You have to take the risk. If you need to break the paper, break it.
Do not miss her portfolio with all her works. Available on her website.
In her artwork, we usually find delicate women with a hypnotic look, who are always surrounded by nature. You definitely know of whom we are talking about, because Ana Santos doesn’t need an introduction. The clean appearance and personal style of her work make her one of the top illustrators at the national level. A well-deserved title.
She has worked for publishing houses such as Planeta, Penguin Random House or Roca Editorial. In addition, she has her own creative studio in Salamanca, La Habitación de Lhéa, and she teaches watercolour illustration workshops in Domestika. This time, Ana has left the papers and canvas behind to immerse herself in one of our murals: Bacoa Salamanca.
You have a natural talent, but you studied Fine Arts in Salamanca, specialising in graphic design, and then you went to Madrid to study website design. Are artists born or made?
I guess you are born with some artistic skills or curiosities, but it’s only with work, persistence, practice and a lot of perseverance that you get to be comfortable with what you do. So, I guess an artist is born, but, above all, is made. Behind a “good work” there are hours and hours of practice and exploration. If you don’t train it’s very difficult to master anything.
In most of your pieces you paint female portraits. Claim or inspiration?
I liked to paint portraits since I was a little girl, and I always used to draw female characters. Not that I thought about it, it was natural for me, maybe because it’s what I know most and who I identify with the most. In any case, lately I am somewhat curious about opening up to male portraits and to other ages.
As a general rule, I like to experience with different materials and means. I am very curious about trying and changing, not coming to a standstill. I have always enjoyed a lot of the processes, and even more when you lose the fear of mistakes. When I find out that I was going to paint the mural of Bacoa Salamanca, I felt as much motivation as fear, because I had never painted on a large scale. But eventually the experience was great and I'm looking forward to repeating it. It’s always a satisfaction to overcome a challenge.
You also have a wild side in your imaginary, which we can see in the shape of animals, tropical vegetation and even constellations. What do you want to tell us with all of that?
I love the animal world and I really enjoy being in contact with nature: feeling that it’s ours, that it belongs to us and that we must take care of it and respect it. I feel an inner need to wrap it all up in these worlds, it gives me peace and takes me away from the city noise. In addition, artistically speaking, nature is a great inspiration due to its colours, shapes, textures…
Who would you say are your main references?
My parents instilled in me the love for art in general. More specifically, my mother did it for drawing and painting. I remember that when I was a small girl, I sat by her side and watched her paint. If we speak about artists that encouraged me to paint, I would say Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Egon Shiele, Klimt, Van Gogh, Sorolla, Rothko… A never-ending list! I am also inspired by cinema, photography, music… You can find inspiration everywhere.
You also work as a teacher: any advice for whoever is starting in this community?
I always say that patience is part of the equipment. Being persistent. Normally, when you start painting, you want everything to be good at the first time, and that’s not possible. Sometimes it happens, but you have to practice very hard to improve your skills and feel comfortable. I’m still learning.
It’s also important to get rid of your fear of ruining the paper, if you are scared of making a mistake you are never going to move forward. You have to take the risk. If you need to break the paper, break it. I advise to befriend the “mistake”, a lot of interesting things are born from mistakes. I think that the reason I love that much how children paint is actually that they don’t have that fear, they are full of nerve and spontaneity.