Interview with Anna Dibble, Artist
Interview with Anna Dibble, Artist
Photo Credit: Gisela Gamper.
Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Anna Dibble, an artist living in Peru, Vermont. Anna Dibble paints and illustrates dogs and other animals. A selection of Anna Dibble’s work is displayed below. Please visit Anna Dibble’s website to view more of her wonderful work! Anna also does commissions upon request.
“Dubious Proposal” 8 inch x 10 inch Casein & Ink
KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as an artist and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?
ANNA DIBBLE: My father, grandfather, great aunt, and an uncle who died in the Second World War were all painters. I drew and painted a lot as a child and because of family encouragement my life in the arts simply evolved. When I was a kid I assumed I would always be a writer and a draw-er and a painter. The only other career that appealed to me was the idea of being a Veterinarian, though I would have never had the needed particular discipline for that.
KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?
ANNA DIBBLE: In Vermont, when I was in my early 20s, I studied with a mentor/teacher named Lothar Wuerslin at a community college. I continued taking many courses through the years, but never went to art school. In fact I had terrible, discouraging art teachers in high school and college!
“Iris & Percy” 8 inch x 10 inch Oil & Wax
KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?
ANNA DIBBLE: Contemporary.
KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating art was absolutely something that you had to do?
ANNA DIBBLE: As I said above, there was no exact light bulb moment. I just followed my instinct without thinking about it very much. Later, I thought about it a lot. But not at first.
KATHERINE CARVER: Where have you previously worked as an artist? How did your current company, DibbleDog, come into existence?
ANNA DIBBLE: Most artists in our society wear many hats. In other Western cultures artists are given more government support, in a variety of ways. In the USA we are on our own, and have to learn the hard way. In my case I’ve done illustrations and writing for magazines and newspapers, designed and constructed sets for plays and operas, worked in art departments of animation companies in LA, SF, NYC, written and co-designed animation pieces for Sesame Street, taught children and adults in many mediums, designed a line of t-shirts, notecards, licensed characters, and shown my work in galleries in the Northeast. DibbleDog is simply the trademarked umbrella for my LLC that covers my gallery work, writing, and any commercial work I might have to do.
“Her Sisyphean Day” 36 inch x 36 inch Oil & Wax
KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin painting dogs and other animals?
ANNA DIBBLE: I grew up in a rural Vermont village and our family lived with an evolving menagerie of dogs, cats, wild birds, rabbits, mice, amphibians, reptiles, skunks, a porcupine, and raccoons. I camped and fished, and almost lived in the woods. My father was a naturalist, and taught me a lot about the wildlife in our lives. Most children innately connect with the other animals, but lose that interest as they age. That has never happened to me.
KATHERINE CARVER: How have your own dogs influenced your artwork?
ANNA DIBBLE: I have always drawn and painted various animals, but I began focusing more specifically on dogs when my husband and I adopted Pepper, a female black Lab mix – 7 and a half years ago. I have never actually painted her – the dogs in my paintings are fictional, but her presence and then the arrival of a second dog, a mutt named Radar, changed the subject matter in the paintings for awhile.
KATHERINE CARVER: Where do you show/exhibit your work?
ANNA DIBBLE: I recently had a show at the Sarah Doyle Gallery at Brown University in Providence, RI. I have shown in galleries throughout the northeast. Currently my main gallery is the West Branch Gallery in Stowe, Vermont. I also always have work at the Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont.
“The Bartender’s Lament” 16 inch x 20 inch Oil & Wax
KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative” mean to you?
ANNA DIBBLE: I really do not like what has happened to the word ‘creative’. As with many words, this word has been overused in such a huge variety of mostly bad commercial ways, that it no longer has the true meaning it once had as a word. I haven’t yet found a word to replace it. The old meaning – to me – meant making things out of nothing, and out of anything. Making things that come from a person’s imagination, past, present, future – and attempting to not be influenced by other people’s ways of thinking, being, imagining. It is a hands- on search for self.
KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?
ANNA DIBBLE: To be true to yourself in your work, without being influenced by the need or desire to make money.
KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?
ANNA DIBBLE: If I am not painting or writing I am uncomfortable with myself. I think the work itself inspires me.
“Jabberwhacky” (Tea Party Series) 30 inch x 40 inch Oil & Wax
KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most rewarding and satisfying part about being an artist and creating art?
ANNA DIBBLE: The mysterious part, the discoveries, the magic, and the great feeling of gratitude that I am very good at this, and I will always have that, and be able to do it, even when I’m very old. I’m a fortunate person in many ways.
KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your art?
ANNA DIBBLE: The Paris Review question. With painting I have to do prep work – layering under colors on the wooden panels, mixing colors and getting them right, cleaning brushes. I have a lot of reference material I use in odd ways – pin to the wall, glance at a line in someone else’s painting I tore out of an art magazine, old drawings and sketches I keep near my easel or work table, open books with paintings by Joan Brown, Mark Rothko, Bonnard, David Smith’s sculptures, etc. Never for copying – just getting into the feeling/voice I’m aiming for in an unconscious way. So I fiddle around a lot before getting to work, and sometimes even as I’m working. I do this with writing too.
KATHERINE CARVER: Looking back on your accomplishments, to date, what are you the most proud of?
ANNA DIBBLE: Nothing specific. I guess I’m most proud of the fact I have somehow – and I have no idea in the slightest how this happened – worked hard enough at painting and writing during the last 40 odd years to feel that now I am good at it – never good enough – years ahead to keep getting better, but I like a lot of what I end up doing on the boards and the papers, and on the screen. And that was not true for many decades.
“The Happy Picnic” 36 inch x 36 inch Oil & Wax
KATHERINE CARVER: What are you working on now?
ANNA DIBBLE: Right at this moment I’m working on an illustration for a piece I wrote called ‘Frogging’ that will be coming out in the July 13th issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal. I am also painting – continuing my series of bar and dinner table paintings, as well as beginning to break away from that series into something new.
KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?
ANNA DIBBLE: Oh, so many. But immediately – Roy de Forest (great dogs), Saul Steinberg, George Harriman (Krazy Kat), Richard Diebenkorn, Marsden Hartley, Giacometti, Red Grooms, Terry Winters, William Steig, David Smith, Joan Brown, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Maira Kalman, and many more.
KATHERINE CARVER: What piece(s) of your artwork is your favorite?
ANNA DIBBLE: I sometimes have a favorite piece, but then it is no longer a favorite piece because something else takes its place. Right now my favorite piece, I guess, is number 12 on the website portfolio, ‘The Birds’.
“The Birds” 24 inch x 30 inch Oil and Wax
KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
ANNA DIBBLE: Don’t do what I did and just feel your way through the woods. Either find a way to make a living that is somehow compatible with your art, and gives you the time and energy to do your work, or get an MFA or PHD and find a job teaching in a university. High school second best. Then you have summers and vacations, and if you teach in a university you will even have time in your working schedule to paint or sculpt or write. Making a living in the commercial arts is fine, but it is not conducive to expressing yourself artistically in a deeper more fulfilling way.
KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your art works?
ANNA DIBBLE: My website: http://www.annadibble.com is usually up to date with available work. Or my two galleries: West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Park in Stowe or Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury – both in VT, both have websites that have a page of my work. I also do commissions.
“Wumpy’s Remorse” 20 inch x 24 inch Oil and Wax
All images are courtesy of Anna Dibble.
You can read additional interviews here.