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Artist Profile: Anna Ladefoged

Anna Ladefoged Creates Magic From Nature’s Depths

By Ellen Samsell Salas

Anna Ladefoged begins each painting using just one color to render the lights and darks, shapes, and positions that help the viewer read her images. She then adds white “to bump the values up.” Even in this nascent gray scale stage, the painting is remarkable in its depth. Once she completes this “under painting,” she adds color, but, she adds, “I don’t go into colors too quickly.”

Ladefoged describes her painting as “contemporary realism – a little bit of abstract, a little bit of realism. I just paint what I see.” Not locked into one subject or one style, she captures both the beauty and mystery of nature. Her impressionistic compositions are composed of rich colors, dynamic lines, and fluid strokes. Some abstract works surprise the viewer by including depictions of realistic birds, while serene landscapes might amuse viewers with cartoon-like birds winging their way across the canvas.

Her paintings reflect what she is dealing with at the time. She’s open to seeing what is not merely on the surface of reality. Ladefoged’s goal, however, is not to impose one meaning, but to allow viewers to find their own meanings in her paintings.

“Art can speak to you,” she said, “Not in the same way for everyone, but that’s what is beautiful about it.”

A wife, mother, and primary school art teacher, Ladefoged also loves to work with ceramics, to take “a pile of clay” and let it tell her what it wants to be. Although she doesn’t paint every day, she does spend time in her studio each day.

“Even if it’s just sitting, not holding a brush, but staring at what I’m working on, I feel like I am creating,” she said. “I sit, look, observe, letting my brain decide what needs to happen next.”

Most often, Ladefoged opts for the smooth surface of wood as her canvas. For tools, she just “grabs a few cheap Utrecht black brushes.” In abstract works, she sometimes uses a palette knife to apply paint and add texture. Loving color, she works almost exclusively in oils and can get lost in the mixing stage, capturing the many hues she sees in nature. Using a technique of the Dutch masters, she glazes her works with oil paints mixed with linseed oil, then scumbles them, adding opaque paint and creating depth.

Once she begins, she said, “I feel very in tune with everything. It’s like a flow. I am 100% there, hyper focused. I’m not thinking of anything else.”

As children drawn to creating, she and her younger brother Marshall Jones, now a respected artist himself, painted giant murals on their bedroom walls. “I’ve always wanted to make things,” Ladefoged said. “Artists are driven by the need to put out there what we see. To take nothing and make something. That’s magic to me.”

To view more of Ladefoged’s work, visit her social media pages at or @annagiventofly on Instagram.