Vibrant and passionate Toowoomba artist Anna Bartlett believes in a life saturated with colour. Anna Bartlett’s artistic imagination was ignited at age six when her mother, an artist, gave her a bucket of water and a brush, encouraging her to paint the length of their concrete driveway. “By the time I got to the top the bottom had dried so I’d go back and start all over again.”

After studying business at university, her passion led Anna to start Shiny Happy Art 15 years ago, selling bright paintings and handpainted handbags at local markets and online. She hoped her artwork would make people smile. “I started with paintings and handbags and then added screen-printed handkerchiefs, cushions and homewares, all made here in Toowoomba. People started asking me if I taught art and eventually I started running Paint Along sessions because that is something I was confident teaching.”

Bright and often illustrative, Anna’s paintings have evolved from featuring children, flowers and birds, to abstracts and landscapes. “Now that I’ve been teaching both Paint Alongs and Workshops for over seven years, my skills have improved alongside my students. I truly believe that art starts with really seeing what’s in front of you, and if you do that, you can draw and paint any subject.” Enthusiastic about colour, Anna’s paintings reveal her love of the world around her. “I really like bright colours. My natural colour palette is probably ‘rainbow’, and that’s what comes naturally to me. Colour definitely equates with happiness.”

As a teacher, Anna believes in everyone’s potential for artistic expression. “When I meet someone who’s nervous about their artistic ability, and work alongside them so that they feel confident and ‘just do it’, it’s very rewarding. With the right guidance, they really can paint or draw something that they are proud of. It’s the best thing about what I do.” Having taught more than 1500 students in her studio and online, Anna notes, “There is so much judgement with art especially in schools when marking and assessment is involved. Once you leave school, you can draw with nobody marking you. It’s a really useful and enjoyable skill.”

Anna also enjoys painting murals and has recently completed three rooms at Breastscreen Toowoomba and six walls at the Toowoomba Hospital. “A clinical location is certainly made warmer and more inviting by murals. They make the place better for both patients and staff.” Her murals at Toowoomba Central Childcare brightened up the courtyard considerably.

Part of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers this year, Anna continues to inspire others to indulge in art. “Drawing enriches our lives. I draw every day because it makes my life better.” Anna cannot foresee ever not drawing it helps her interpret and fully experience the world. “For me, it gives me stronger memories than a note in my diary or a photo. I can recall places and events in so much more detail when I’ve drawn them.”

From creating visual masterpieces to supporting her community, Anna certainly has sparkles running through her veins, living her life in full colour.

Readers also enjoyed this story about Kirra Moore and her Colourful Life.