Anna Emelia Howlett from Rosehart Studio
Anna is the artist and designer behind Rosehart Studio in Kent, UK. She has a recognisable, colourful style and great attention to detail in her work, from handmade journals to carefully illustrated greeting cards.
She is also a Powertex tutor, member of the Powertex design team and finds time to be Press Office and social media star for Powertex UK! Phew. Anna agreed to let me interview her about her creative life and loves, so this is my chance to get behind the artwork and hear her story.
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. I already know a little about your creative journey so I’m excited to share what you have to say. Here we go.
When did you start creating and what is your first memory of making art or being creative?
My mum always had us drawing, sewing, building or crafting something from age dot. I like to think that I had what I like to call a proper childhood. Does that make me sound really old now? Lol…you know in the good old days when all we had was colouring books and reading to entertain us or exploring the countryside.
I remember we used to spend the whole 6 week summer holidays at my nans in Devon and she would take use to this store called Normans in Budleigh Salterton. We used to go upstairs into the biggest room which was a wonderland full of things for little people. If it wasn’t fuzzy felted pictures to colour in, it was the giant poster roll sets with crayons, dot to dot, colouring books or those little books with the paper cutouts you built into little houses or scenes.
Did any experiences in your life influence how you put art and creativity into your life as an adult?
I had studied art at college and then horse care, ending up in Australia working with event horses. I came back and my mate from college got me a job in Cross’s art shop, then I moved to a beautiful old art shop in Tunbridge Wells, then Hobbycraft. I was always creating one thing or another but had been put off by an artist coming into college and telling us how hard and competitive it was being a self employed artist. My school teacher also told me through my A levels how I would fail.
I ended up managing a Pets Corner shop but a couple of years in, my 19 year old colleague was killed in a car crash. A year later her brother in law also died in a car crash. I had been asked by a customer to create a canvas for a charity auction and painted a fish in memory of Jess. I started to believe I was meant for something else, that life was too short, so quit my job and turned to my art as a source of therapy and income.
Following such tragic events, now that you have a creative practice back in your life, what do you think the benefits are?
My art isn’t just a form of income. I love to share my experience and skills through teaching others and seeing the confidence it gives them makes me feel like I have a purpose. My art is more than just a creative expression, it’s my therapy as well. With Powertex you become part of a family where you make friends with other tutors and students, sharing and gaining from their experiences.
The benefits are wonderful but making art can also come with some challenges! Do you have any advice for coping with loss of creative mojo or feeling self doubt with creative projects?
I’m the best for giving advice and the worst for taking it. Surround yourself with a couple of really good friends who know exactly what you’re going through as they do too. Talk it out with one another and maybe even video chat and create together. Most of all don’t beat yourself up, I used to do this. Sometimes I think people think I can do or create anything at anytime I want. I struggle through sometimes which isn’t very enjoyable at all but I try not to beat myself up about it and just give myself the space I need. Then I can come back to my ideas with fresh eyes. I also watch videos by other artists, Marta Lapkowska gives great pep talks and reminds me to just do it and not over complicate things.
Not beating ourselves up is valuable advice! Do you have any artistic or creative heroes? Has anyone in particular inspired you with their work?
Tracey at Powertex UK has been the greatest mentor and influenced my art and confidence through her guidance, training and her stunning works of art. I really love Marta Lapkowska at the moment. I have learnt a lot from her you tube videos, she gives away a lot of techniques but I love her chitty chats as she basically tells you to go for it and not hold anything back. Which you just need to hear sometimes, right!
Do you have a favourite product or medium to work with and why?
It has to be Powertex. It has literally changed my life. Thank goodness for the day I met Tracey. I also really wish I had access to it for A level I could have created some really neat sculptures. I also like the fact that it is so versatile you can paint and sculpt with it, make clays and all sorts of textures.
I know you as a Powertex tutor and artist but I know you have other creative interests. Describe these and how you balance your time between them.
I studied Graphic Design and illustration so I love to draw and I have just found art journaling, where I can get painty and messy and play and learn with colours and techniques that I can then apply to bigger pieces. I start with a schedule that I attempt to stick to and focus by not getting distracted by my creative brain. It doesn’t always work out but I try not to use my energy worrying anymore as I need that energy for creating. I truly believe we have our own clock which we work to and everything will happen when it’s supposed to. It’s taken me a while to figure this out and I have to try not to panic when I only just earn enough in the month to pay the bills.
Do you have any other projects you would like to try or creative skills you would like to learn?
I would really love to do a sculpting course. The first time I did any sculpting was with my Powertex when I started nearly 4 years ago. I really believe you can never know everything and I also love learning. I know you can read up about how to do things or watch videos but I really prefer the experience and knowledge of an expert to guide me. I’d also love to take some art journal classes. I’ve just signed up for a mentorship programme with a charity called Porchlight. I’m hoping to be able to do more project in the community work through them as well sharing my passion for art.
So, who is your biggest cheerleader in your artistic life and what role does a creative community have for you?
My biggest patron has to be my mum. She would have been a folk singer if it wasn’t for us kids. That was her dream so I think she is super happy to see me trying for mine.
I’d also say my biggest support, confidence builder and giver of the best advice and opportunities has been my mentor and good friend Tracey. She has really looked after me. I’ve trained as a Powertex tutor, helped on the Powertex stand at the craft shows. I’ve been on the tv as a guest presenter for Powertex, written magazine articles, I co-ordinate the design team and I’m Press office for Powertex. I’m doing things I never realized I could and I wouldn’t be able to do it without the faith of Tracey and my Powertex colleagues. Who are I’d say, an inspiration to me as much as I am to them.
I am becoming a mentor for an arty young person soon through the charity Porchlight. If it wasn’t for everything that has happened up to this point I wouldn’t have the confidence or experience to be a support for someone else. I love encouraging younger people in their art when I was given so little support from my art teacher and for the fact they are cutting arts in schools.
Lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to creative readers, what would it be?
Never compare yourself to anyone but yourself. Keep everything you create, even pieces you are not as proud of so in a year you can see how far you have come.
If you want to have the technical skill of someone you admire, put in the time and money they have to achieve it as I can guarantee that they have pretty much spent every waking hour learning, practicing and preening their skills. Creating art doesn’t just boil down to talent and creative eye. It helps but practice really can make perfect. Just get on and do it. Is that more than one ha ha?!
Haha! Thanks so much Anna for taking the time to tell us more about your arty life! It’s good to acknowledge all the work you do and I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do next. I’ve already seen some beautiful new mixed media art with your sunflowers.
If you would like to see more of Anna’s work, you can find Rosehart Studio on Facebook or at Etsy. If you enjoyed reading Anna’s Creative Secrets you might also enjoy this interview with Donna McGhie from Art and Murals.