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Art makes you come alive.

I believe that art is a means to travel where we want or need to go: back in touch with our broken-open, beautiful hearts; down to the core of our creative cravings; or out on a wild adventure so we can return home more alive. Making art is an awakening.  Artwork makes rooms come alive - the energy of the artist is in them. Sharing this energy is why I make art.  Moments when we are truly connected to flow—like when we are out in the surf, riding a wave—or immersed in color, connecting with artwork, painting our hearts out, trusting our truth—moments like this connect us to our power, our humanity and to our infinite possibility. 

Moments like this make it all worth it.

I am a painter working in acrylic and mixed-media, but I'm really a woman astonished at the beauty of life and trying my best to express it while I'm here. It's been said that I paint from a place of wonder.  My paintings are figurative - drawing strongly on imagery from the real world - and I build them upon an abstract architecture of color and marks. I am a storyteller in my style of painting, writing, and teaching - and you'll find that each series of paintings has a narrative that goes with it. I earned a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts (BFA) with a focus in painting and surface design on fibers from the University of Oregon. I have a professional studio art practice in Portland, Oregon, USA. I teach workshops around the Pacific Northwest and online. 

My name, Annamieka, is pronounced “Aw-nuh-MEE-kuh”.

video by Brave Alice | song "Birds and Stars" by Elephant Revival (used with love and permission.)

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Formative years:

Drawing, painting and exploring nature have always been my favorite things to do. My first job as an artist was at age 15, as the staff illustrator for the teen section of the local newspaper. My family and I often went backpacking into Oregon’s wilderness areas. My mom is an actress, playwright, and poet who raised us to be creative and adventurous. I learned to surf in Oregon’s frigid waters and I fell in love with the ocean. A trip to Bali as a teenager changed the way I saw the world. I felt so at home in a culture that included the arts as a vital part of everyday life.  The vibrant layering process of batik that I learned in Bali still informs my work today, and led me to get my BFA in painting & surface design on fibers from the University of Oregon.

Cancer & healing:

In college, I was diagnosed with cancer - a type of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - and I underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment during my sophomore year. I created an illustrated booklet about the experience, called Chrysalis: Cancer and Healing Storybook both to help me gain closure and to be a resource for others.

After cancer, I went to work in healthcare.  I wanted to put my experience to use. I worked as a care coordinator for uninsured patients with cancer. I worked as a Spanish interpreter in healthcare settings in Oregon, and Mexico, and Guatemala.  I went back to school and completed courses in pre-med, botany, herbalism, and massage therapy and became an LMT.  I worked in the local hospital.  I started a private practice as an LMT. 

Embracing the mystery:

All along, I taught art. I did public art projects with kids and I worked at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, where I still teach to this day. But after a lifetime of school, I struggled without structured assignments and deadlines. There was no linear career path to follow as an artist. I fell out of touch with my own studio art practice in those first years after college. I hadn’t made art my career right away and I feared it was already too late. Working in healthcare felt somehow much more worthy than art, and it felt much more safe. 

But my soul was yelling at me to get back to painting.  I begrudgingly picked up a copy of “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  This book had been a mainstay on my mom’s bookshelf, and I regarded it as antiquated and uncool.  Twelve chapters later, however, that book had become my beloved friend, and I had tearfully reclaimed my artist self.  I embraced the mystery and let the art guide me.

Returning home to art:

I finally gave myself permission to return to art, and pursue it as a career full-time.  Once I made that commitment, things grew from there. But it didn’t happen overnight. That first year that I reclaimed my art practice, I timidly approached a local venue and asked to have a solo show. It was my first show in my new city, Portland. I remember being so shy about my art that after I made all the paintings and hung my show, I didn’t invite anyone to the opening - including my husband!  Oh, geez. We are our own worst critics, for sure. 

Eventually my confidence grew, enough to move forward, anyway. I painted my heart out. I found that the more I painted and discovered in my own art practice, the more I wanted to turn around and teach and share. It felt like a complete cycle of creativity.  I found a studio and I started teaching more art and nature workshops. For the first few years, I kept my massage table in my painting studio and worked both careers side-by-side. I signed up for business classes, and found mentors, and read books and applied for every grant and loan I qualified for to get my art career off the ground.  As I made art and shared it, my world came to life.

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Art brings your world to life!

I now create and teach art for the pure joy of it.  Doubt still creeps in all the time but I do my work anyway. I trust my job as a maker, and teacher. And I trust that the art and classes I create will reach the people who need them. I like to tell my students, “love what you create, and set it free…” Your work is needed in this world.  If you have a calling to make art, follow that desire like it is your true North. I believe that joy is an indication that we are indeed walking our soul’s path. Do more of what brings you joy. Share it with the world. Come alive!