Anna Ayres- Creating a Bridge Between People and Nature with Her Paintings. PGW Sept 2020
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Peaceful Green Warrior of September 2020:
Interview with Anna Ayres
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Moretown and Grand Isle, Vermont which is where I fell in love with nature. I live in Gulfport, Florida now. When I first “met” Gulfport it was love at first sight. The community here is really wonderful. I get to bike everywhere and the volleyball courts are just 2 miles from my house. I work at an art gallery in Gulfport where 14 other local artists are represented. Life is beautifully simplified here!
I am a painter, predominantly an oil painter of nature. Nature has always been my inspiration. I feel like we get everything we need from the natural world - a sense of peace, of being connected to something bigger than ourselves, something greater, it gives us purpose, drive and motivation. I am in daily awe of this environment that we get to be a part of and my paintings are just depictions of that. By following this urge to paint I hope that I am giving a little window into that beauty and that when other people see it they are inspired to live more heart-filled, wholesome lifestyles. It really just comes down to caring for ourselves and putting the time in to become better human beings.
Our motto is take care of our planet and each other, why is that important?
I think taking care of the environment and taking care of each other really starts with caring for yourself. I was in Vermont recently and went for a nature walk with the dogs I was taking care of. I started at a trailhead off of a dirt road that went into the woods up to some ponds. Just a really gorgeous setting and a perfect day. At the start of the trailhead there were a couple of houses but not many. Near the houses in the woods there was all this trash: old toilets, old cars but also little crappy stuff like donut wrappers. My thought was “what the hell, look at this gorgeous area being dumped on.” It got me thinking, what inspires people to behave that way?
What I always come to is this: if you don't care about yourself, you can’t care about much else. That starts for each of us in childhood. We all grow up with our own personal traumas and dysfunction. As we each move into adulthood, it’s our duty to find ways to heal our wounds so we can start to care more. In this way, I believe taking care of ourselves is the most important place to start.
I think there is a depletion of caring and it starts with how we feel about ourselves day in and day out. If someone is not feeling good about themselves, and I have total compassion for those of us struggling emotionally, mentally, physically etc, I have been in my own dark places of not caring and we can all relate to that to some degree, I encourage us all to take a closer look. There are so many tools and people out there willing to help and listen. We each have our own inner guidance and it is going to keep knocking until we make a choice to open the door and explore what’s inside.
Any advice on how to be a Peaceful Green Warrior?
Take control and responsibility for your own life. It is a work in progress; as it is for me! I am not always the most proactive individual, however, like I was saying in the previous question it comes down to us as individuals to take action and do the work. When we heal ourselves we care more about other people, the things we do, the ways we behave, our surroundings, etc. And that all has an impact on the external world. For me it is daily practice. I meditate every morning to get connected to my higher power. I get outside as much as possible throughout a day. I live a life dedicated to art, inspiration and painting even though it’s challenging. I think the best things are! I think it is following the inner guides that we all have. If we are following distractions and band-aiding our pain by looking externally for solutions, then we are just running circles in the hamster wheel.
On my recent trip to Vermont, two significant laws have passed. The first is that there are no more free plastic bags in grocery stores. If you forget your own, you may purchase them for 10 cents a piece, and perhaps they only offer paper bags rather than plastic in that event. I can’t say that with certainty, but if I had to guess, that’s their policy. They’ve also passed that all food scraps must go in compost bins outside to decompose rather than in the landfill. Vermont is a state that continually stands out as a leader in taking action towards environmental concerns. If we can elect more government officials who care in these sorts of ways, then there’s more potential for slowing down our negative impact. The steps we can take as individuals may seem insignificant at times, but they influence other people and they add up.
When we do the inner work, we care more about our outer world. That is when we show up to help, to vote, to use our voice. But if you find yourself looking the other way from these bigger issues, pause to ask yourself the real reasons behind your indifference.
Any tips on how others can get more involved?
Yes! Find a cause that you feel connected to whatever that may be because it is not all about one good thing or another. We all have different traits, qualities, skills and talents. That’s what makes us unique, and stronger as whole than as individuals.
Perhaps you’re passionate about politics, or people, or comedy, or plants. A friend of mine, Jen Andreani, is passionate about horticulture and has created an entirely edible backyard and a community composting program over the past few years. It’s absolutely beautiful, inspiring and full of peace. It’s like the Garden of Eden before the apple was eaten. When we desire to do something, there is a reason for it.
My art comes from the urge to do it and I enjoy the process. After I’ve put my energy into a piece and call it done, the process doesn’t end. It then gets to be viewed and experienced by other people, who have their own relationship with the art that I created. The art I make tends to bring its audience a sense of joy, inspiration or peace. It comes from something that resonates with me in relation to the natural world. We all feel this in our own ways. It speaks of something greater that we are all a part of. Art connects Earth and People; it is a bridge. I get to create a bridge between us and the place we call home. Just like when music stirs our heart, tickles us and makes us feel joy that we weren't feeling before we listened to it. It wakes us up. And that is the gift of the artist or creative person. And we all have gifts to share!
So find a cause that you can get passionate about. Share your talents with the world.