Born in England, of Polish and English parents, Syperek studied painting, drawing and art history at York University in Toronto, before moving to Antigonish in 1971 and teaching herself watercolor painting. In 1977, she went back to school at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, N.S. to study printmaking, earning her BFA in 1980. She then returned to Antigonish to set up her own etching/printmaking studio at her home overlooking St. George's Bay. During her career, Anna has received numerous awards across Canada for her artwork, including the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant to travel to England to paint and study. Well known for her etchings, watercolours and recent oils, Syperek also teaches university drawing and etching classes. She is a member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour and the Nova Scotia Printmakers Association.
Her work can be found in galleries in the Maritimes, Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, in the Canada Council Art Bank, the Nova Scotia Art Bank, Petro Canada, Via Rail and other corporate collections, and in many private collections across Canada, the United States and abroad.
I enjoy working in different media, and painting is much freer than etching, which takes much thought and preplanning to work with, or get around, the technical limitations and challenges. But painting, to me, almost plans itself as I sit on location. So much happens as I sit there, with weather, bugs, things growing, shadows moving, that I feel that I am working with the subject that I’m painting. Even with oils that are too big to paint on location, I draw a detailed sketch that helps me get the feel of what it was like being there.
Much of what I paint is just around my house – looking out the window at breakfast , or something I see on the way in to town. Sometimes, I’m hit over the head with an image that I just must paint, or sometimes I see the same thing over and over and then suddenly I’m seeing it in a different way, and what I see is full of meaning, significance and beauty. I try to recreate that “seeing”, revealing the truth, unity and coherence of everyday life.
One of my favourite artists, David Milne, once said, “Feeling is the power that drives art. There doesn’t seem to be a more understandable word for it, though there are others that give something of the idea: aesthetic emotion, quickening, bringing to life. Or call it love, not love of man or woman or home or country or any material thing, but love without an object- intransitive love.”
Anna Syperek, 2020