Anna Hoey’s been making art her whole life, and has never chosen just one style – she loves them all.
“I don’t remember ever not doing art,” said Hoey, who is the featured artist this month at Gallery Row in Gig Harbor, 3102 Harborview Dr. Hoey is a multimedia artist, who works with watercolors, chalk pastels, oils, graphite, colored pencils, charcoal, ink and more, and often combines more than one medium.
She started doing art as a child, then studied at the University of Washington, where she earned two Master’s degrees, in art education and in drawing. Hoey worked for 30 years as the program manager for disabled student services at Bremerton’s Olympic College, but now that she’s retired, the Belfair resident is actively pursuing wider recognition for her art.
Part of that process was joining the co-op that runs Gallery Row, and December is the second time in the past five months that Hoey’s been the gallery’s featured artist. She said she’s currently favoring oils and pastels a little more, though she’s still inclined to blend her talents together.
“I like to mix the media up,” Hoey said. “If I’ve started one thing, I might pick up another thing to add to it.”
The focus of her Gallery Row show is what she calls two “big, splashy pieces,” large pastel renderings of koi fish that she observed at a nursery and photographed. Much of Hoey’s work begins as a photo. Painting koi allowed her the chance to experiment with Asian influences.
“I have a sensitivity to Asian art,” Hoey said, which comes in part from three Japanese exchange students she once hosted who encouraged an appreciation of Asian themes and elements to add to her paintings.
Pastels, she said, really can bring some of these elements to the forefront.
“Pastel’s so cool because it’s pure pigment. The color is beautiful,” Hoey said.
Because she’s trained in so many different styles, Hoey starts her process by deciding which medium to use for a new piece.
“The picture dictates that to me,” Hoey said. “When I look at a photograph, it only takes me a few minutes to determine what medium will help me best explain that picture. That’s the God’s truth. I’ll look at some things and go, ‘I really want to do that in watercolor, that’d be beautiful as a watercolor.’ I’ll look at other things and go, ‘that’s an oil painting.’”
Sometimes, the specifics of a medium makes it more suitable for certain images. A photo with a high level of detail, for example, is more suited to watercolors than it is to the broader stroke of pastel.
In addition to her work at Gallery Row, Hoey also has pieces featured at galleries in Bremerton, Silverdale and Poulsbo. She also works from commission, and is trying to get her name out more by entering her work on the local competitive show circuit. She’s collected several awards, including a first-place painting at Peninsula Art League’s spring show.
“My ultimate goal would be that [commissions] don’t matter and that I paint what’s within me,” Hoey said. She’d like build her resume to the point that her art could be featured in higher-end galleries in places like Seattle.
“You have to work your way to that,” Hoey said, and seems on the path to do so. Her art can also be seen at her website.