Main Street mural artist stretches talent in new directions
The Georgetown entry form read, “Main Street Program seeks mural art entries . . . that may be a single image or a series of panels that fill the 10-by-30-foot space.” Anna Sebesta is primarily an illustrator, not a muralist, but she saw this contest as an opportunity to stretch her artistic boundaries.
A Firm Foundation in Art
Anna has always loved art and remembers her parents encouraging her creative endeavors from an early age. Anna grew up in an artistic family. Her mom was very musical and played the piano, and her father is a landscape designer.
After high school, Anna headed off to the University of Southern Mississippi to study art, but she missed home, so she came back to Texas and finished the last two years of her studio art degree at Austin College in Sherman. She worked for a while after that—in the framing department at Hobby Lobby—but wanted to enhance her art education. So she applied and was accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where she earned her BFA in illustration.
Anna says that in illustration an artist learns “to work in a certain style—your own unique style—so that your clients will know what to expect,” and that’s exactly what she has done. Her signature color palette features neutrals primarily—blacks, whites, and browns—accented with small splashes of bright color—say, red, purple, or green. She creates the brown shades by staining her paper with coffee. When Anna first tried this technique, she says, “I had to do a couple of runs and make the coffee really strong” to get the depth of color that she wanted. Anna utilizes a variety of media in her illustrations, including graphite, colored pencils, watercolor, and linoleum printing—a technique in which paint is rolled onto a carved piece of rubber, then flipped onto the paper and burnished so that the paint sticks to the paper. This combining of techniques results in a richly layered finished piece.
But Anna’s unique style is also a result of her ability to capture her viewers’ imaginations by incorporating design elements of the things she loves, such as nature, yoga, and poetry. For one of her school projects, she created an art piece for each of the seven chakras frequently referenced in yoga. In planning the illustrations, Anna says, “I looked up what each chakra represented. For instance, the first chakra stands for stability and comfort, so what would that look like if I drew lines to represent it?” Then she created a mandala (a geometric figure) for each chakra and incorporated it into the illustration. Anna says, “I discovered that I like designing mandalas. It’s very meditative, and I like to combine them with the more natural elements.” In the yoga pieces she also included a yoga pose, as well as her own poetry.
In another illustration, developed for the Savannah Music Festival, the cables of a famous Savannah bridge transform into musical strings that are plucked by a musician’s hands. Using the neutral colors she favors and red accents, Anna incorporated the geometric bridge lines with the organic shape of the hands to stir her viewers’ imaginations.
Reaching for Something New
When Anna first saw the information about the Georgetown mural contest, she thought, “Maybe I should do something for that.” She had never done a mural before, but this contest spoke to Anna for two reasons. First, the winner’s painting was to be printed on canvas and then attached to the wall, so she didn’t need to know all the specific techniques for painting on a large brick wall. And second, the work was for Georgetown! Anna loves her hometown, and she saw this contest as an opportunity to expound that love through her art. For her entry piece, she chose to go with her neutral palette and highlight some of Georgetown’s well-known architecture. Anna hopes that when people look at the mural, they see “that Georgetown is multifaceted,” with “a rich historical background.” She feels so honored to have won.
And Anna continues to take on new artistic endeavors. She says that her art is constantly evolving, taking her in new directions. Recently, Anna began designing sympathy cards. The idea for the cards formed after she had searched for a sympathy card, only to come up empty-handed. So she decided to create one herself, using her own art and poetry and incorporating her love of nature. Anna came across a paper embedded with seeds. She explains that her cards “will have a separate piece of seeded paper included that you can plant in honor of a loved one.”
Who knows where her next idea will take her! But as Anna continues working on her illustration projects, she has also decided that she wants to share her love of art with kids, so she is earning her Texas teaching certification. There’s no doubt that her future students will be lucky to have this talented artist helping them stretch their own creativity, even as she continues to expand her own.