Where Wind and Water Dance

The Inspiration behind the "Ahoy Series" in the artist's words

Interviewed by Emma Grace Madsen

With its oceanic color scheme and brushstrokes seemingly made by the waves themselves, artist Ann Pickett’s new series Ahoy sails onto the Chicago art scene. The new series of paintings are a collection of abstract contemporary art that embody the dynamic and mesmerizing personality of the sea. Through its cohesive color palette and Pickett’s bold painting style,  Ahoy brings the fresh breeze of summer to the art world. 

“I used beachy, calm, peaceful colors,” Pickett said. “Anytime I am at the ocean I marvel at all the various blues and greens in the ocean. I hoped to capture some of those.”

Pickett first began painting abstract work in 2005 and along with a life long career in graphic design, she has carved out her own niche in the art world creating textured pieces full of tranquil movement. 

“My process involved a lot of masking and layering, creating a grid initially. Once I had several layers I freehanded and used painting tools to build even more layers,” Pickett said. “I intentionally played with roughing up or making areas look a little weathered or even messy by scrapping, sanding, rolling, and knifing in. I wanted these rougher edges to contrast with the more precise edges of the sails, waves, and stripes.”

The oceanic color palette in addition to the lifeguard and body surfer so characteristic of a beach setting make it clear that the message behind Ahoy draws its inspiration from the ocean. However, the inception of the series started with a different, unexpected source.

“I was initially inspired by a quilt in which colorful strips of fabric were stitched together creating a picture when you took the whole quilt in. I thought it was beautiful and wondered, could I do that with a painting?” Pickett said. “Where Wind and Water Dance was my first attempt. I used a photograph I took at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens—Lotus blooms rise from the muck and lilies sit on the water. In Where Wind and Water Dance I tried to break it down to stripes and shapes that depicted just that.”

Ahoy carries a light and carefree tone, reminding the viewer of the warm breeze of summer and the salty smell of ocean waves. This blue-sky feeling is carried throughout the series of paintings and delivers exactly what the artist hopes viewers will take away from the works, 

“Nothing complicated,” Pickett said. “just a connection to the beach or simple happy times at the sea—toes in the sand and the beauty of the ocean. I think the Ahoy series reflects my love for the sea, a bit of whimsy and play, with a sense of color and design, that comes from my years of training as a graphic designer.”

The Ahoy series will be on display at the grand opening of the Ann Pickett Studio & Gallery May 12-14 in the Fine Arts building studio 601 located at 410 S Michigan Ave. The series will remain on view through the month of August. 

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