We could not help but notice that one of our favorite artists, Annie Stegg, whose work we’ve featured numerous times on these pages as well as on our social media, seems to have a thing for the sea. And sea monsters. And ships, and various creatures flailing about in the waves. Below we ask her a bit about her inspiration and oceanic love.
Enchanted Living: Can you tell us what inspires you?
Annie Stegg: I am very inspired by folklore and mythology and the natural world. Nothing quite compares to the beauty found in nature. Fairy tales and folklore help shape how we see the world and act as reflections of a different time. Through these stories we can explore different cultures as well as ourselves, and I am very drawn to that.
EL: What are you trying to portray in your work?
AS: I really hope someone viewing my work will see the beauty in things that maybe aren’t traditionally seen as beautiful, and maybe just bring a little bit more mystery into the world. I really like hearing other people’s interpretations of my work. Symbols and themes are going to be different from person to person, and for that reason I actually really don’t like talking too much about what I was thinking when creating a piece. I don’t want to change a vision that someone else had or what it represented to them. Every once in a while someone will write to me and tell me what they felt when looking at a certain painting. It’s always nice and encouraging for me as an artist if they’ve found something hidden or have made a connection that other people haven’t. It makes me feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit.
EL: You have a lot of water imagery in your work. Can you talk about that?
AS: Water has always been a symbol of mystery and the unknown. I love to think about what lurks in the depths. When I was younger, I lived in a house that had a stream in the backyard. An entire world could exist under a rock—something that was hidden until I came to uncover it. There were so many questions and so much mystery! It was amazing how something small, like a rainstorm, could change everything. The water would rise, and then suddenly there was a new world to explore.
EL: You also feature many creatures and humans interacting with animals in some way.
AS: Humans have always shared a relationship with animals, and for many of us, they are part of our everyday lives. Almost twenty-three years ago I brought home a pair of small silvery catfish to live in the aquarium in my bedroom at my parents’ home. I loved them so much, though they were not particularly eye-catching fish. They don’t have long flowing fins or bright colors. They would dart back and forth and back and forth endlessly. As I grew up, so did my little catfish. I graduated high school and college. I moved out into my first apartment. I started my career as an artist. I eventually bought a house. I got married and had children. With every move I made, my fish would get a new home as well. Their small aquarium eventually became a 190-gallon tank, which currently sits in my living room. Over time my catfish lost their silvery color and turned a deep charcoal gray. Only hints of the silver remained. But what they lost aesthetically, they did not lose in spirit. Back and forth and back and forth they would swim, just like when they were tiny. I know it may seem strange to get attached to a fish. I remember staying up late in my childhood home to secretly draw in my room using the glow of their aquarium as my source of light. I would have never guessed then that one day my children would be staring through the glass to look at these same creatures swimming back and forth and back and forth. They have appeared in quite a few of my paintings.
EL: Do you have favorite ocean myths?
AS: I enjoy reading about the goddess nymphs in Greek mythology. There were fifty nereids who presided over different aspects of the sea, from the sea shore to the frothy waves. It is so interesting to read about the personification of these natural elements to a mythical human form.
EL: How do you stay enchanted in your own life?
AS: I love having a quiet time to myself for reflection and discovery. The time I spend painting is how I center myself. It’s a visual representation of my current thoughts and feelings. When I look at one of my paintings, I can remember what was happening in my life at the time I was creating it—the amalgamation of invisible thoughts and feelings that went into this one tangible object. For me, art is how I communicate to the world. Whenever I need inspiration, getting outside and being in nature always helps me get new ideas for new works and feel inspired again! I really enjoy hiking and gardening. Even places that I visit often, like my own backyard, are constantly transforming as things grow and the seasons change. Once a year I plan a longer trip to a nature preserve on the eastern coast of Georgia that I’ve been visiting since my childhood. Because the area is protected, the beaches are wild with natural beauty. It’s incredibly inspiring.