Meet our very own Renaissance Woman
Anne Huth says she was born with a gift for art.
“I used to tell the kids at school I was Leonardo da Vinci re-incarnated,” she said.
“I can write left and right-handed, back to front and upside down.”
And like her hero Leonardo, Anne has been able to turn her hand to almost anything she puts her mind to.
Over the years, as well as painting and drawing, she has turned her skills to making ceramic pottery, farming, building websites, holding exhibitions, got a business degree, became a teacher and, at after a lifetime of creative endeavour, and at an age when most people are thinking of winding down and retiring, Anne attained an art degree.
Is there anything she can’t do?
“Well, I wasn’t very interested in music or writing,” she says.
The Early Years – mixing art with business
Growing up in Bundaberg, her talent for drawing and painting was instrumental in developing her entrepreneurial skills at a young age.
“I started selling my art in high school,” Anne said.
“I was even doing nudes and selling them to the boys!
“I won a big award in the Bundaberg Arts Festival in 1979.”
After school Anne married her first husband, Herb, and they had two daughters.
“I was doing a bit of art while bringing up the girls,” she said.
“I’d set up a ceramic artwork business where I designed and made ceramic tourist items.
“Then in 1985 Herb was transferred to Gladstone with the railways and I decided I needed something else to work on, so I studied a business degree.
“I’m pretty good with maths, and art is all about maths.”
She soon found work with an accountant, then in a solicitors’ office, and began teaching business subjects at TAFE.
Then, her life took another Leonardo-like turn.
“One day I went to buy something for the kitchen and couldn’t get it,” Anne said.
“So, out of the blue, I decided to set up a shop!”
For the next six years Anne would own and manage The Cooks Paradise until a health issue forced her to close the store.
“Herb eventually got a transfer to Brisbane, and we’d bought a place at Conondale for holidays and retirement and planned to spend the rest of our there,” Anne said.
“But Herb died suddenly, he was only 53. Whenever someone says they’re coming up to 53 I get nervous.
(Note: when I mention I’m turning 53 this year Anne looks genuinely worried 😊 )
“I carried on at the farm with the cattle and slashing the grass, I even wheel-stood the tractor on the steep driveway!”
A fresh start in Gladstone
A friendship with a long-standing friend of the family, Ron Streeter, developed into something more.
“Herb used to go down to Ron’s garage on his days off,” Anne said.
“He was always working on cars and Ron would let him loose on the tools every now and then.
“After Herb died, Ron used to come and see if I was OK.
“I spent a few weeks at Conondale and when I came back to Gladstone I asked Ron to come for tea, after which he asked me out.
“We got along really well and eventually married.”
Then Anne made another decision that would have made Leonardo smile.
The Teacher becomes a Student
“I’d been holding exhibitions and selling artwork,” she said.
“But then I started my art degree in 2011.
“I’d got to the stage where I thought, ‘Yep! I’m doing it!’
“As part of my studies we spent several weeks in Paris and one of the highlights was visiting Monet’s garden, which I loved.
“But I also like Mattisse and others from the impressionist era as well as the expressionists and abstract painters.”
After completing her degree in 2015 this Renaissance woman didn’t rest on her laurels, she decided it was time to learn how to build websites.
“The internet has been a game changer for artists,” she said.
“Art is reaching people markets it’s never reached before, and dropping out of others.
“My advice to any artist is to learn to use the internet and make it work for you.
“If you’ve got a website you have to learn SEO, you have to know what the current modelling of the SEO is.
“I spend so much time on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, blogging and updating the website it’s almost a full-time job!
“So far I’ve had customers from around Australia, Spain and Britain.”
Advice for budding artists
“For starters they’ll need some sort of part-time job to sustain them, but go for it!” she said.
1. Work Hard Find Your Niche
“It’s a lot of effort, you have to do the work to find a market or capture one.
“Being an artist is a tough gig, it’s difficult to make a living in the regions. “You have to get your work into the southern markets by approaching the galleries and places that sell art.”
“But everything’s changing so much, you really need to get some fresh thoughts now.
2. Find a Mentor
Anne was also a foundation member of Creative Gladstone which morphed into Crow Street Creative group of artists and she encourages anyone interested in art to join them.
“There will be someone in one of those groups who you’ll click with, someone who will encourage you,” she said.
“I have a small mentoring group who meet at my place regularly.
“We critique each other’s work, build each other up and talk shit!”
“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing,” Anne said.
“I’m getting back into the market with more exhibitions locally.
Jewellery as well?
“I told you I’m Leonardo!” she laughs.