That day, when my partner told me that Annabel Burton would no longer be reading our horoscopes, I felt a twinge of sadness. I sat on the edge of the sofa and lingered on that for a while.
I’d never met her, though. I couldn’t tell you where she lived or worked. She wasn’t a Facebook contact either. We didn’t even follow each other on Twitter. But for a few years, she’d been a wonderfully fruity voice—not in my head, but on YouTube.
She was one of my partner’s favorite and trusted Internet sibyls and typically, I listened to her passively. When she’d tune in to her channel, her forecasts would waft out to my ears like autumn breeze through a half-opened window—there, but not quite there. Over time, she’d become a reassuring sound of continuity, an element of my circadian rhythm, someone I’d hear, without always listening to.
One day, she announced that she was retiring from her career as an astrologer to cope with a life after the loss of her daughter. I realized then that even as she struggled with her own crushing present, she’d been peering into our collective futures.
When her own stars were imploding, she didn’t forget to pore over what ours foretold. Later, when I learned that she’d thrown herself full on into art, I wanted to reach out. She agreed to an interview, which was conducted by e-mail.
In 1821, John Constable, the English Romantic artist, best known for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, wrote to his friend: “Painting is but another word for feeling.” That can be said of Annabel.
Through her canvasses, one enters the sun-dappled, happy world of the English countryside, where there are flowers in bloom; picture book-like stores; secret woodlands with rabbits; dragonflies and squirrels; leafy lanes, edged with grasses and wildflowers; cottages with a patch of garden; and a few chickens in the yard. Where in the late summer, blackberries can be picked ripe, just perfect for pies and puddings; the seasons are seen through the changing colors of the foliage.
I asked her a dozen questions.
- Where are you based?
- Where you live is the quintessence of the English countryside. That must truly spur your creatively. Doesn’t it?
- You got a degree in fine arts in the Seventies? Where? What was it like for women in your day to get a degree in fine arts?
- What did you do next?
- Your work hits one with a sense of serenity and brightness. Also, one doesn’t have to wade through a tangle of meanings and complex narrative. Your art is what it looks like—that is, a cottage is a cottage.
- What role do you want your art to play?
- Who or what are your influences?
- Most of your work is in watercolor and acrylic. Are they your preferred media?
- How long does it take you to complete a piece?
- Do you plan on exhibiting them at an offline gallery?
- Did your own chart foretell that you’d take up painting as a full-time occupation?
- You showcase your work online. How have you benefited from technology?