I paint the places and things that I know, places that I love. If home is where the heart is, then each of these paintings is my home. As a child growing up on a small island in south Florida, I grew up on the water and learned to swim, sail, and surf at a very early age.
In the years since then, I’ve traveled and lived in locations around the world, but I’ve never been far from water. Living in coastal communities has influenced my painting style and inspired me to specialize and develop an expertise in maritime subjects. When I’m painting my seascapes, I feel transported back to the exotic coasts of my travels, and back to those carefree moments of my younger days.
I try to entice the viewer to step into my paintings and experience these places with me; to feel the sand between their toes as they walk on my sun-warmed beaches, to dive into my paintings and swim in my oceans, to cruise through my paintings on the decks of my boats. When you look at my work, I want you to not just see a painting; but to feel the ocean’s wind in your hair, taste the salt spray on your lips, and hear the seagulls calling to you.
Annie's early years in Florida
Annie in Thailand
Although I am a classically trained artist with experience in many mediums, I choose to paint primarily in watercolor. The translucency of the medium allows me to create my paintings using multiple layers of washes and glazes. These layers of color are built up slowly, each one adding depth to the painting. I travel extensively to seek out reference material for my subjects, taking photographs and painting on location to capture the light and mood of the moment. My paintings chronicle my travels across the United States, the Caribbean, and the countries and islands of the Pacific Rim. Every painting is a captured memory; a visual history of a moment of time, place, and emotion that I record through paint and share with others.
I try to use my skills and talents to do more than just create art; I strive to use my knowledge and expertise to contribute something back to society. As an Official Authorized Artist for the U.S. Coast Guard, I am occasionally assigned to accompany USCG units during excursions and training exercises to gather reference materials for specific painting assignments. Through public displays at museums, galleries, and patriotic events, the Coast Guard uses fine art as an outreach tool for educating diverse audiences about their goals and missions, and to tell the story of their heroes and history.
My formal art school training began in high school, after I completed my requirements for graduation at age 14. I spent my remaining high school years completing graduate level coursework in an accelerated art program, with advanced placement college courses for gifted and talented students. My teachers were encouraging, but at the same time they warned against seeking a career in the arts. They would often remind students that there are few career opportunities for fine artists, and that there is little possibility for steady income. For decades afterward, I never gave the idea of pursuing an art career another thought, although I never stopped painting.
Because of this, I am dedicated to sharing my skills to help emerging artists realize their own potential, and I endeavor to help other artists improve their skills. Since 2005 I’ve been a feature writer and contributing editor for Professional Artist Magazine, the premier business magazine for professional visual artists. I love writing for the magazine, and I love it when readers write to tell me that the advice or information in my articles have made an impact on their careers. It makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the art world by helping other artists to acquire skills to improve their lives. Another way I contribute is by teaching dozens of painting workshops each year. Through my painting lessons, I share the information and techniques that artists need to improve their work and create better paintings. I also inspire emerging artists through my lectures and seminars on art business and marketing, and provide them with the tools they need to follow their dreams and aspirations.
Annie is a writer for Art Calendar Magazine, Professional Artist Magazine, The Crafts Report, and more
Annie Strack teaching at an art materials expo
I have always been an artist; I can’t remember the first time I picked up a brush or created my first work of art. I used to paint as a hobby, until a harrowing incident at my previous job in 1998 that led me to change my life and my career. I had been working as a jeweler when a gang of armed robbers convinced me that it was time for a career change. It was while I laid bound and gagged with a gun to my head, listening to the gunmen discuss my fate as if my life had no more meaning than a discarded gum wrapper, that I had an epiphany; life is too short to waste even a moment on anything that we do not love, anything that does not bring passion and joy into our lives. I have been a full-time professional artist ever since.
I can’t imagine a day without painting, and I can’t imagine painting anything else.