Ana Žanić

One Breath
Ana Žanić - watercolor, graphite and burn marks on wood panel, 12"x12"

The COVERT Collective is pleased to be participating in Femme Folks Fest 2022. Today we revisit the work of Ana Žanić, who we featured in May of 2021. Ana’s watercolours are like maps or ancient manuscripts, filled with the familiar stories of humanity. You can see a recent interview she did on Facebook by clicking here.

The first time you see Ana Žanić’s watercolor and pencil artwork is like taking a sharp blow to the limbic system. Every one of your senses screams “I know this” but cannot figure out what “this” is or why it knows it. They take on the form of something both organic and subliminal, communicating to us of the past (back to pre-history) and our deeply troubled emotional state we find ourselves in through the pandemic.

Her colour palettes are very natural and gently reassuring… mother earth will take us back into her bosom and help us heal. The meticulous marks speak of long journeys past, and reach out to our future selves to remind us that we have struggled before and have overcome those obstacles… we can do it again.

I reached out to Ana and asked her a few questions.

Your work is a very strong combination of the abstract and the meticulous, and you work in many different sizes (the notebooks to huge wall pieces). Can you speak to how long it takes you to complete these?

Smaller formats like a 9″x12″ piece can take as little as a day or two if I am looking for a simple statement, where the piece feels as if it happened in one breath. In other cases it can take me much longer, as I am coming back several times to the same piece with more details. Sometimes the work is not finished even after a few months. The really large paintings (like 99″x55″) can take me a few months or a year (or more) to get to the place where I feel the piece is resolved and finished.

My small sketchbooks, the ones I started during this pandemic are an ongoing process – I have been working on them for a full year now. So far I have eight of those pandemic sketchbooks, and none of them is completely finished.

Quarantine sketchbook - watercolor, pencil and burn marks
Personal Totem - watercolor and pencil on paper, 30"x22"
Quarantine sketchbook - watercolor, pencil and burn marks

When you start a work, do you have a general idea of what you want to do or is it more of a stream of consciousness? To my mind these are somewhat like dreamscapes.

I like to randomly open my sketchbooks, pick up one of the unfinished pages that I am drawn to at that particular moment, and continue working on it. This is very similar to almost all my work, even large scale, as I am not at all drawn to planning out my process. I see all my work as a time and place where I release myself from the need to control and plan, which is almost the opposite of how my mind works the rest of the time 😉

My art practice gives me a license not to be concerned with the outcomes, and to enjoy a sense of flow. I guess that is then reflected back in the work itself.

In my process, I see a metaphor for the duality of life; where certain things can be controlled, while others happen spontaneously.

Origin - watercolor on paper, 95"x55"
Flow Earth - watercolor on paper, 30"x22"
Moonrise series - watercolor, pencil and burn marks on paper

Can you tell me briefly about your artistic journey – how did you wind up here with these images?

My artistic journey goes way back to my earliest childhood. Ever since I was very little I was drawn to doodling and playing with clay. Many of my parents’ close relatives are visual artists by profession; some are painters, others sculptors and printmakers, several of them are also university art professors. Though both my parents and sister hold degrees in math and physics, my parents always recognized and encouraged my artistic expression, and bringing me up, they were in general never stifling.

I think the spontaneity I am drawn to relates greatly to the way I was brought up, with a general sense of freedom to often do what I like. Some might call this being spoiled, I guess.

In my work I am always interested in the spontaneity of the process, and a sense of life and intimacy. I am not interested in work that would be considered bold and striking, but rather I seek the expression that is quiet and calming. My works can, in a strange way, be seen as both optimistic and a bit melancholic at the same time. I guess at heart I am a true romantic.


Ana Zanic was born and educated in Croatia, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb, in 2002. She has been living in the United States since 2003.

Zanic’s art practice is an exploration of the formal visual elements, as well as personal feelings, through an intuitive process. Through abstract form she investigates questions of memories, origin and past.

The spontaneous and gestural activity of mark-making in Zanic’s work is closely tied to calligraphy, language and symbolic communication.

Zanic exhibited in twenty solo and over a hundred group exhibitions, in the United States and Croatia. Her work is in numerous private and public collections in the United States, Croatia, Italy, Germany, China and Australia. She is represented by Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York, Chicago Art Source Gallery 1871 in Chicago, and Walker Fine Art in Denver.

~ Posted by Mark Walton