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Annie Pearcy
New beginnings
by Kathy Anderson

huge fan of gray skies and plenty of rain, Annie Pearcy has been in Portland four years. The 28-year-old native of Visalia, Calif., was raised on a small farm with lots of animals but she's now a vegetarian. Annie's paintings show her self-proclaimed twisted side, while a look at her murals shows why she also calls herself a dichotomy.

About face
A smear on a bus stop was the inspiration behind the painting that was the beginning of Annie Pearcy's art career.

"Extinctions Evolution"

"It looked like an old man's face, so I quickly sketched it as the bus was on its way," she said.

"I went home and turned the sketch into the painting 'Extinctions Evolution.' With that painting, I began mutating human and animal, or just mutating anything together with each other."

Annie explains that "Extinctions Evolution" is the title because with the painting she's asking people whether they think the peacock man is standing on water or concrete. If they say water, she believes they see the world with a constant flow of change and an open mind.

"If concrete is seen, then they are very focused on their views and closed off from seeing other possibilities in life," she said.

"The peacock is a mutation and, along with that, he is standing on his own beauty which he has ripped out of his own body. He has created his own mutation."

That is only one of Annie's ideas about the painting. Another is that the peacock man is what comes from change in our life.

"Kind of like when people die," she said. "Do we become animals or when animals die do they become people? Maybe the painting is an image of the in-between."

Whatever the answer, Annie hopes it causes people to think. She also says the peacock man is raising his toe to silence the viewer.

"Because it's not necessary to rip apart every painting just so it's always obvious for the viewer to know what is going on," she said.

Beating the blob
In fourth grade Annie started drawing because her 4-H leader knew her favorite live artist, Commander Mark, a public TV personality. He did space-age drawings and taught perspective along with creativity.

Sections of Mexican wall mural, Woodlake, Calif.

"I took the TV and 4-H classes through middle school," she said. "In high school, I tried to paint, but we had to use oil paints and mine all turned out a gray blob."

During her junior year in college, Annie was given the opportunity to study at the Academia delle Belle Arti di Firenze in Florence, Italy. She realized she needed to make a decision on what medium to use.

"I'd taken the basic classes of color theory, drawing perspective, charcoal, etc. So I took my first painting class before I left," she said.

"It went well as far as realistic painting was concerned, but it took a turn when I got to the academy where I was not allowed to do any realism.

"After three months of doing nothing in class, I started drawing this face that was abstracted with its color and size.

"Next came 'Extinctions Evolution' and the mutating of animal and human qualities."

Annie graduated from California State University in Chico, Calif., with her BA in painting and figure drawing. After moving to Portland in 2000, she took two years of art at PSU.

"Right now I'm focusing on producing art, but I always keep an open eye for new techniques," she said.

Surreal deal
Some of Annie's paintings are created by first smudging dirt on the canvas so she can find the image hiding in the blank canvas. When she moved to Portland she began a series of paintings that were dark and drippy.


"All of my paintings since I moved back to the states have been portraits of my friends," she said. "Those start by my dripping many layers of paint on a canvas and then finding an image in it."

Although she has a portrait in mind, Annie incorporates the portrait into the painting after the drips. She paints only the outer lines of the image and none of the inner parts, letting the drips be the flesh.

"Years ago, a friend of mine helped me to realize that my art exists in a surreal setting in my subconscious," she said. "If nothing ever existed and never would again except for me and a small surrounding around me, it would consist of large floating faces that are of my paintings.

"Strange, I know. But as weird as it sounds to others, it sounds comforting to me!"

Just paint
One of Annie's professors in Italy made up a story about her painting, "Californian Holiday."

"He said that back in the day, Vincent van Gogh took a vacation in California and ended up having an affair with my mother while he was there," she said. "Italian humor, go figure! So I do like van Gogh a bit."

"Californian Holiday"

Annie's favorite artists are M.C. Escher and Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.

"I have been told that my art is surrealism," she said. "I do like Dali, I just don't have the women issues he had."

There are various other artists Annie likes, but she tries to not let their style influence hers.

"I want to be original," she said. "But really, I just paint."

Most of Annie's murals are commissioned pieces in people's homes. However, one can be seen at Pizza Oasis, 2241 W. Burnside, in Northwest Portland.

Following through
Going to Italy and finding her own style is when Annie believes her life came into focus and she began thinking like an artist.

"Anywhere I was I would be thinking of new works," she said. "Most artists would say that they were just born with it or they don't know why they create art.

"But for me, freshman year in high school when I drew an Elvis picture, it made me so satisfied with myself, that I was able to use my brain and my hand along with my eyes to create something so exact. Why wouldn't I stick with it?"

Annie was so intent on her art that she'd thought of doing nothing else. That changed last summer when she decided that art was not going to support her and maybe she should find another career.

"I'd just started to sign up for massage school when a kidney disease that's been haunting me for 18 years finally caught up to me," she said. "My kidneys failed in a big way and I had to start dialysis, which meant no new start for me in life. Instead, I was heading downhill."

"Walking into your destiny"

But a couple days after starting dialysis, Annie realized it really was a new beginning and it would give her a chance to follow through with her art.

"You could say there was a higher influence in my life who thought I was making a bad decision in not continuing with my art," she said.

Annie is still on daily dialysis at home. However, in the past year alone, she's created 10 paintings and 10 murals along with starting to produce prints and multimedia of her art. She also started her Web site on her own.

"Without that interruption in my life last year, I never would have done any of this," she said. "What I've created means so much to me now."

E-mail Annie at artbyannie@hotmail.com and visit her Web site. You can reach Kathy at kanderson138@comcast.net, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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