Q&A with Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan, UK based paint company well known for the invention of Chalk Paint in 1990, is a brand synonymous with colour and interior design. Now with a collection boasting a wide variety of colours and with the addition of Wall Paint and Satin Paint, it has quickly become one of the leading names within the world of paint.
We caught up with Annie herself to learn more about the brand, where she gets her inspiration from and top tips on choosing the right paint colour.
What inspired you to launch Annie Sloan the brand?
I am a fine artist - I did a Fine Art degree at Croydon School of Art and then an MA in Fine Art at Reading University. After university I decided using art in a practical way was what I wanted to do, and I earned my living by painting murals on commission and teaching lost paint techniques like marbling and gilding. I developed a passionate enthusiasm for colour and started collecting old reference books on the history and use of paint in different interiors around the world. I just couldn’t find a paint that would do everything I needed. I wanted colours that were subtle and full of depth and a finish that was soft, not harsh and shiny. I also wanted something that would work on lots of different surfaces without preparation. I realised there was a gap in the market.
I started making my own paints at home using milk, yoghurt and glue but it was a chance encounter in Holland that led me to finding a paint factory in Belgium who could make the kind of paint for furniture I was looking for and Annie Sloan Chalk Paints was born. Nowadays we make our paint in our factory in Oxford where our offices are also based and, of course, we have a range of Wall Paint and Satin Paint too.
Where do you seek inspiration for new paint colours?
I find inspiration everywhere. I often find myself looking back at historical pigments. For instance, my Chalk Paint colour Arles, was inspired by the town in the south of France where a wide range of earthy yellow ochres are dug straight from the ground and Chalk Paint in Primer Red is a dark red colour found in practically every culture, appearing in everything from Venetian palaces to Vietnamese temples, where red earths were plentiful and relatively easy to come by.
Art is in my blood. I love the history of art as a painter, not as an academic, and so I love to look to the past for colours to inspire me. I love Goya, Eric Ravilious and English painters of the 1950s. Many of my paints are inspired by artists or places artists lived and worked. Chalk Paint in Giverny is named after the village in Northern France where Claude Monet lived, and Chalk Paint in Whistler Grey is inspired by the works of 19th century American-born artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
I also have a passion for travel and have travelled all round the world in my pursuit of colour! You will see many of my Wall Paint colours are named after places around the world.
What are your favourite places to travel for inspiration and why?
I travel all over the world for my work – and I spend a lot of time in America. It is Britain though that inspires me the most. Britain has such an amazing history and trade links with so many countries that we have taken influences from India, Europe, China and, well, just about everywhere! We are such a diverse and multi-cultural country and so everywhere you travel in Britain you will find inspiration from all over the world.
Britain is also such a creative country. We have a passion for art, fashion and design and we celebrate artistic talent. A huge influence for me and my painting is Charleston Farmhouse. I discovered the Bloomsbury group of artists and their country retreat, Charleston Farmhouse, whilst studying Fine Art. The Bloomsbury group included some of the twentieth century’s most pioneering artists, writers and thinkers – people who believed in debate, creativity, beauty, innovation and truth and whose work was guided by a sense of fun, freedom and irreverence. It’s this spirit I love and keeps me coming back to Britain for inspiration.
What are your top tips for using Annie Sloan paint? Are there any specific techniques to be aware of?
Chalk Paint is a decorative furniture paint specifically designed to be easy to use, quick, and reliable. It very rarely requires any preparation, such as sanding or priming, and can be used indoors or outside, on just about any surface. It can be used to paint wood, it can be used to paint metal, it can be used to paint melamine, it can be used to paint flooring, it can be used to dye fabric, and it can even be used to paint glass! My top tip is to just roll your sleeves up and get started!
It is a paint to do anything, and you can create different finishes depending on how you use it. Two coats of Chalk Paint followed with Clear Chalk Paint Wax gives a luxuriously velvety finish which looks beautiful in every home. Add a little water and spread it out with your brush to give a smooth finish, thicken it up by leaving the lid off and painting it on in layers, or make it into a see-through wash by adding even more water. Use my Flat Brushes for a modern look or my Chalk Paint Brushes for a more textured aged look.
With so many great colours to choose from, what are your top tips for selecting the right paint shade for your interiors? Do you have a favourite colour?
Don’t follow trends. Pick colours that spark joy, and you will always make the right choice. Don’t be limited by the colours you see in my palette - you can mix my Chalk Paints together easily to create new colours, so you have an unlimited colour palette. There is no black in most of my colours, so they won’t go sludgy or grey when you mix them or add white to them. Just have fun with colour and don’t be afraid. The worst that can happen is that you don’t like the shade you’ve picked – then just paint over it!
I am not sure I have a favourite colour. I love them all. I love greens, blues, pinks and yellows. That’s most of the colour wheel already!
If I had to choose, I would say at the moment I am loving greens and I love them particularly with yellows for quite a strong look.
I also love greens with pink for a crazy kind of Wes Anderson look.
With upcycling on the rise, do you have any tips for someone wanting to try furniture upcycling for the first time?
It’s just another of those don’t be afraid answers. Just buy something you love the shape of, and you won’t go far wrong. If it’s an ugly shape, painting it won’t change it, but a lovely piece in an ugly or damaged finish can always be transformed. Change the handles, change the legs, paint the insides of cabinets. Paint over glass. Just try it. If you don’t like it, you can just paint over it. Once you’ve created your first piece there will be no stopping you!
What are your favourite paint and fabric combinations?
I absolutely love striped ticking and linens. They are traditional but always look modern and I find the softer tones work with my paints. In fact, one of my favourite cool neutral paints, French Linen, is a colour inspired by the colour of aged natural linen and Canvas is a slightly warm neutral beige-white named after the backdrop fabric.