September 2012 – Annie Gifford, painter and Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery member since 1980, started her painting career at age 4. She remembers her father was a huge encouragement to her from the beginning. He even brokered her first sale, a painting of a clown. The price was $12.
After college she lied her way into a straight manufacturing job as a silk-screen printer. “I learned the technology of the time and I learned fast”, she says, of the very laborious, hands-on, layering work of silk-screen printing. One day while repetitively printing T-shirts, it suddenly dawned on her that the same technique could be used to make art, where her heart was. At night she printed the first artistic works of her own, colorful astrology charts.
For the next 30 years she made silk-screen prints, gratefully supporting herself and her son. About a dozen years ago, she re-discovered the joy of watercolor painting, a more fluid and less hard-edged medium that suits who she is now and allows her to consider herself a painter again. Her most recent development is making silkscreen print-like images of her creative paintings using Photoshop on her computer, a less toxic technique than silk-screening that she has developed and perfected on her own.
“It’s in my blood”, she says. “I could certainly have had a better-paying career, but not a more rewarding one.” Her greatest temptation is that she would like to paint all the time, with short breaks for teaching, wandering in nature, and singing while playing her guitar, but sometimes it is hard to find the time to paint at all. Her great luxury is going to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico one week a year and doing nothing but painting, hiking, reading and eating.
Annie has created the poster for the Bolder Boulder for seven of the past 20 years, after race sponsors discovered her work at Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery. For several years they requested what she calls her faux serigraph technique, where the finished artwork looks like a silkscreen print.
Annie’s eye is always out for inspiration and ideas. She spends a lot of time outdoors, hiking, her digital camera at the ready, taking photos of everything she sees. A self-styled exercise freak, even while swimming in the pool she is always thinking and head-clearing, allowing room for new images. She loves the classes she teaches for the elderly at the East Boulder Recreation Center and the Meridian Retirement Center, which encourage her to paint and keep a fresh eye.
Annie described to me her favorite moment of her life as an artist, her animated voice sounding suddenly tender: “It’s when I am simply sitting and painting. It is so meditative and I enter another world. It’s the very best when it’s raining and the door to the studio is open. I just paint and listen to the rain.”