Paint guru Annie Sloan has launched an online course to help bring more colour into our homes.
Words by Pendle Harte
“I’m Annie and I’m here to help you make your house really lovely.” So begins Annie Sloan’s new online course, designed to instil confidence in all of us to add colour to our homes. Sloan is known for her own range of chalk paints that are versatile and easy to use, and throughout the course she uses her own colours, painting everything from floors and walls to ceramics, furniture and even textiles. Her philosophy is clear: there’s nothing that can’t be improved with a bit of colour.
Even post-Covid, online courses are a winner. This one belongs to Create Academy, where it sits alongside a world of practical knowledge. There are gardening courses, cooking courses and lots of exploration into decorative arts and interiors, all led by industry experts. You can cook with Thomasina Miers, arrange flowers with Willow Crossley and redesign your house with Kate Watson-Smyth, all from the comfort of your own desk. Complete each course in your own time, and return to it as often as you like – the idea is simple, and requiring little upfront commitment, we can all imagine ourselves as thriving amateur chefs/florists/upholsterers.
Or, in this case, painters. As Annie says from the start, it’s all about confidence. Painting your floor takes a bit of courage, while deciding on which colour to paint an old chest of drawers is something you might need support with. Annie’s tone is gentle and encouraging. “Some people think they’re not creative and they need help – well, we all need help. This is about gaining confidence… People often don’t know what they want, so I want to help people bring what they want out.” The course takes in a host of practical applications, including painting kitchen cupboards as well as more complicated tasks such as decoupage and stencilling, plus different finishes and advice on painting everything from lampshades to metal ornaments.
It all starts with her paint, which is designed to be accessible, easy to work with and quick to dry – and to stick to all surfaces without a primer. She developed it when her children were small and she was painting in a rush, hoping for her work to be dry before their little fingers smudged it. “I wanted to make tools for people to be creative. I’m not prescribing – these are colours to mix. There’s no black in them; normal paints have lots of black pigment in them, but these don’t, so that you can mix them yourself and see how they work together, with tones and shadow.”
What Annie calls her ‘global perspective’ derives from having grandparents all born in different countries. When she went to art school she developed an interest in art from all over the world, and particularly in artists who do more than one thing. “Ben Nicholson, for instance, not only painted but also printed linocuts onto cloth. Salvador Dali made films and jewellery. So I’ve always taken inspiration from that,” she says.
We watch her wander around Sunbury Antiques Market, inspecting pieces with an eye on what she could paint. Damaged pieces are particularly good, she says. She’s interested in Swedish painted furniture and folk pieces, farm pieces and grand pieces, and is on the lookout for ways to add vitality and ‘little pops of colour’ to a room. The first thing to do, she believes, if you’re starting to think about colour, is to visit Charleston. You’ll come home wanting to paint everything, she believes. “I look around and think, what can I paint?”
The aim of this new course is “to give you joy and happiness in your own home. It’s about changing your whole way of looking at things. Painting is a way to express your individuality and creativity,” she says. And you can’t go wrong, because you can always repaint. Pretty much everything looks better painted, she maintains. “Even ugly ceramics covered in, say, fat cherubs. Just half close your eyes and imagine what it would look like painted.” We’ll start with that.
How to Fill Your Home With Colour, 22 lessons, costs £127 at createacademy.com