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 smear on a bus stop was the inspiration behind the painting
that was the beginning of Annie Pearcy's art career.
"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
"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.
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
"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
"Right now I'm focusing on producing art, but
I always keep an open eye for new techniques," she said.
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!"
One of Annie's professors in Italy made up a story about her painting,
"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."
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
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.
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
"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."
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."