Anya Hughes

"I adore the act of creating something new and where the paint leads me when I'm inspired by something or someone"

What do you do?

I'm a painter working in bright colours with a focus on portraiture. I produce vibrant and bold portraits in acrylics, working mainly to commission and often from photographs. I adore working closely with clients to really capture the personality of the subject and I capture the energy by working with loose, expressive brushstrokes. I rarely start with a pencil sketch but prefer to head in straightaway with paint, and love how the faces appear gradually on the canvas as I build up the layers. I often post time lapse videos on my social media pages so people get to see my process.

I also paint colourful watercolour pet portraits and larger scale wall murals for homes and businesses, of which some can be seen in local cafes and studios.

How did you get to where you are?

I've always been very artistic as I was brought up by extremely creative parents. We always had an overflowing "making cupboard" and we kept everything just in case we could use it to create something one day! I studied art up to A Level but then chose Theatre Studies at University and taught music for a while upon leaving. It wasn't until I moved from Lancashire down to Rutland, and after I had my second child, that I took up painting again. I painted elaborate wall murals in all the bedrooms to help put our stamp on a new house quickly and painting was also great therapy following a car accident that left me with a lot of anxiety.

My work, whilst always being colourful, has developed from painting onto clothing items, through some painted wedding cakes to murals and eventually moving into portraiture, via pets first. My style has evolved gradually through experimentation and by the challenge of commissions which have pushed me in new directions.

Why do you love what you do?

There are so many reasons why I love painting. I adore the act of creating something new and where the paint leads me when I'm inspired by something or someone. I love working on commissions and the reaction I get from clients when they first see the finished painting. I always hope that my work will bring joy and it's especially rewarding when clients return for further commissions.

I'm constantly inspired by the colours I see around me and the people that I meet and I'm fascinated with trying to convey this on canvas. I love trying to capture personalities and fleeting moments in my portraits and feel elated each time I succeed in this.

Why are you based in Leicester?

I'm based just outside of Leicester, and I've actually only lived here for 5 years. We moved down here for my husband's job, when I was pregnant with my second child and I hadn't even thought that painting could become my job. I was worried, moving so far away from family and where I had grown up, that we'd struggle to settle or it wouldn't be as friendly but I couldn't have been more wrong.

I absolutely love it down here and have met so many wonderful, creative and like minded people. I feel like I've only just scratched the surface of what there is to discover and I'm excited to discover more of the arts and cultural side of Leicester, once Covid restrictions are eased and now that I have a little more time, with both children starting school full time from September.

What next?

I have a few collaborations with other local businesses in the pipeline which I'm excited to get started on and more commissions to complete. I absolutely love working with other people, as painting can be a very solitary occupation and I'm a very sociable person, so I'm always keen to collaborate!

I'm excited to develop my portrait style further and see where that takes me. I'd love to work on a body of work I could exhibit eventually and I'm looking forward to having more time to dedicate to work with both children in school this year. With lockdown, homeschooling and summer holidays, a lot of my work has ground to a halt so I can't wait to get back into the swing of things and get working hard again!

Social media accounts to follow:

Facebook: /anyasstudio

Instagram: @anyasstudio

Pinterest: /anyasstudio