Anona Kosmack is the heart and lead creator of Art Fueled Living. She believes that your best life is full of self-expression, color, community and connection. Anona enriches the lives of those she works with by connecting them to their creative compass. Her artwork brings beauty, power and grace to any setting.
Anona’s advocacy and teaching initiatives focus on empowering marginalized persons. Currently, Anona is supporting the growth of individuals with disabilities as an art educator and Developmental Service Work (DSW) student.
Carrie: When did you first realize the importance of art in your life?
I have always had my nose in a sketchbook. I was the kid hoarding the crayons in preschool. I knew art was important to me when I first experienced a real loss during my teenage years. I couldn’t find any words that seemed to do justice to what I was feeling.
During my high school years, my art teacher let me spend my lunch hours and some time after school painting. It was the best place for me to be in. I would play my music in my headphones in and paint what was happening internally.
The one thing I didn’t expect was that people would begin to understand and give me the words I was missing. Art has never abandoned me. It has gifted me so much.
Carrie: How would you describe your art?
I describe my art as vibrant, mysterious and powerful. It think what I create has a great visual impact. My art is usually very narrative and uses a lot of symbols.
I enjoy creating colourful conversation within the piece itself. I want the viewer to be able to sit with the work and wander throughout the story.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
My studio space is in my bedroom of my basement apartment. I have a beautiful secretariat desk where I work from. I have a roller cart with all my paints, brushes and glosses.
I have two easels on either side of my desks. One easel is dedicated to larger projects like yearly soul paint project. The other easel is for smaller scale projects.
I do my best to keep it clean because it is easier to want to paint when it’s organized. However, it is usually covered with different reference and sketch books. I have two whiteboards nearby that I use for scribbling goals and inner motivations on.
Above my desk, I have this giant print of Elvis Presley in a white suit with glossed roses framing the bottom third of the print. It used to belong to my grandma so it makes me so happy looking at it. Also, I have a small digital art space where I charge all of my technology. Currently, I am experimenting with some digital artscapes on my iPad.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
I have developed this habit of grabbing random scraps of paper and sketching out a process as soon as inspiration strikes. This habit has contribute to some mess because organizing scraps of paper is trickier than keeping it all in a sketchbook.
Usually, I rework the sketch a few times to refine the composition in an actual sketchbook. Then, I sketch it out on a canvas, begin the underpainting to get the right quality of tone for colours and the I overlay the colours and add details.
So far, I hang the paintings in my home where I stare at them for a few months. The staring at them for a few months is definitely a part of the creative process. After engaging with them for however long I need to, I decide if they are actually finished or not. There are a few I decide to paint over or rework.
Typically, I decide to paint in response to an issue I think is important like mental health, world events or an intense feeling/awareness I am having.
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?
I hope my viewers take a moment of pauses an inner reflection when they are engaging with my work. I hope they find an awareness of themselves that they’ve left somewhere dusty in a corner and that my painting can evoke them to examine those pieces that have fallen by the wayside.
Carrie: What do you wish you knew that you now know about your creative process?
I wish I knew that taking a step back from my easel and actively participating in other activities that I enjoy is part of my creative process. I used to force myself to go through art drills. I took it as far as creating my exercise routine to lessen the strain/potential injury from the amount of painting and drawing I was doing.
I wish I knew that my inner self-critic has never created anything worthwhile. Any time I have created a piece as I have that inner critic running commentary it never comes out in a way I can be proud. My inner critic is a part of the process for sure, but she comes after I have created a piece and in the fine tuning aspect of the process.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
If I am feeling stuck in my art usually I am feeling stuck in another area of my life. So, if it’s a general sense of stuckness I will move my body. A simple walk or short dance break will reset my system to be able to think more clearly.
If I am feeling an emotional stuckness, I will cry it out, do yoga or journal. If I am experiencing brain fog and muddy thinking, I will go take some quiet time and do nothing. Also, reaching out to friends, family and other support networks when I am feeling unsure is the best way forward.
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
As a creative, I made it through a non-art undergraduate degree that provided me with sharp critical thinking skills, great time management skills and great writing/editing techniques. It was a program that focused on international conflicts. So, it was really sad and hard at times. The hurdle I overcame was understanding that my art can and does help the world.
I had to get over this idea that the suffering I perceived in the world was a call to paint more and not less. There are times when I truly feel chagrined that my life is filled with such wonder (it’s not perfect-but hey it’s mine).
I know that continuing to grow in my life and in my art I will be able to create more positive changes in the world around me. I stopped telling myself that my art was a waste of time. I allow myself time to create what I feel is beautiful and powerful on the daily.
Carrie: In 2018, you participated in my mastermind program The Circle. What drew you to joining The Circle? What did you learn about yourself and/or your art?
Up until joining The Circle, I had focused a lot of my learning efforts on general understanding of business. I focused so much on create websites, sales funnels and marketing strategies that I had removed myself to far from the joy of painting.
I started following Artist Strong as I was looking for inspiration on how to show up powerfully in my life as a creative leader in my life and business. Then, I discovered The Circle, which has offered a way to reconnect to my artistic painterly process, a great community for feedback and a lot of confirmation that I am indeed an artist.
I learned that my art does not need to be liked or admired by everyone. I learned that I can become rich by creating art that evokes icky, sticky feelings not just happiness. I don’t have to worry or contrive my creative process into a form of production.
I paint for me in a more organized way then I sell the piece as I consider which audience it would suit. I have also radically reframed the way I see failure.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
A creative resource, meaning something that brings me a lot of inspiration, is my yoga practice along with awesome music.
A creative resource, as in a tool I use to create art, is a sketchbook in my purse and by my bed.
A creative resource, as in what nourishes my body, I would say right now it’s sweet potato fries and coffee with a splash of almond milk.
A creative resource, as in a tool I always wish I had more and higher quality of, is Trekell paint brushes.
A creative resource, as in what keeps my mind healthy to work, is heart-to-heart conversations with my friends and family.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
I inspire myself!
I love reading from the perspective of masters like DaVinci. I am equally inspired by the lesson I have access to thanks to the modern teachers of today like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe. I am inspired by activists, everyday heroes and the resiliency of humanity.
I am inspired by the growth and perseverance I witness everyday from working with marginalized people. I am inspired by the creative expressions within the queer community. I am inspired by the simple aspects of beauty all around me.
I love perfect glints of sunlight peeking through unexpected places like car windows or small cracks in tree branches. I love interesting shapes in nature including smudges on the sidewalk that seem to perfectly uniform to be random.
I am truly fueled by the world around me.
Carrie: What does the word artist mean to you?
To me, “artist” means a courageous heart equipped with a certain inclination to a set of skills that make them adept at communicating messages that go beyond words.
Everyone is an artist, including: accountants, politicians and astronauts. An artist is someone who shows up fiercely kind with all of their talents and gifts to use for their community.
Art is about drive, grit, expression and using all of what you are to make the world a better place-even if it’s the smallest fraction better, even if you’re happiest for the moments when you are painting alone. It all counts to the grand total of happiness and beauty that there is in the world. Especially now, being an artist is important.
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