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With the arrival of October, we now enter the final quarter of an otherwise dismal and forgettable year. While Covid-19 has gripped the world in a state of high anxiety, we still move forward in our passions. For many artists, that mission still demands hard work and determination. Despite the odds, we use our gift to move mountains, to paint landscapes and seascapes, to dream beyond the stars – far beyond the confines of an ordinary mind. For one such artist, this pursuit requires even more strength, resilience and fortitude. Her name is Ana Corral-Kelly, and despite our worldly fears of Covid-19, she endures this challenge with the additional burden of Multiple Sclerosis. A debilitating disease, Ana has been living with this unwanted guest since 1999. Yet here she is... determined as ever to show the world that she can still paint... that a disease will not stop her from living her life. With a feisty Spanish bloodline, Ana now lives in Australia with her family. She has a warm personality and works hard to fulfill her destiny as an artist. Now let's take a little detour and see how Ana manages through these turbulent times...

Ana, welcome to Reprehensible Digest. Tell the audience about yourself – your background, where you're from, what you specialize in as an artist...
I am a self-taught artist and proud to be one. Thank you so much for having me, I appreciate it. I was born in 1968 in Madrid Spain, but came to Australia when I was only one years old. My parents could not decide whether to live between Spain or Australia. I basically knew I had something special when I was eight years old. At 13 years I knew that special gift was art.

How long have you been an artist and when did you realize this was your calling?
I started with pencil, then oils, then decided acrylic paint was my thing. I've always used oils, acrylics, pencil, color pencils, and crayons. You name it, I probably used it. I've tried just about anything that comes into my head. My first artwork was actually a horse's head in a coloring in book, where it has numbers that tell you what color paint to apply and where. I found this way too easy, so I decided to try painting originally and loved it. I was only eight years old then.

What mediums do you prefer working with and what are your favorite brands?
I prefer acrylic paints because they are non-smelly. The colors are amazing and the variety of choices are superb. It dries nicely and all you need to do is dilute the paint with water on your brush.

Do you ever visit your native Spain? And what brought you to the "Land Down Under"?
My parents couldn't decide where to live, and my mum got divorced when I was 18 years old. I decided at 18 to take my mother away from my father… to reunite her with her other two sons here in Sydney. I will visit my family in Spain whenever I can, but my father passed away in Spain in September of 2019.

Have your works been exhibited in any galleries or professional venues?
I've had four exhibitions total, and I'm due for another after this yucky dilemma. One is based on my latest landscape art. The first exhibit was my largest artwork (1m x 1m). The second was my mixed media, mixed sizes and style. The third was an African photo art that I adored creating. My friend was the photographer and we printed it so I could paint over and enhance her photo. The fourth was a solo exhibition. It was a photo I snapped in Israel that I enhanced by painting over my print. I'm due for a fifth exhibition soon, featuring only my relaxing landscape and seascape art.

It seems you are really into seascapes. Explain your love for this particular theme.
Painting seascapes and landscapes give me a relaxing sensation. I hope to bring this feeling to everyone else who enjoys my works, especially now due to 2020 being a rather awful year. Also because of my disability, I am unable to see these landscapes and seascapes with my own eyes. I often recreate my vision of back from when I was able to freely explore the world. It feels a lot more creative for me than most people can understand.

Many of your works are Spanish-style motifs. Is this an influence from your Spanish heritage?
I do have the Spanish blood inside me and it clearly shows in my art. I tend to use a red-yellow-red combination which represent the Spanish flag. The Spanish red dress – my wedding dress – was Spanish. My theme was Spanish. I had Spanish dancers at our wedding and love the Spanish hand fans, so our invitations were on Spanish fans. Even our wedding cake had the Spanish fan on top. My 50th birthday theme was also Spanish, so everyone had to dress in Spanish costumes.

Name three other artists who have influenced your style or taste?
My favorite was Salvador Dali. I really loved his backgrounds, which I was later told that he never actually painted his backgrounds, he only painted surrealism. I'd love to one day find out who created his backgrounds. I also love the work of Jim Musil. These are my two favorites because I adore their skies. It's all about skies and beautiful backgrounds for me.

What is your proudest moment as an artist? What is your biggest achievement?
My smile and tilted head means that I love it. Art was a gift to me that will never be taken away. Art is special. There is no need to think, it will come from within you naturally. I do fall in love with art when I have accomplished my work. With art, you need to feel the moment. Art is a huge part of me, but I was also given Multiple Sclerosis for a reason. I also have a wonderful husband and two boys for a reason. I don't have too many big achievements yet. I have many small moments that mean a lot to me. All of my murals will forever have a special place in my heart – my favorite being the one at a Greek restaurant, which was of the Greek Islands.

Sef Berkers Art

How does the affliction of Multiple Sclerosis affect your ability to create art?
I was diagnosed in 1999. The only difficult situation with having a disability is that it's hard to set up. By painting standing, it is hard as I tend to get tired fast. My hands are strong, but my legs are not. My mind always has thoughts and visions to create. I want people to share my art, that's why I sometimes give them away for free. That's why I did a free school mural, to make people smile. I also make sure that when I do give away art to people, that it is only to kind people. All I expect is in return is a smile.

Do you find this disability prevents you from reaching your full potential as an artist?
Yes, of course! I am often unable to attend exhibitions that I am invited to. Also, like I've previously stated, I find it very difficult to do murals and large scale paintings which are my favorite. This becomes very frustrating, but art does change my feelings sometimes – often for the better. It usually lifts my mood and makes me happy because it's something I really enjoy.

What advice would you give to other artists who suffer from disabilities?
Smile and enjoy your art. We may be stuck with bad things like Multiple Sclerosis... and it's truly harder for those of us who have this disability, but life is way too short, so make the most of it. Do not dwell or feel sorry for yourself. Be strong because we are all different.

Does art help you through difficult times? Is creating art therapeutic for you on a spiritual level?
Art is very therapeutic. We all need something like this in our lives. We need to smile more often. We all have something good in our life, to be grateful for and to be kind. I'm lucky that I not only enjoy and love art, but I am good at it too… therefore I am trying to make a career out of it.

Do you have any other subjects or themes that you would enjoy exploring as an artist?
I have done many themes in the past. Being a self-taught artist, which I am proud of, landscapes and seascape are my wishful thoughts. I can no longer take walks for long periods of time. I can no longer go into the water as my Multiple Sclerosis hates water. I can no longer go to certain places or see some lovely scenery due to the fact that I cannot get to that particular place. Once I paint, it is a wishful thought that is triggered when I create it.

How does social media play a role in your identity as an artist?
I tend to post my art up on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. I like people to see my art – that's why I have a website to share my art. I like to share it with my followers and friends because it allows them to see what me and my family are up to. It also allows them to see what kind of work I am doing.

You have a feisty, yet fun personality. You also have a strong will to keep working. Is this an accurate observation?
Correct. I have a massive smile and bubbly personality. I tend to talk a lot, which I cannot help. My problem is that I speak out the truth and find that a lot of people do not like that.

Is your family supportive of your passion?
Yes, they are always full of compliments. I have full support. The only real challenge is getting my art out there – that is difficult. Being surrounded by family and friends that adore me, that is enough.

What are your long-term goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
I can't judge ahead right now because of my disability. If you were to ask me this question thirty odd years ago when I had just gotten into the art world, I'd have told you that I would be known throughout the country. While it may not be very realistic, you have to think big and dream even bigger.

Any additional skills, hobbies, or interests you'd like to share with the audience – fascinating statements about the artist known as Ana-Corral Kelly? Feel free to elaborate.
Not really. Having a disability means it is hard to pick up hobbies. Yet, as a self-taught artist, I can paint just about anything. I tend not buy art because I can paint any style. I can have a favorite artist, other than that I'm the best. I know people will never understand this, but it's true… I am.

Bonus questions featured with each gallery image!