is a "studio visit" and interview with Anne Siems in Seattle, which is especially wonderful for those of us who love peeking into artist's studios -- and Anne's studio appears as enchanting as her art.
Paintings in order from top to bottom: "St. Bee," "Lynx Cap," "Wolf Girl," "Plant Wisdom," "Bear Girl," and "Bison Boy."