Dress Up Your Walls

An interview with local artist Ani Eastwood

Ani Eastwood's artwork is unmistakable. She has undoubtedly developed a style that is all her own, and she has the techniques to prove it.

C: It seems like you've had a love of the arts, specifically painting, all your life. Tell us, how did you decide to work with the materials you use today?

A: My grandfather used to say, “If you find what you love to do, you will never work a day in your life.” I felt this way about my artwork from the beginning. I drew and colored all the time as a child, and the gap between my imagination and my hand narrowed but it never entirely goes away. I fell in love with oils right away and started working with them at about 15. They are smooth and you have time with them to layer before they dry. You just can’t get the same effects with other paints. Mostly what I have found is attention to details and quality materials make the work. I also got sick and tired of fragile paintings with canvases that could dent when they’re shipped or just look at them wrong. I designed a frame style with a wood backing that helped with warping over time and is much more durable and strong, as well as beautiful.

C: We want to know about the craft and technical process of giclée printing. What kind of end product does it leave you with and how did you come across this method?

A: In my opinion, giclées are the ultimate reproductions for original paintings. Very accurate, refined printheads with 12 color archival inks, which are known in the art world for producing their museum quality reproductions. These machines, paired with a good printer who knows the craft, can yield the finest quality prints. I tried selling and printing just about every type of other print in the process of finding giclées and slowly learned the technical trade myself while saving for years for the equipment. It has important to me to do every part of the process of my work myself because every step influences the end result.

C: So much of your creative content is centered around nature and the places you've been. Tell us, how do you start each piece? Do you have an image in mind or do you start with an emotion, color, size, etc.? 

A: This process really varies for me. A painting can literally just fall out of thin air when I sit down or be very planned and calculated. Sometimes the pieces are directly from my own photographs and I’m wanting to sort of historically capture the place and moment. Other times they are completely imaginary or just inspired by a wildflower or native grass. 

C: Why Montana? Out of all the places you've been, why here?

A: I have deep history in Montana and spent my childhood here in the Bitterroot Valley and Missoula. In 1882, my great great grandparents Aaron and Julia Conner homesteaded in the southern Bitterroot Valley off the Oregon Trail. The town of Conner was named in honor of Aaron Conner who ended up being a judge in the legislature and started a successful hay/sheep ranch in the farmlands under Trapper’s Peak. I also grew up outside, camping with my dad, fly fishing with my grandpa, and riding horses up bass creek with my mother. I owe so much to them because they helped me find the love and home in the beautiful outdoors we all treasure in Montana. 

C: Are you more proud or perhaps more fond of one painting in particular? It doesn't have to be a recent one! Perhaps one from your early days that made a special mark on your career or personal life?

A: This is a difficult for me to answer because they all are part of my story and the creation of them has helped me over so many hurtles and changes in life. I think of them sort of as children and know the titles and sizes of all of them by heart as well as copyrighted and recorded all of them. For Montana imagery, the following would probably include but not be limited to “Morning on the River, Trapper’s Peak, Elk Calling, Rattlesnake Creek, Keeping Up the Pace, and The Bitterroots.”

C: Where can someone find your work in Missoula?

A: The easiest, prime location to view my work in person is The Artists’ Shop, 127 North Higgins. I offer a wide variety of originals, giclée, and greeting cards in a permanent but transitioning display. I also have built and designed multiple websites for my portfolios and giclée printing services over many years so that my work is widely available to anyone, anywhere. Online, there are very complete portfolios and shopping sites for all price ranges with originals and prints available. You can find my work at AniEastwoodFineArt.com and MissoulaArtistsShopStore.com.

C: Lastly, what do you think your work says about you as an artist?  

A: Painting has brought a lot of peace and serenity in my life, as well as a new level of dedication and patience. It also has consistently given me direction at times where things were hardest and I didn’t know what to do next. I hope the images bring this feeling of serenity, beauty and passion into people’s homes and visual space. I won’t say it is an easy profession, but I will say it is a valuable journey to become a fine art craftsman.

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