Meet Anna Bellenger
She’s Called Jenner’s Pond Home Since 2019
A love of wagging tails and watercolors
Anna Bellenger has many happy memories: her wedding day, her daughter’s wedding day, the births of her children—and winning “Best of Breed” at the 1997 Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Garden, with her Norwich Terrier, Ch. Chestnut Hills Royal Blue, or just “Blue” for short. Anna, owned the dog and handled him in the show ring, and Blue beat out 20 other dog/handler teams that day.
What she doesn’t remember is a time when she didn’t make art.
Learning a new way to see
Anna was born in 1935 in Wilmington, Delaware, and she attended Friends School there. School was challenging. She struggled with dyslexia until she discovered art—specifically, mirror-image block printing. Suddenly, everything clicked. She earned an associate of arts degree from Southern Seminary Junior College (now Southern Virginia University), where she studied under Cy Twombly, a noted modern painter, sculptor and photographer whose works are in the permanent collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She worked in printmaking and mixed media for many years, until a friend showed her JMW Turner’s technique for using rabbit skin glue on paper for watercolor.
“I added a few ideas and made it my own,” Anna says. “It is not the lovely loose flowing watercolor, but very tight detailed work that I get lost in for days at a time. I had a wonderful teacher in Cy Twombly. He gave me the tools I needed and ‘let me go.’”
The art of life
And “go” she did! The Hardcastle Gallery in Delaware represents Anna’s work, and she has shown in regional, national and even international exhibitions. She moved to Jenner’s Pond in 2019, and in March 2020 had a solo exhibition called Games On & Off the Sidewalk through the Chester County Art Association. Unfortunately, the live show closed early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her watercolors have won numerous “Best in Show” awards at juried shows, including the 2017 Delaware Watercolor Society’s Show at The Biggs Museum, and she has received recognition for her body of work. In October 2020, she received the Women in Arts Award from the Chester County Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for her “mastery of the watercolor medium, her work in mixed media and her innovative dry brush, highly opaque watercolor technique.” She is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society and other artists’ groups, and is treasurer of The Howard Pyle Studio.
Painting by the book
Anna is featured in Catherine Quillman’s book Artists of the Brandywine Valley as well as Speaking for Themselves: The Artists of South Eastern Pennsylvania by Daphne Landis. She has also been involved in several book projects herself. She illustrated Knick-Knack, a children’s book by Clella Bay Murray, a fellow Jenner’s Pond resident, and Outside In, a book of poetry by Carol Hixon. She self-published Anna’s Animals. Her latest project is Sky High, a children’s counting book, featuring animals on weather vanes. Not only did she write and illustrate it, but she is sewing book covers with handles for 200 copies.
Anna’s advice for aging well is to “have an interest and keep your mind moving!” She is certainly doing that, painting with passion and enjoying life at Jenner’s Pond.