Stevensville artist Annette Wagner has a focus on intentional creativity with a daily practice of connecting to the Earth in what she calls Earth prayers.
“Earth prayers are meditative, creative and a great way to document your journey whether you are on a trail or sitting on a park bench,” Wagner said. “No prior art experience is necessary just allow words to arise from your heart and flow down through your pen onto paper.”
Wagner said she wanted to be an artist her entire life but due to her dad’s insistence that she do more than art she had a career in human interface design. She grew up in Silicon Valley, California, or rather Silicon grew up around her.
“It’s the opposite of locals here because there I would be the only local in a meeting at Apple or other tech companies and I came up here and it is reversed,” Wagner said. “Now I understand both perspectives.”
Wagner said she was able to include art in her career but returned to full-time artistry in 2008.
“It was the first time I was painting on canvas and was hand-building sculptures,” she said.
She and her husband, photographer Cass Kalinski, moved to Montana where she has a large art studio in her home on the bench east of Stevensville, Coyote Rose Ranch.
“I left high tech in 2008 and decided to figure out the artist thing,” she said. “I was raised on a ranch and living up here is more like when I was a kid. It feels like coming home.”
Her ranch in sunny California was next to a turkey and sheep ranch, an apple and plum orchard and a berry farm.
“Even 20 years later it was all gone, it’s all houses, all high tech and a radical, radical change,” Wagner said. “I hope that never happens up here. We lucked out, we bought a barn-style house with the Sapphires out the front door and the Bitterroots out the back door. I love it up here, it is gorgeous and it inspires me.”
Wagner’s art covers many mediums and subjects. She often combines intentional creativity method with the Asian watercolor/ink painting practice of sumi-e and splash painting that is more free-form and unplanned.
“Splash painting is fun using layers of rice paper and you drip thinned down liquid paint sometimes thinned with detergent or alcohol to get strange effects,” she said. “Drawing horses has always been a love and I kept getting this image of a running horse. I started the paintings in California, but it was clear I was to finish them up here. I packed in such a way that the first thing I could unpack was my horse painting.”
She creates her paintings on a trail, the side of a mountain, or what she sees out the window of her studio. She is inspired by horses, wildflowers and the natural, beautiful earth.
“Each painting is an original work of art created with intention and a love for the earth,” Wagner said. “I’m also an intentional creativity teacher and I worked in that movement and I have a practice I teach people called earth prayers. It’s like an ink drawing in words or poetry in the moment in nature.”
Her trail hikes usually involve stopping to sketch, draw and paint while her husband takes photos.
“I’ll do my Earth prayers and paint, capturing the rocks, the waterfalls, larkspur, everything inspires me,” Wagner said. “I love going to Skalkaho Falls and seeing it at different times of the year. If I don’t create, I go crazy. I usually am doing something every day. I also do intentional creativity painting that is usually more symbolic, metaphoric and more processed.”
Wagner said she canceled her classes during COVID but plans to resume teaching, especially her intentional creativity classes, after the pandemic.
She said a thrilling experience this year was painting on Whisky, a cinnamon-colored horse, at Dunrovin Ranch in Lolo in August.
“I painted him with calligraphy and a theme and added all different kinds of red thread because red thread is an ancient sign of connection,” Wagner said. “I’ve done many things despite COVID and have been inspired by Montana. I am very grateful that we moved here. We were starting to meet people in the community when COVID hit. We spent the time getting the property together and with all my studio related stuff in one room I’ve had time to get things organized.”
Wagner is a member of Artists Along the Bitterroot and her painting called “Fire on the Mountain” is on display at Montana Bliss Artworks. To see more of her work and creative inspiration visit her website www.annettewagnerart.com/.