Not too long ago, one of our good friends (and ex-Huffington, which means she’s part of the family forever) sent us the kind of email we love to get. “This is one of my oldest and dearest friends who is very talented (and) also happens to be gorgeous and inspiring!” said the email. Included were some striking abstract paintings which immediately took our eye with their graphic details and swaths of negative space.
We were piqued and couldn’t wait to find out more about this person. It turns out her name is Annie King – and we fell in love with her inspirational story, sweet personality and most of all, her prolific talent with paint and brush on canvas.
We quickly welcomed Annie to the gallery and immediately loved how beautifully her paintings hang in the gallery – they radiate energy but Annie tempers it with plenty of white space, which gives the eye a place to rest. We figured it was time to find out what makes Annie tick, how and where she likes to paint and how she juggles life as a professional artist and as the mom of young children.
First of all, a little background on this smart and thoughtful, up-and-coming artist:
“Art has always been an essential element of my being. As a little girl, I was constantly creating art. Whether it was carving shapes out of sticks outside or painting and drawing enormous (and undesired by my parents) murals on the walls in my childhood home, my yearning to create was innate. I began to focus this instinct towards painting, and I eventually found myself evolving as an artist.
After graduating with a BFA from the University of Georgia, I was eager to spread my passion for art. I began teaching art while maintaining a consistent practice in my own painting. During this time, I recognized how art was serving a therapeutic value. I developed a strong appreciation for how art making was connecting me to my Self: spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I felt and saw in some of my students how the expression, process, and production of art generated a sense of healing. This belief led me to pursue a career in art therapy.
After earning a Masters in Art Therapy and Clinical Counseling from Eastern Virginia Medical School, I worked primarily with children struggling with issues of neglect, trauma, and abuse. The world of art has been an amazing adventure for me. From art educator to art therapist, I have always remained rooted in my own growth as an artist. Currently, I am devoting my attention to motherhood and painting full time as I faithfully allow this artistic journey to entrance me.”
We had to do a little Q & A with Annie. Read on to find out more about her process and what inspires her:
HHFA: What’s your inspiration? Please tell us about your path to becoming a a professional artist.
AK: Oh gosh, this is hard because I feel like I am inspired everyday by something new. Life in general inspires me. I probably take the most away from nature, color, design, emotions, experiences, people and relationships.
Sometimes, the inspiration is profound and a reflection of a real sadness of loss. Sometimes, it’s an incredible triumph over a hardship. And sometimes, the inspiration is from the peace that arises as I watch the ocean or as I see the beautiful, heartfelt smiles from my children when I pick them up from school. Life is really amazing.
Painting really is a meditative process for me. With my background in art therapy, I have witnessed and experienced the healing powers of painting and art making. Pursuing this incredible therapeutic value is what led me to become a professional artist. It totally captured me – and I have no intention of breaking out of this bond.
HHFA: Have you always been an abstract artist – and have other styles impacted how you paint?
AK: Ha ha, in my mind most definitely! I’m a abstract thinker and visionary all the way! Seriously, I started off painting in art school with formal, traditional rules and ideas. Once I gained more freedom and confidence, I began to explore way more with abstract ideas.
HHFA: What’s your favorite medium?
AK: I love using acrylic latex. It allows for loose fluidity and large consumption, giving me lots of freedom to create. And then I love adding in the “secret” details with an informal touch of charcoal to make the work approachable to the viewer. I really desire for the relationship between the artist and viewer to be comfortable and real.
HHFA: What’s your painting process? Early in the morning, when the mood strikes or like a job?
AK: For me, the painting process is definitely intuitive but with the demands of kids, I have to be more disciplined and time-sensitive. I never have a plan though – I do not work off sketches or premeditated materials. Sometimes I begin painting with the idea that I only have one hour to paint right now – and the next thing I know, five hours have passed. Other times, I set aside hours to work but am only productive for an hour. Mood and environment do play a lot into my process. And don’t bother me when I’m in my zone!
HHFA: do you have a dedicated studio space? Where do you paint? Do you listen to music? What puts you in the zone?
And yes, I always listen to something when I paint. Mostly music – but sometimes podcasts and audiobooks too. I really dont tune in to painting as well if Im trying to listen to something specific-so usually, I stick to music. And you’ll hear all genres-I really like everything, depending on the mood.
HHFA: Favorite artist?
AK: the first artist that comes to mind is Frida Kahlo. What I especially love is that she was basically a pioneer to the idea of art therapy by her own self example. She was wild, tough, and hilarious and she went to hell and back with her injury yet all the while used art to express her true self. I have so many other artists that I admire: Cy Twombly, De Kooning and Basquait just to name a few…
HHFA: What’s your favorite city/vacay spot?
AK: I will never get Charleston out of my heart. I was lucky enough to live and start a family there. It has it all, from the beach (I love water and feel a need to be close to the shore) to a progressive downtown city-scene with trendy restaurants, galleries, shopping and culture. Yet it has a small-town feel (full of southern hospitality) and where you can ride your bike and walk everywhere. I love it there.