An Interview with Crowheart Creative

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1. What drew you to the work you’re doing now?

 After graduating college I had little direction or idea what I wanted to do, I had unknowingly become accustomed to going through the motions without stopping to speculate. At one point I was offered a job in Southern California, a Health Coach just outside of Malibu. I remember sitting in my little Missoula apartment imagining myself in Malibu and I burst into tears. I loved the west, the rugged west, the mountains, the dirt, the wildness of Montana and Wyoming. I turned down the job and kept spinning my wheels, moving from place to place, working odd jobs, grappling here and there for my “calling”.

Art has been an integral part of my life for years but I operated under the assumption I could never be an artist. I began challenging myself a little bit and tried asking every silversmith, ceramic artist, and blacksmith within a hundred mile radius if they would consider an apprenticeship. I found a few people who seemed slightly interested but not enough to take me under their wing. Finally, after hitting an especially dark, emotionally low point I gathered myself up and started drawing. I drew every day and obsessively poured myself into creating. Before I knew it I had commissioned work lined up, art shows, and a little dough in the bank. My work for Coyote Blue Coffee in Wyoming was my springboard, those drawings in particular launched me into a winter’s worth of commissioned artwork and the right dose of confidence to continue creating.

2. What do you like most about your work?

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 I love the progression my work is undergoing. It seems like week to week, month to month, the work gains more depth. It’s surprising and exciting to produce artwork that catches me off guard. I’m amazed with what can happen when I let go of expectations and allow the paint to move freely.

3. What have been the biggest “a-ha” moments in your business journey so far?

 No one really knows what they are doing. At times I’ve crippled myself with the opinions and approval of others. When I hurdle that glaring self-doubt I’m filled this powerful, immense, shimmering energy filled with “YES.”

My biggest “ah-ha” moment came when I acknowledged the beauty of my work comes from following inner urges, not from striving to please the masses.

4. Any big goals on the horizon?

  I have a large stack of goals on the horizon! I spent this summer wrapped up in commissioned pieces. With that phase winding down I’ve been scratching the itch to tackle bigger pieces and diving back into oils and acrylics. For the short term I am trying to finish up a couple acrylic paintings before leaving on my winter travels. Long term, well, that’s for me to know and ya’ll to find out!

5. How do you overcome the hard stuff? What motivates you to keep going?

  Most of the time my motivation is fueled by the long term vision. I’ve imagined how my life could manifest over the next year, even the next five to ten years. When the doubts start creeping in and fear tries to rear its ugly head I latch onto my dreams, I try to fixate on the big picture. It changes the momentary struggle into a manageable battle, just a bump on a long dirt road.

  I keep going and pushing because I genuinely believe I have something unique to share. To me, it feels like I’m barely scratching the surface of this beautifully complex world of creativity lodged away somewhere inside me.  I don’t intend for that to sound overly confident or conceited, I’ve truly always felt a restlessness below the surface, an odd tickle to let something free. Over the past two years I’ve slowly, slowly started asking myself to open up, to investigate, to run towards the fear and insecurities that used to inhibit my growth.

In that slow progression I’ve given myself the space to create, to fail, and to get back up and keep going.

6. Where can folks find you?

 I can be found on Instagram and my website: annavanuga.com, teaching yoga at the Breathing Room or Your Yoga, or out playing in the mountains with my boys.

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Questions from Crowheart Creative
Writing by Anna Vanuga
Photography by Rio Chantel

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