Annie Hejny Artist Highlight

Annie Hejny – “Haywood Pond”
Acrylic, collected local water and sediment on canvas
Abstract visual artist and forest therapy guide Annie Hejny will be teaching with WBCA this Spring in her class Water and Woods: Abstraction and Nature. You can also learn more about Annie and her artwork during WBCA’s artist talk, coming up on February 25. Annie’s work often deals with themes of water, combining traditional and untraditional media. You can read more about her inspiration in a Q&A below:

How does water play a role in your artwork?

Water is very important to my creative practice and my life because water is life. It sustains and connects all of us. As an artist, water has been an important metaphor for my work. During difficult times I go to the water, primarily the Mississippi River, because it reminds me of how everything changes and cycles, including my creative process. 


Why do you use natural materials like bark and sediment alongside more traditional materials?

Incorporating tangible elements from the earth into my artwork connects me back to the earth while I am in the studio. Texture is an important element in my abstract paintings and drawings so working with the sediment and bark provides another level of sensory experience while I observe and paint. 

Have you found ways of staying creative during the pandemic? Have you seen any influences of the pandemic in your work? 

The pandemic has been especially challenging for small business owners like myself and has required artists to shift their creative practices in many ways. We have had to translate artwork and our arts community onto virtual platforms, online shops, Zoom community events and launch Patreon sites. More than past years, 2020 was a roller coaster. At the beginning of the pandemic, I went through a long period of fear and creative stagnancy. I did not go to my art studio for many weeks. Then I was struck with fresh inspiration and began to get back to work on a new project which has carried me through many of the ups and downs. Since my artwork has always been inspired by place and nature, I am seeing how the community is spending more time outdoors because it is a safer place to be. I am continually grateful for our natural world, and the healing and inspiration that the earth provides. 


What do you hope students take away from your class, Water and Woods: Abstraction and Nature

I am very excited to share my workshop with the community! My students leave with many new touchpoints of inspiration: connection with nature, experiments with painting materials, playfulness with color, texture and abstraction, and more. I will be sharing very specific and intimate techniques directly from my studio practice. My hope is that this will encourage students to become brave in their creative voices. No prior art experience is required to take this class. 


Who are some artists who are inspiring you right now? 

Elizabeth Murray, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Caroline Kent and many more.

What projects are you currently working on?

The studio is busy these days! While continuing to work on commissioned water paintings, I am simultaneously developing a new body of abstract oil paintings. Oil painting is new for me so I am experimenting and learning as I work. This gives me a sense of freedom with the paint that I no longer feel with acrylic. Additionally, I am continuing to prepare for a group exhibition at the Grand Marais Art Colony which opens on May 21st.

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