Painter Anna Boulton a sailing citizen of the world

Interview by Jens Oomes

Interview by Jens Oomes

Anna Boulton is a free and creative spirit. Combining her passion for sailing and visual arts, this rolling stone gathers no moss. Anna sets up her art studio wherever the most beautiful yachts visit, or perhaps, wherever she feels best at the time. 

Anna, your artwork is all about yachts. Which of these passions came first into your life and when and how did you start to combine them?

Sailing first. My parents met in Dubai and created a sailing club there with their friends, so I grew up around boats. They would fly off to America and compete each year at world championships and often won so that seemed pretty exciting to me. I started racing competitively at around 7.

Drawing came easily from a young age so seemed a good idea to pursue it. My great uncle was a successful marine artist so pursuing it as a career was never questioned. So many are unfortunately steered away.

I did a degree in fine art and then went on to do an internship at the Guggenheim in Venice. It was an incredible experience but when I spotted the super yachts moored off Piazza St Marco I realised I must go sailing. I went to sea for a while but again missed art so I went to the mountains to paint in New Zealand for a few years. I painted the landscapes and animals on pieces of slate and canvas. I got involved with an old America’s Cup boat on the lake in Queenstown which led me to want to paint yachts. I headed north to Auckland, ‘The City of Sails’. I had the great fortune to bump into an old friend from Mallorca, Quinny a famous sail maker. He introduced me to his yacht owner client, and suggested he should look at my art. He checked it out and ordered three paintings right away. A fantastic start, setting me on the perfect course for a career that combined my two passions at last.

You regularly sail and race on certain classic yachts. How did that come about? Tell us a bit about your connection with these yachts.

I love to race classics. They are a fun crowd. The yachts are a work of art. I also love to race modern boats. The faster the better. I base myself in places where the most beautiful yachts in the world tend to sail so I’m lucky to meet the owners, designers, captains and crew. When they discover what I do and the fact I’m also a keen sailor I’m occasionally incredibly fortunate to be invited to go out with them. It’s the most exciting part of what I do, on a par with a finished piece of art being received.

Who are the people who acquire your work?

The yacht owners commission my paintings. Sometimes their families, and friends order them as a gift. It’s also lovely when their crew get together to order art for the owner or captain. I’m working hard to complete a few gifts at the moment. It’s especially tricky to find a great present for someone who can afford anything so if it’s an original oil painting or drawing, created especially for them is well received.

You live between Palma and Antigua. Where do you feel most at home? Tell us a bit about what your life in these two places looks like.

Yes, two great spots for attracting the most stunning yachts, I haven’t decided where I feel at home. I have also had studios in St Barths, Venice Dubai, New Zealand and Newport Rhode Island USA. I’ve enjoyed being based in each place. I feel happiest when I’m surrounded by yachts and the people associated with that world as I can continue to create my work and be inspired by the sailing. The transient life has been good. Travelling with my art studio is a challenge so I ought to decide really.

What is your own favourite artwork from your repertoire and why?

I’m yet to create that. piece. I’m incredibly self critical and keep pushing for a higher level of work. I imagine it will remain that way and hopefully that will push me to continue to improve. I learn with each piece.

Which artists inspire you?

I adore sculpture exhibitions. I’m impressed by the creation of three dimensional work. For 2D work, Anselm Kiefer has been a favourite.

I particularly love to meet the yacht designers at the various regatta parties. I admire many of their incredible designs. When you spend so many hours attempting to capture the yachts crashing through the waves in a race, at their best angle is it great to know who created it.

If you’d end up with unlimited funds, would you buy a yacht, and if so, which one?

I particularly love racing the stunning Herreshoff ‘Elena of London’ That would be my dream boat. Some of my of my earliest commissions were of her.

For a modern boat, I loved sailing the 100ft maxi Comanche. or recently I did a drawing for the owner of the latest ‘Pyewacket’ Volvo 70 and thought that was very cool. Also because they win often.

I’d get a foiling moth. I think I’m a little small but I could try.

Probably a J Class too. Endeavour hasn’t raced for far too long so I’d get that back in the racing scene.

So many more but I ought to stop there.

Where can people find your work and can they commission artwork with you?

I am happy to accept commissions. I have a wide range of choices from a sketch to very large oil paintings on linen. For the oil paintings I discuss ideas with my clients, then create drawings to work out the best composition. Once that is confirmed I will start the painting process. It takes many layers of oil to build up some of my paintings. The longest, most detailed piece of work took 4 months but I can also create something in a couple of weeks.

They aren’t all yachts. Sometimes, after painting their yacht the client will ask me to paint other subjects. Their home, family, pets. I prefer painting waves to whiskers but I do love animals.

I have paintings all over the world in private collections. There are a couple of originals left in a gallery in Antigua and some large canvas prints are currently on display in ‘Mallorcaria’ here in Palma.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I feel incredibly grateful to everyone who has taken me out sailing and especially those who have asked me to capture their yacht in action. I’ve had enormous encouragement from so many people involved with all areas of the yachting world and art world and especially those who have kindly provided the incredible spaces all over the world to create the paintings. I can’t thank them enough.


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