Words Ellie Russell / Photos Stephanie Stone
We’re atop the lookout of Fort Bourke Hill with views spanning across the township of Cobar as I watch Ann-Maree Johnson paint a beautifully vibrant (and perfectly proportioned) female nude. Despite the searing summer heat and abundance of flies, it’s obvious Ann-Maree is passionate about art and the way it makes her feel. Her energy is infectious and like me, many have been lucky enough to get a taste at what life is like behind the easel embroiled in a world of colour as Ann-Maree shares her passion with hundreds of like-minded, budding artists across the Far West and beyond.
Born and bred in Cobar, Ann-Maree (pictured above), also known as Fuzz (a childhood nickname adopted due to her curly hair, and now part of her professional trademark FuzzyArt) spent the majority of her life and early years in the Far West. After a short stint in Sydney where she attended art classes regularly, Ann-Maree moved to the Pilbara in Western Australia where she completed further studies at Tafe and obtained her certificate IV in art. Ann-Maree describes the experience of learning, creating and playing with art at this time so enjoyable and likens it to being in Kindergarten again. “For as long as I can remember my favourite thing to do as a kid was to draw. I used to joke that I was born with a pencil in my hand,” said Ann-Maree.
“Art has definitely always been my passion. I did leave it for a while, life seemed to take other avenues, and I guess I got busy doing other things, but I found I just wasn’t myself without art and as soon as I picked up a paint brush again it felt like I had come home.”
Ann-Maree specialises in a modern, contemporary style of painting, one in which she said took her quite some time to discover. “I have tried many mediums over the years and different styles searching for my own style and it really has taken me years to find what I call my ‘style’. I love bright colours and painting subjects that portray a hint of something real without being realistic.
I like the person viewing my art to wonder a bit and find things in the piece. Everyone sees something different, and I like that.” Some of Ann-Maree’s artworks and works-in-progress adorn the walls of her workplace Belle Visage in the main street of Cobar. Colourful, lively birds, frogs and big-bottomed nudes are splayed across the various canvases in the room.
“I’m personally drawn to the watercolour look, it always catches my eye and I think that is why I’m so drawn to ink. Ink and I have been having an awesome relationship for the past few years, I love the vibrant colours and the unique effects ink can give, it never fails to excite me.”
Read the full story in Issue 1 of Far West Living Magazine on sale online here.