If you haven’t already, meet Anne Neilson, owner of ANFA, artist, author, and philanthropist. She is dedicated to making ANFA a lighthouse in the community by giving back through art. She paints with both passion and purpose.
Where does the inspiration from your Angels come from?
“Over 19 years ago when I picked my brushes up and started painting in oils, I wanted to paint something that reflected my faith. I experimented with all kinds of subjects (crosses) – and came up with my first angel – very colorful with lots of texture (experimenting with a pallet knife) I sent a picture to my sister asking her thoughts. Her reply was “You have found your voice” which has turned out to be my life song as I have painted these ethereal beings sculpted out of oil paints in hopes that they bring peace and hope to the collectors.”
What keeps you inspired to create?
“Other creative people and the world in which we live in. To see a sunset — or a tree and the different color of green on the leaves. I know I am crazy — but when I look at God’s creation whether a sunset or the way the light hits the surf and the sand — I start thinking in my mind the different ways to mix and create those colors. Another thing that keeps me inspired are people. Their stories that are shared from my paintings — especially the angels. I hear from so many people how these paintings have ministered to them in times of sorrow, joy, crisis, or just the fact that the art (angels) ‘moved them’ to tears.”
In these difficult and vulnerable times, what message do you have for our community?
“In these uncertain times, for our health and our economy, I believe that we must not turn our eyes onto the situation but fix our eyes on the great Creator and His promises and truths. I am an artist and I love to create beauty. But I know that my Creator is the master artist himself and he will bring beauty from these ashes (COVID-19). I am praying that everyone at ANFA would continue to be a light in the midst of this craziness and that our art will continue to bless many not only in our community but beyond.”
During this time of social distancing, what book or movie would you recommend to our readers?
“Even though I have written two books and have another published devotional due out this fall — I am not much a reader… BUT that could change with all the “stay home” orders! Movies I love and could watch movies over and over…one to watch — Little Women. I have seen this movie now 3 times. Having 3 daughters, it is the most precious movie about family, sisters, forgiveness, trials, tribulations and the deep desires and talents that God has deposited into each one of us.”
To find out more about what inspired Anne’s missions, we at ANFA encourage you to read New York Times Best Seller “Same Kind of Different as Me”, written by renowned Art Dealer Ron Hall. You can also watch the documentary on Netflix.
What are you listening to these days?
“I absolutely love listening to any kind of praise music…Bethel, Elevation Worship, For King and Country, K-Love radio — anything that brings God’s truth through the airwaves… especially now. If you listen to the words of these songs — it will be such peace for your soul.”
Other than art, what is your favorite hobby?
“Traveling. Oh how I love to travel (especially with my family) and I am praying that our world will get back to normal soon. In the meantime, I will be getting a lot of painting done, a little writing, and some much home time with my wonderful family!”
If you could have dinner with any living or diseased artist, who would it be? And where would you take them for dinner?
“Michelangelo — at my home. I love to entertain and would put on a great dinner party for him. I am fascinated by his works — on a family trip we toured the Sistine Chapel — no words. Just incredible.”
How have you been spending your time during these past few weeks of social distancing and staying at home?
“Honestly, I wish I could say I am getting a lot done such as cleaning out closets etc. And I don’t want to whine about this — but we are in the midst of a messy renovation (which included no kitchen)…so, I really can’t clean out closets or drawers or anything except stare at my piles randomly placed in random rooms. It’s a mess but I am trying to find messages within the mess. I am trying to find peace in the midst of chaos. And it is somewhat of a parallel of what our world is going through right now. So, I do the best I can with six adults now under one roof (without a kitchen) and finding silver linings along the way. I do slip out every once in a while to my studio to paint, and that always brings me peace in the midst. “
How are you, ANFA, and ANH giving back to the community to support those direly affected by COVID-19 in any way?
“My calling and mission is still the same. 19 years ago when my painting was a hobby, raising my 4 kiddos, volunteering at the local homeless shelter — I left the homeless shelter asking myself – HOW am I going to do all this. Be a good wife. A good mom. My passion was to paint. My heart wanted to serve our community. How was I going to do it ALL. I clearly heard a whisper in my spirit to “paint and give back” and that was the start of this incredible journey. Today it remains the same. Art will never die — art is a necessity. I love the quote from Pablo Picasso – “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”. Art is unique. It brings people together. It brings healing to the soul. We will continue to use art at ANFA (we have some amazing artists) to minister and give back to those affected by the COVID-19 crisis, mainly focusing on children who have been affected. Daily, we will rely on our GOD who will supply all our needs according to His riches in Jesus Christ.”
What is the overall message you hope that people receive when contemplating your art?
“This is the message that goes on every Angel painting: The angel series began on a piece of paper as sketches reflecting my faith and evolved onto the canvas as ethereal abstract beings sculpted out of oil paint. Much like our lives, which start out as a blank canvas, we face trials and tribulations on the journey of life. Through these experiences, whether joyful or difficult, God adds color and texture along our paths to create a beautiful masterpiece. My prayer is that the art born in my studio will always be a beautiful reminder for you and your home and life that God is our creator and the fulfiller of His promises to you.”
You can learn more about Anne Neilson’s books and products inspired by her original paintings by visiting www.anneneilsonhome.com or following @anneneilsonhome on Instagram. Continue along with us to to further find out how ANFA loves to use art in order to better the community, Charlotte and further.
—Logan Sutton, Gallery Coordinator