Soren Kierkegaard said, God has given each of us our marching orders. Our purpose here on earth is to find those orders and carry them out. Those orders acknowledge our special gifts. Akiane Kramarik has some very special gifts, and she discovered them at a very early age.
Akiane began drawing at four, and by the age of six had produced internationally acclaimed paintings. At seven she began writing poetry, and since then has been featured on Oprah, CNN, Good Morning America, and many, many other national media. She’s the bestselling author of two books, Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her Poetry and My Dream Is Bigger Than I-Memories of Tomorrow.
Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Canada, and she was selected as one of 20 most accomplished visual artists in the world by Tribute Entertainment in London and ABI in the United States. She’s an inductee into the Kids Hall of Fame, as well as the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. Her art has been featured in exhibits throughout the United States and in Singapore, and her paintings sell today for $50,000 to $1 million per painting.
It’s very appropriate, and an expression of who Akiane is, that she donates a substantial portion from the sales of her paintings to select charities about which she is passionate.
Interviewing Akiane is Bobbi DePorter, the founder of SuperCamp and of Quantum Learning Network. Over 50,000 young people have gone through SuperCamp over the last 25 or 30 years, and SuperCamp has become internationally recognized as a result. Thousands of teachers have been trained in the unique learning methods that Bobbi has created. To learn more, go to www.QLN.com.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Oh, my goodness! It’s an honor to be on the call! Thank you so much for letting me talk to you.
BOBBI DEPORTER: It’s my pleasure to do this. Janet had called me and said, Would you do an interview with somebody? She said, Don’t answer. Don’t answer until you go to her website. I did go to your website, Akiane, and was so moved and had so much emotion come up. I know you hear that from others; but I immediately called back and said, Yes, yes. I want to do the interview!
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Thank you.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I work with thousands of teens, and I see the gifts in everyone. People open them at different times, and you are certainly someone who opened yours very early. It’s so big, the impact that you’re making on the world. You give people so much hope and inspiration. That’s what really moves me and why I’m so excited to talk to you.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Thank you.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I want to start with some questions. First of all, the more global question is this. Would you tell us the story of how you began painting your beautiful art?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Of course. It all started when I was four years old. At that time my family didn’t believe in God, I didn’t go to church, and we didn’t even pray. One day I started having these visions and dreams about heaven, different dimensions, galaxies, and even universes. For months, I started having these very often, every minute or so, but I didn’t tell anybody because God told me no one will understand.
When months went by, everything was crowding my mind; so many ideas were stuffed into my memory. I had to put it down somehow. I put it down on paper. I started with drawing; I started drawing all these images I was seeing in my mind, faces mostly. Days and weeks went by, and my mom started catching this idea that I have a gift and I have these visions and dreams.
I told her some of my dreams and my visions. Of course, she really didn’t believe me at first. It took time and patience. Sooner or later, my family started believing in me. Since then, I went into pastels-that’s when I was six years old-and then I soon went to acrylics and oils. Now my favorite medium, what I prefer, is acrylics, and that’s what I’m working on right now.
It’s just been an incredible journey going on TV shows such as Oprah, and CNN with Lou Dobbs. It’s just such an amazing and adventurous journey, and I’m so glad I’m able to be here and talk to you.
BOBBI DEPORTER: It must be something to think back in time. At four years old, it must have felt like such a responsibility at a young age.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Exactly.
BOBBI DEPORTER: Do you still have that feeling of what it was at that time?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: I was actually very confused at first. I don’t know. The confused feeling kind of drifted away, and I started believing my gut feeling. I started viewing all these images and all these visions and dreams. I just wanted so badly to show it to people, and that’s what I did. I started from drawing to pastels, and into painting. I didn’t have a teacher.
God was my teacher. Through mistakes and through effort I grasped that idea of perfection. I kind of taught myself how to paint. That’s why I got this far; I had the patience, I had the effort, and the inspiration. That’s what I tell other children. If you have that effort, inspiration, you can do anything. You have to have that.
BOBBI DEPORTER: One thing you do is give so much inspiration with what’s possible. When I looked at your website, I was so moved. When I looked at it I thought, Wow! These are masterpieces at such a young age. My mind started to say, This isn’t possible. I’m looking, and it is possible. Then I think, What else do I think is impossible that could be possible if I apply my mind and heart to it? I know that you’re spreading that image and being a model of inspiration in that way, of checking what our mindsets are and what is possible.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Exactly.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I can just imagine your mother at that time. I put myself in that place.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Yes, she was very confused. She really didn’t grab the idea that I was having visions and dreams. At that time, we didn’t even have newspapers or television. We had radio. That’s why I think my mom understood me. I didn’t have any friends at that time. We were all in this little cube. We didn’t have any access to the outside world because we have a different type of family.
At that time, she grabbed the idea that I had this particular vision and I had this gift of drawing. That’s kind of how it all started. She inspired me. Even today, she’s just such a role model for me. She probably always will be. I always thank her for picking those drawings from the garbage can, which I threw away, and saving them. She’s just an inspiration to me, too.
BOBBI DEPORTER: Do you still have the dreams or the spiritual experiences today? Are they similar type dreams?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Yes, I do have dreams and visions. Quite often, when I was between four and nine or 10 years old, it was very frequently; but now that I’m getting older, somehow visions and dreams transformed into my painting. It’s like water coming through me without me even knowing it. I do still have visions and dreams of different worlds and dimensions, but there aren’t so many now as then.
BOBBI DEPORTER: How interesting that you say water coming through you and your experiences. Do you feel in any way that you’re entering another world like ours, but more beautiful? Do you actually see it, or is it more abstract?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: That’s a very good question. Some are abstract and some were so real that I thought I already woke up in that dream. It was so real, and I could actually even touch those leaves, touch those flowers and those stars. It felt so real to me. It was real. When I was five-and-a-half years old, I actually disappeared. I vanished from the world. So many policemen were looking for me, and FBI, in Rolla, Missouri.
Everyone in the whole town was looking for me, and for six hours I completely disappeared. I was, of course, with God. Six hours later I came back, and I told my mom about the experience. Since then, I’ve just had so many of those happenings and those events. It’s an incredible feeling that I was able to have this opportunity to have these experiences and have these events. Those dreams and visions are so real. Some are real and some are abstract. It just depends on what God really wants me to see.
BOBBI DEPORTER: You communicate so well. I’m wondering if you went there, came back and couldn’t remember, what a difference that would be. To come back and be able to communicate about it and then represent it in so many ways as you do is quite incredible.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Thank you. I’d really like to share something. When we were talking about the same subject, when I was between four and six years old, my mom asked me a question, You told me that you’ve always been in heaven and in galaxies. How much time were you in these places? I looked at my mom with a straight face and I said, Mom, you don’t understand. I’m already there watching myself.
That’s why I painted the painting called Eternity. It’s all about the shared self and the heavenly self. It’s so incredible and such a powerful meaning that God has given me, that through painting I’m able to tell other people that if you are able to see yourself from heaven to earth, you just have to just let go of everything, see it, and believe in it. That’s what I did. I’m still believing in it, and I’m still seeing it. It’s such an incredible experience.
BOBBI DEPORTER: Right now, are you saying that you see both, being there and here at the same time and all one?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Exactly. I see both points of views. I can see myself in heaven or different places, and I can see myself here. I could be in my room reading. I can see myself doing that. I could be painting. I could see myself painting. It’s really strange but amazing at the same time. That’s what I call the shared self, because I’m part of myself and I’m part of God. He just gave me that different point of view.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I can feel it in my body. I hear you say that you’re amazed, too. That feels like more of a sharing, too. It’s wonderful that you’re able to talk to us about it, knowing that you’re feeling the amazement of it all.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: You have to do the same thing. You just have to believe in it and let go of everything around you. God will give you that feeling; God will give you that pair of eyes. You just have to believe in God to do that.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I know you talk a lot about moments of silence. Could you say more about that? I have a feeling that that’s being in a place where others can experience this. Do you have things that you can tell people to bring them closer?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Oh, my goodness! There are so many things. There is one thing, specifically and personally, that I do, and others can do the same thing. It’s to go into nature or somewhere peaceful and quiet, forget everything around you and just let go. I, myself, just soak it all in, the ideas, the dreams, the visions, even the snapshots. It all depends on our patience.
Everybody could do it; you just have to go into peacefulness, go into somewhere that’s very quiet. It will come to you. As I said before, it just all depends on our patience. That’s what I do, personally.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I noticed on your website you mentioned patience, and I can’t remember if you said that even you wanted more patience. I wasn’t sure what you meant. Could you talk a little bit more about that?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Sure. That is true. There are some moments I really wanted patience. Of course, I do have impatience while I paint, in poetry, or even everyday life. For a painting such as The Dream, Jesus is standing over the past, future, and the present in the clouds. That took me 350 hours. Of course, I was very impatient. Something inside me helped me go through those hours, get through those weeks.
I’m very happy that I was able to do that. I can look back and say, Yes, I did that already! I’m so glad I finished that painting. A big weight falls off of me, but it’s a good weight.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I would think that you would be so in the moment to create such beauty. Then you talk about, at the end, feeling such fulfillment in what you create.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Exactly. Most of the time, I just imagine myself being inside that painting, painting the painting, touching the face, touching the animal’s fur, touching the eyes and the landscape. I just put myself in that place, staring at that specific scene. That’s why I was able to paint those scenes, because I imagined it, I believed it and I saw it.
BOBBI DEPORTER: Have you been there, where your work is? Do you see it? I know it’s so influenced your creation. Can you tell us that process between that?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: When I have an inspiration, for example, for a painting, I used to go walk down the street to look at a flower, see a dog, see an animal, or just be in my dream. Anything, actually, could inspire me. That’s why people ask me the same question over and over again, What inspires you? What inspires you? I say, Everything: God, my family, my friends, people around the world.
When I get that inspiration, ideas just come to me in that quiet, in that peaceful, moment. I just take those ideas, grab onto them, and polish them with the paints or with words. I believe everyone could do the same thing. They just have to let go and believe in it, whatever it is. It could be music. It could be poetry. You could be a journalist. It could be anything. Anyone who’s unafraid to create could do the same thing.
BOBBI DEPORTER: It’s seeing beauty in things. When you look around, you see the beauty that many other people will miss. When you paint, you bring that out so people can see it.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Yes, that’s exactly what I really want to do and what I’m trying to do, bring that out more and more each time.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I know the world has responded to your work in a very big way. Can you tell me more about that? How does that feel inside for you?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Oh, my goodness! It’s breathtaking. I’m speechless. People all around the world call me, email me, or send me letters of how my paintings changed their lives. Some have family members who are well again from their illnesses. Some people-of course, I’m not going to please everybody-out there really dislike my work. Most of the people I talk to are so inspirational. That itself keeps me moving, keeps me waking up in the morning and picking up that paint brush. I just start painting.
BOBBI DEPORTER: It’s giving so much out and then feeling what does come back. It’s the world being able to give back in that way, telling you how much you’ve inspired their hope. I would think that’s a circle that just keeps going, being so inspired about your desire to give inspiration and hope. Then when that goes out there and gets you acknowledged back, that would be a cycle. Can you tell us more about your process? We talk about the beauty you see and the image, but tell us more about that whole process you go through.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: When I get an idea, for example, of a face, I sketch it out. I sketch out the people who I know and see what forms are appropriate for my mind. Then the ideas just come to me. Actually, I have quite a story. I was looking for a model for two years of Jesus. I just gave up. I looked through malls; I looked through stores, grocery stores.
I couldn’t find anyone. What happened was that two years later I just gave up. I said, God, if you want me to paint Jesus, can you please send me a model? What happened was the next day I heard a knock on the door. It was a carpenter, six-and-a-half feet tall. I just stared at him and said, You’re the one. You’re perfect. I need you to model for me. Those scenes, those events, come very often and very randomly.
If I have that model, if I have that face in front of me, I sketch them out, figure out what the best pose is, and I paint them. If it’s a landscape or an animal, I just take study and my imagination I just put it all together. It’s a quite different variety.
BOBBI DEPORTER: Does the image all come together for you before you start? Do you see it in your mind or imagination, or do you start drawing and let your hands create in that way?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: It goes both ways, actually. I could have a perfect, vivid image in my mind and I can just draw it out. Most of the time, the ideas come along in pieces while I paint, while I’m in my studio, and while I’m just concentrating on that canvas. It comes to me every moment, every second. As I said before, it mostly comes in pieces or segments, but I believe that’s a better way because I can remember more. I can see more and have more ideas. I think it’s a better way to do that.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I understand that one of your paintings appears differently from different angles. Could you describe how that came about?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: ‘Innocence’ is young Mary, a frontal portrait of Mary. Everyone did see what I was seeing; the frontal Mary looks young, happy and uncommonly beautiful. However, by looking at her face from the side, she appeared older with tears and even wrinkles covering her whole face. I kind of created a holographic image because of the multiple layers of paint.
I don’t know why this happened, but maybe it’s for a manifestation of two different times in her life. It’s still a mystery to me how it came about, but I completed that painting when I was 12 years old. I stare at the painting, even now that I’m finished, and I just look at it and think, Oh, my goodness! That is so amazing!
BOBBI DEPORTER: I’m thinking of the image in your head, going through your heart and through your hand to the page. Do you feel a flow? Is your hand directed in some way, or did you preconceive how you were going to do this with this image of Mary?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: I think it was your first quote. It just came to me little by little. Those little paints kind of collected all together on the nose, on the cheek, and little by little it appeared on the canvas without me even knowing it. One day I switched my light a little bit, and there you go. I saw it.
BOBBI DEPORTER: One of your paintings I saw on your website was Hand of Destiny. Can you talk a little bit about the meaning of that?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Sure, no problem. I’m pretty sure I completed that when I was 12-and-a-half or 13; I’m not sure. I’ve painted so many paintings I really don’t remember. The painting is called Hand of Destiny, and the painting is all about no matter what happens around us or to us through love, our soul reaches immortality, conquering all dimensions and even all destinies.
As we experience punches of sorrow and touches of joy, we cross different dimensions in participating and creating our own destiny. Of course, this is a story of choosing happiness over sadness, and choosing to close the wounds of time instead of becoming the wounds themselves. The hand represents decisions and choices, and they move according to our free will.
One of the hands is moving in a human realm helplessly. The other hand is moving in a spiritual realm and closing the separation, the wound of earthly reality. We have to desire our future. That is why I painted the left hand holding its own chosen destiny. I saw that meaning, I felt that meaning, and I had to put it down in paint, and that’s what I did.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I look at the paintings and what they did. They image things and feel things. It’s so interesting to hear your story, your side, where you got your inspiration.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Thank you so much.
BOBBI DEPORTER: There’s another painting that I had personal interest in, The Quantum World.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Yes, that is such a fun and such an amazing painting. I loved doing that. That painting is called The Quantum World, and I think I painted that when I was 12 years old. It’s all about the images I was seeing, the places I was visiting. It’s just a small, itsy-bitsy, microscopic view. There’s so much out there, but I had to put it down somehow on canvas.
That was a small, little part that I was seeing. I put different dimensions in there. I put parallel universes. I put everything that I know of my past inside that painting. That’s what I was seeing, actually. That’s why I painted it. That particular painting was such fun and such an amazing experience. I love that.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I love it, too. The name of our organization is Quantum Learning, and there is a definition in Webster’s for ‘quantum’. The definition is ‘interactions that transform energy into radiance’. I saw that definition when I was looking at your painting; that definition became real and visual for me.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Thank you.
BOBBI DEPORTER: I know that you find different meanings in different colors. Would you talk about that, or give us some examples of that?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: That’s a very good question. Many times when I was visiting different places, I’ve seen different colors that were completely different from here on the earth, but the colors that I was seeing resembled the earthly colors. For example, white to me is the color of truth; pink is the color of trust. There’s another one; black, to me, is the color of suffering.
There are so many other colors that represent different feelings for me. My favorite color is blue. Blue, to me, represents the mind, the color of the mind. I can relate so much to that, because I love painting blue. I love using my mind. They kind of balance each other out.
BOBBI DEPORTER: You write poetry as well, and you have said that your paintings are like a flower and your poetry like the black ant on the flower. Describe what you mean. I noticed it was a black ant.
AKIANE KRAMARIK: The black ant represents my poetry because most of my poetry describes more of the suffering and the pain, but the flower represents my paintings. If you have a close-up of an ant, you see suffering, but if you go far-you have to go far to see the full perspective-the dot fades away. What I’m saying is my poetry describes what people feel, and most of my paintings are inspirational.
That is why they balance each other out. They work for each other. That’s probably why God gave me those gifts, so people could relate differently to different words or different paintings. It gives a very big variety, also.
BOBBI DEPORTER: Could you say more about that inspiration?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: Excuse me? Sorry, I couldn’t hear you.
BOBBI DEPORTER: The inspiration of going and writing poems, you said that it was about how people feel. Can you describe, possibly, your first poem, or how that first came?
AKIANE KRAMARIK: My poems actually came to me when I was seven years old. At that time it was part of our home-schooling project. From that first day on, I just fell in love with writing words and putting words together. Initially, I really didn’t intend to write people’s lives, and at the end, I did. It was very interesting, even to me. Day after day went by and the words gradually increased.
I didn’t even know the words themselves because poetry comes to me effortlessly. Sometimes I have to go in a dictionary to find out what that means, but these words are so meaningful to me and so meaningful to other people. They can relate to that. I, of course, write about suffering and pain, but some of them are plainly about love, happiness and joy.
Many people just love that. My favorite poem, actually, is called Love. I wrote that when I was 11 years old. That’s probably, by far, out of the thousands of poems I wrote, my favorite one.
BOBBI DEPORTER: Did you have one or two that you’ll share?
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