M.R. Thanks for joining us Ann Marie—you’re the first visual artist to appear at Center Stage. And I hear you like peppermint, so we’re serving Rumpleman’s tonight. Care for a nip?
A. Sure Mick, cheers! Thank you so much, I’m happy to be here!
Q. Writer Cindy Rosmus, who also edits crime and horror webzine Yellow Mama first drew my attention to your paintings. How did you get involved working as an Illustrator at Yellow Mama? And how long have you been at the magazine?
A. I met Cindy about 3 years ago in Lot 13—which happens to be Yellow Mama’s signature craft beer bar. I’d stopped in after participating at a local art show. The rest as they say is history.
Q. For folks who don't know, you live in New Jersey. How far are you from NYC? And do you spend much time in the Big Apple?
A. I live in Hudson County NJ right across the river. I’m a native New Yorker—originally from the Bronx—so I love the city. I don’t get to visit as often I’d like. But I’ll be going to see MUSE at Madison Square Garden in April when the weather’s warmed up.
Q. Meanwhile, you're sporting a CAS hat: Catskill Animal Shelter. Are you actually at the shelter in this photo? And is the shelter located in the Catskill Mountains like the name suggests?
A. The photo was taken in Pennsylvania. But yes, I support the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in upstate New York—as well as the Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue in New Jersey. They’re all beautiful, dedicated people who do great work.
Q. So when did you first start painting?
A. I was into art in childhood and loved painting and sketching but lost the connection when my mom passed away. I never thought 30-plus years later I would be doing this again. But in 2016 I met a local artist who inspired and encouraged me to get back into it. So here I am!
Q. So did you take any classes during your journey? Or are you completely self-taught?
A. I took art classes in high school but that’s about it. So mostly self-taught.
Q. You recently mentioned going out for a "commission." And I've seen on your Facebook page you've done "commissioned work" before. How many such pieces have you done? Any idea?
A. In the past 6 months I’ve been commissioned to do 5 portraits. One I’m still working on. This is all still new to me. It's such an honor to be asked to do a portrait.
Q. Do you find doing commissioned portraits intimidating? I'd be scared witless!
A. It is intimidating! I have to connect with the photo I’m given to paint. But I love a challenge.
Q. Interesting. So you're painting these portraits alone, not forcing people to sit still in a chair and try to smile for hours. How long does a portrait typically take you to paint? And do you have a studio where you typically work?
A. It depends on the painting how long it takes to complete. When I’m painting it’s usually on my day off, and I'll work for the entire day. I’m hoping to get studio space at some point. But I’ve been working in a small, cozy, space at home for now.
Q. What are some of the things you've done to promote your work during the past 3 years?
A. Mostly by submitting my work to art shows. If I discover a show that seems like a good fit for one of my paintings I’ll send it. As you mentioned, I also share my work on my Facebook art page.
Q. What subjects do you usually like to paint? And why, Anne Marie?
A. I paint all different subjects. I love painting musicians, animals—and a lady in a red dress. One day while I was shopping that idea came to me, the lady in a red dress.
I kept thinking about her and wanted to see how she would turn out. I went with the flow and painted “Stood Up.” I had fun working on that one. I like when my art tells a story and has different interpretations.
Q. What sized canvases do you usually work on?
A. Usually 11x14 or 12x16. I don’t have much room right now—but I’d love to work on a large canvas at some point.
Q. What's your idea of a "large canvas?"
A. Huge! One that takes up an entire wall.
M.R. How fun. Hope you get that wish, Ann Marie! Best of luck with your ventures. And thanks once again to our fine audience for joining us here at Center Stage.
Folks can visit Ann Marie Rhiel on Facebook
and also on Instagram @annier.arts: