We are excited to host famous artist and author and philanthropist, Anne Neilson, for a book signing at the J Banks Retail Store next week! We got the opportunity to interview Anne about her beautiful book and what makes it so special!
JB: What inspired you to first start painting angels?
Anne: I wanted to paint something that reflected my faith and painted my first angel one night in my home studio – sent an image to my sister and said “What do you think” her reply was “I think you have found your voice” From then I just started painting these SMALL angel paintings — put them in a local gift shop and they started selling! The first angel I painted can be found on page 3.
JB: What was the catalyst for you to create this book with your collection of angel paintings?
Anne: After the paintings started selling — and becoming quite popular — and growing in value — I would have people comment to me that they wish they bought back then (when I first started painting) I had a stack of hundreds of images – and stories that I would share with people and it just dawned on me — I could create a beautiful coffee table book that EVERYONE could enjoy and still be affordable.
JB: Your book would make a beautiful gift. Mother’s Day is coming up and this is a great gift idea. Because you are a mother yourself – what do you think makes this a special gift for a mother.
Anne: The stories throughout the book really make the book special — the art is one thing – the close up of texture and color — but the stories truly are inspiring for anyone — especially mom — there is a lot of love poured into this book.
JB: In the forward of Angels in our Midst, Ron Hall mentions that this book, “provides a double blessing, not only for those who read this book, but also those who benefit from its success.” Can you tell us a little bit about the charities that you share book proceeds with?
Anne: There are about five charities mentioned in the book (many more I have supported) but the ones in the book are near and dear to my heart for different reasons. A portion of book sales will go back to these charities. We were able to give The Harvest Center $20,000 last Fall — now that was from sales of mostly ART and books but it was still a neat feeling to give back to others from this gift that has been given to me. We are getting ready to disperse more funds to other organizations and my prayer is that we can continue to give back!
JB: This book is far more than just beautiful images, why would you encourage people to read the accompanying stories?
Anne: Like my sister Beth said in the Introduction — we all have beautiful coffee table books that we skim through from time to time — this book has such personal stories and experiences of encouragement, faith, compassion, love and hope. WOW, in our world today — with all the tragedy and illnesses around us — we need these words more than ever! HOPE and encouragement.
JB: Your book features all sorts of angels. Angels playing instruments, holding flowers, angels with different hair and skin colors, angels holding animals – Do each of the angels you paint represent people or experiences you have had?
Anne: Some do — but most are flowed from my heart to the canvas — My studio is my sanctuary. I listen to my praise music and use that time of reflection and prayer as I paint. I just rely on GOD the Creator to let everything flow onto the canvas. There is a story in the book about the painting I did for Oprah. I can remember that day I painted 3 African american angels and just stepped away knowing that piece was for Oprah – Yet I never sent it cause it did not make sense to me why 3 angels – until a year and half later — you will have to read the book to see what happened. It was pretty amazing — A lot of times people will bring me pictures of their mother, father, children – and want angels to have some form of representations — but most come just flowing from my heart!
JB: What sort of feedback do you get from people who have purchased your book?
Anne: Amazing. I had one grandmother call me from OHIO — she had lost a 4 year old granddaughter four years ago and just could not seem to cry. She saw the Today Show where Kathie Lee Gifford was promoting the book as one of her ‘favorite things’ and the grandmother bought several copies. When she went to the website and previewed the book she said the floodgates opened and she just cried and cried. I was humbled. This book was really not written by me for me — I can remember sitting at my kitchen table and the words just flowed out — a few months later we had it designed and off to the printers. A few months after that books arrived – 1600 copies. I was stunned and just thought how in the world are we going to sell all these copies. Three weeks later our first printing was SOLD OUT. We order 2600 the second printing and again going to our third printing. I am ever grateful and humbled at the response. It has been amazing. The book makes a great Mother’s Day gift but we have had clients buy 75 books for hostess gifts for weddings — we have have the book be a registry for weddings where guests sign the book – makes just a great gift all around.
If you would like to pre-order a book, you may call 843-682-1745 for more information.
We hope you can come and meet this amazing artist, author and philanthropist! To learn more about Anne you may visit her website www.AnneNeilsonFineArt.com!