I met Annie, many years ago when I first moved to Cornwall and loved her positive energy. Annie has a shining spirit that radiates through to her work which is full of magical dancing tree spirits, Angels, guardians and feminine energy. She is a very spiritual person and has had the privilege of meeting the Dalai Lama, which caused a significant shift in her artistic direction and led to the creation of her first book for children, ‘The Hare and the wise old Apple Tree’.
What was it like to meet the Dalai Lama? How did the experience lead you to create The Hare and the Apple Tree?
I was honoured to do three days of teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama many years ago with a large group of students. The whole experience was amazing, as even before he came into the room I could feel his gentle loving energy, which brought tears to my eyes…
The teachings were very profound and hard to follow at times, but the energy was incredible as he is such a humble man full of peace and compassion. On the last day of the teachings we were allowed to ask questions and one of the Buddhist students asked, “What can we do about all the violence in the world and terrorism?” To which the Dalai Lama replied: “We cannot change the past, but we can change the future by teaching our children of love, kindness and compassion.” It was this answer that really struck a chord and at that moment I decided I would like to illustrate a positive children’s book full of such messages.
Three weeks later a writer friend met a lady on a train who was looking for someone to illustrate a positive children’s book! And so the story began. That was over ten years ago now, but the Dalai Lama’s answer still resonated strongly and thus I went on to write and illustrate my first book, ‘The Hare and the Wise Old Apple Tree’. I have also teamed up with a child psychologist and together we have launched ‘Bear Books’, a publishing company where we were guided to use the wisdom of animals to tell children’s stories with teachings dedicated to their wellbeing. The stories will cover issues such as: seen but not heard, feeling alone and misunderstood, it must be my fault, bullying, claiming back our power and other challenges children face.
What were the biggest challenges for you when you were creating your book?
The story came through to me in about an hour which was incredible, but then it took nearly two years to illustrate and publish the story, partly because of not having the confidence in myself as a writer which I had to overcome, and partly because it was my story and so it all had to be perfect and flow..
The process was actually the same as creating my paintings, as I would start with a meditation and tune in to the message I was trying to get across, then an image would come in the form of a rough sketch and then in tuning in again the feeling of the illustration would emerge along with the colours etc…and the paining would unfold…
I find the process of painting intuitively fascinating and I know that you are able to connect very deeply with the energy of your subjects when you are creating spiritual portraits. Can you describe your experience with this?
It is a magical experience each time I create a spiritual portrait, and a process of me having to totally hand over and let go and really trust, which at first was terrifying. But now several years of creating such intuitive channelled paintings I am more relaxed and go with whatever is knowing it is the right thing…
For example I was painting a portrait for a small boy, one of the first ones I had created, and the first visualisation that came to mind was him swimming with a rabbit! This was in the early days when I would sit in meditation with the person I was creating for, so I asked if he had a rabbit, to which he replied no, and if he liked swimming which he also said no…but that is clearly what I saw, and then angels came, a lion protecting him and other symbols. His mum then came into the room and I asked her if he had a rabbit, to which she replied, “oh yes but he doesn’t really like it but goes flying with it in his dreams every night..”
I was so relieved and knew trusting that what I saw was exactly right. When the painting was finished and delivered to the boys home, a week or so later his mum called me to say he sat and meditated with his painting daily, was sleeping better and doing better at school. This was incredible news, and gave me the confidence to continue with the portraits and totally trust the process and know it was for the highest good.
Do you ever feel creatively blocked and if so how do you overcome this?
Actually I have never felt creatively blocked but run ‘painting with meditation’ workshops and work with artists and creative people who are…The process of beginning with a meditation brings us back to the moment and our true creative selves allowing all fears and limitations often causing such blocks to disappear and amazing things happen.
What artists are you currently inspired by?
I am and have always been inspired by Klimt, Monet, Van Gogh, Susan Sedon Boulet, and any artist that is coming from the heart and paints intuitively.
Your workshops Art From the Heart, sound lovely! What could someone expect to experience?
I run the 'Art from the Heart Painting with Meditation' workshops primarily from my garden studio now, as I find the nurturing experience of being in a secluded tropical garden really helps people to feel safe and open their hearts.. During the workshop we use guided meditation to connect to the present moment, our hearts, and creativity to allow the paint to flow onto the paper and any fears and inhibitions to remain outside.
It is a magical journey tailored to the individuals attending. The meditations often reveal messages and intuitive insights as well as healing experiences leaving the student in a place of peace and connected which then inspires amazing creative expression. People come with no painting experience or lots but feeling blocked, and always leave with at least two paintings they are pleased with and a smile on their faces.
What is the best thing about living in North Cornwall?
I love the energy of the north coast. The aqua blue turquoise ocean ever changing as it crashes onto the long white sands. I also feel very lucky to live in a wonderful creative community where the children can play freely outdoors.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on our first Bear Books publication, ‘Bodhi Bear’, hopefully to be out by Christmas. Also my own paintings are moving more into a deeper place as I reconnect with my shamanic roots and soul journey.
Do you have any plans for the future direction of your work?
I always go with the flow of how I am feeling in the present moment… For example I have been really into mindfulness meditation this last year and this really has developed into quite a few of my paintings. So for now I will meditate and see what comes, but my feeling is an exploration of my deep spiritual path, and the ongoing question of why we are here.
Many thanks to Annie for sharing her story and thank YOU for reading! I hope you have enjoyed it.
You can read more about ANNIE and her work here: http://www.annieb-art.co.uk
Join her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/annieb.artist