Featured Artist: Erin E. Anderson, Painter & Master Gardener
April is National Garden Month and we wanted to celebrate in our own way (even if on the last day of the month). So, we decided to feature one of our favorite artists in the area who also happens to be a Master Gardener, Erin E. Anderson. You may have seen her work around town. Perhaps you’ve read her blog or even visited her Etsy store. Erin creates paintings that are inspired by nature. She beautifully captures the subtleties of light and atmosphere to portray everything from dreamy landscapes and the breath of farm animals to mason jars and flowers.
We asked Erin to share a little bit of her story. We wanted to know just what makes her tick, why she chose gardening, and what drove her to paint. Here is what she told us:
I’ve been an artist my whole life and have always loved to “play” outside. The fleeting beauty of the seasons changing strikes me to my core. It’s so powerful that it creates a genuine need within my being to capture those moments, either on film or canvas. I simply cannot help it. In fact, it’s my love of nature that caused me to fall madly in love with gardening.
My kindergarten teacher told my mother that I was an artist. I was also lucky enough to attend a high school with three full-time art teachers. Having a crush on one of those teachers only fueled my passion for art even further. In college, I studied jewelry-making and photography for a while. But truly, I simply loved all mediums of artistic expression and could never settle on just one.
I grew up in a generation and family that used shame and guilt to rear children rather than compliments and affirmation. My lack of self-worth prevented me from even identifying that I had a gift in the first place. So, I married young, had children immediately, and became a stay-at-home mother who put my painting on the back burner.
While my children were in high school, I had time to invest in myself even more. I became a Master Gardener and even developed my own gardening business. I was blessed to become the caretaker and creator of several stunning gardens. I was now fervantly pursing gardening and photography. Still though…there was something inside of me, some gentle whisper from above or beyond that was calling me to paint.
In my late 40s, I experienced a very difficult foot surgery and recovery. Soon after, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The two most notable symptoms of fibromyalgia are severe pain throughout the body and debilitating fatigue. Between my foot pain, widespread body pain from my new condition, and low self-worth, I had to go through some serious and long-overdue self- and spiritual-reflection, as well as healing. The kind of healing that goes far beyond a physical wound and seeps deep down into the soul.
It was here that those whispers to paint were so strong that I could no longer ignore them. And so, I started painting. And I painted some more. I just kept on painting and painting because I found that I was in love with it. No matter how much I painted, I couldn’t get enough. I’ve heard Michael Damico talk about how painting becomes a meditation for him, as if everything else just falls away. I noticed something similar. When I would paint, I didn’t even notice my fibromyalgia pain. I had happily discovered and embraced art therapy.True art therapy. I was just smitten.
Remember those whispers from above that directed me to paint? Well, they actually got a little louder and more precise. Some say it’s God, angels, or even higher consciousness. Whatever you call it, it was guiding my art and still does to this day.
“I’m an artist.” It’s weird, but I had to ease into calling myself an actual artist. Then I began to feel a compulsion to share my art with the world. The introduction of the internet and blogging gave me a platform to start that process. So, at 49 years old, while recovering from foot surgery, I literally crawled up the stairs and forced myself to learn how to use computers, the internet, Photoshop, blogging, and more. As I gained more confidence, I began to realize that sharing my passion for art was actually inspiring others to create as well. How cool is that?!
The whispers I told you about eventually grew louder and louder. If you’ve ever felt or heard a calling to do something specific in life, then you know what I mean. It’s just this inexplicable thing that pops up everywhere you turn. Most of all, it grabs your attention until you finally give in.
Becoming familiar with the internet and computer technology in general continued to boost my confidence and this was starting to show in my blog. That led to several requests to purchase my paintings. So, I eased into that by selling a few in a nearby gallery and selling some online. My partnership/friendship with Michael Damico allowed me to open an Etsy Shop where I continue to sell fine art giclee prints.
It turns out that the more art that I’ve shared and sold, the more people have reached out to me on a very deep and personal level. Art is pretty powerful stuff and I…am an artist!
Now, at the age of 59, I live for playing in my garden and sharing my God-given gift. I paint serene ethereal landscapes and animals. It’s all inspired by the beautiful horse country of my beloved Tennesee. I pray that my art can bring a bit of calm and peace to this world.