Akiane donates a portion of her artwork proceeds to formidable charities such as Kids Free the Kids (abuse, exploitation and slavery of children), Northwest Medical Teams (medical care, food and shelter for orphanages), PANCAN and MACC (cancer societies), Netherlands Kidney Foundation, needy children in Africa and Lithuania, local police and fire departments, Christian schools and churches, and many others.
The Kramarik family was poor while Akiane was growing up, so they had to create their own fun pastimes and learning experiences. Foreli recalls, “Every day I would dress our children warmly and take them across the cornfields to watch the sun set over the nuclear power plant that was visible on the horizon. We spent hours counting birds in the sky and guessing which direction the steam from the plant would drift. At home we made a swing for Akiane, where she spent many hours rocking and napping. The boys grew monarch butterflies from cocoons they found in the meadows, wrote their own books, and turned tree branches into swords. They made wreaths from flowers or pine needles, play-dough from flour, tents from blankets, and forts from cardboard boxes or snow. The children and I made carrot pancakes and almond cookies….Almost every day we walked a few miles to the playground…Akiane liked to stay there half the day-even on chilly days-so we always packed books, blankets, and plenty of food.”
Even today, Akiane’s daily homeschool routine is a bit different from others her age. She wakes up at 4:30 am, has a drink of water, exercises, and prays. Then she paints and writes poetry for about 4-5 hours while it is still quiet in the house, before her brothers get up. After that she studies Russian and Lithuanian. Finally she reads her Bible. She also plays the piano and knows sign language.
Having always been a detail-oriented, tactile child who liked to collect and study rocks, shells, leaves and flowers, Akiane paints what she sees and feels in such a way that the textures seem to pour from her paintbrush effortlessly. From an early age, Akiane showed a high degree of technical skill in the making of her strikingly realistic paintings. They appear to have been made by the steady hand and experienced eye of a much older, professional artist. It was this fine quality of her art that led her to be labeled as a child prodigy.
Akiane describes her painting process this way: “I pray and wait for an answer in pictures, words or ideas. When I have a picture in my mind, then I think for a while how I can put it on the canvas. If it is a portrait, I search for a model or study many people wherever I go. If it is a landscape, or an animal I research the resources or work straight from my memory and imagination. For example, when I was flying on the airplane I decided to paint birds above the islands. Then I studied how islands and birds had to look correctly from above. Since one of my favorite birds is swans, I studied hundreds of them sketching them in different positions. I often go to the library to study gardens, plants and farm animals. I enjoy observing for myself the behavior of wildlife in the nature. By the lake or river we see many eagles, ospreys, and swans. I watch them move, fly, land or play. Then I observe the shadows and the light on their bodies and take many pictures or sketch.”
Although she learned how to draw and paint through self-study and observation, Akiane states however that she is primarily taught by God. Akiane says, “I am self-taught. In other words, God is my teacher. I really like working by myself without any distractions, learning from my own mistakes.” All of Akiane’s paintings have a unique meaning behind them. As a young child, Akiane was always unusually sensitive to the moods of those around her. Interestingly, her concern for people and their emotions is reflected in the fact that she enjoys painting faces the most.
Akiane composed a series of Jesus paintings after finding the perfect model. “I always think about Jesus and talk about Him,” she said. “I was looking for a model for a long, long time, and when I couldn’t find anyone, one day I suggested to my family to pray all day for this model so God would send the right one.” That very day, a tall man who also happened to be a carpenter came to their door looking for work. Akiane said, “I told my mother that that was him. I want him to be my model,” she recalled. The carpenter (who wishes to remain anonymous) was reluctant at first, because as a humble Christian he thought he “wasn’t worthy to represent his Master.” But he called back a week later to say that he had changed his mind.
Akiane frequently has visions of God, Jesus, angels, and Heaven. As the young teen attempts to describe what she sees, she has difficulty finding the right words. “God is enormous. He is light, He is love, He is kind, He is beautiful. It’s hard to say who He specifically is. [God is] an emotion. He’s a person. Each time when I paint, God is all around me. He works through people, so it’s hard to say just quite who He is. I believe [God is] so much larger than our human capacity can handle,” she says.
Akiane’s parents and two older brothers, Delfini and Jeanlu, are involved in the enterprise of promoting and selling her work. She also has two younger brothers – Ilia is six and Aurelius is her new baby brother. Through Akiane’s influence, her family underwent a spiritual transformation which brought them all to Christianity. Regarding her daughter’s unfolding ministry, Akiane’s mother says, “We don’t have an answer as to why this is happening. We don’t have a clue. We’re just thankful to God.” When asked why she thinks she received her special gift, Akiane replies: “I have been blessed by God. And if I’m blessed, there is one reason and one reason only, and that is to help others.”
The following videos are in chronological order:
From Akiane's Blog:
I define spirituality as a search for love, beauty, happiness and wisdom. Spirituality is a journey that we never finish. It has nothing to do with our levels of development, achievement, awareness or intention.
"There's so much negativity in the media. Teenagers going to public school --it's hard for them, so, to be honest with you I feel for them, and I want to create this environment where they are free in a way where they can express themselves but with their art ability --with their talents. I want to inspire them to bring their utmost potential."
Secrets to my success:
1- Dedication and passion. I am completely focused on my work and get up at four in the morning, for many hours painting in my studio, detail after detail, layer after layer, month after month—sometimes spending as much as four months on a single painting.
2- Uniqueness—whatever you create has to be one of kind and so unique that the work would speak for itself and people ...would be drawn to it.
3- Belief, dream and visualization. Envisioning that your work is already completed creates the finish line.
4- Trial and error—I come back to my work when most children would quit. I do not get too frustrated at the mistakes, but keep on coming back to fix them.
5- Enjoying the journey, not just a destination. Life is a journey, and whatever we create we must savor and enjoy without hurry—then the destination will come by itself. We should not focus just on success, because it has its own timing very often different than ours.
6- Patience. We never find patience by looking for it. We find patience by looking for a purpose. And the more we hurry for patience, the longer it takes us to reach it.
7- Inspiration. I do not wait for inspiration to come to me. Inspiration comes to me. By committing myself to work through challenging times the inspiration now comes to me when I least expect it.
8- Energy. Our success equals our energy. And we have the most energy in the first part of the day. My huge part of success was waking up early for the most difficult task which is realist art. And keeping healthy lifestyle—nutrient dense live foods, sunshine, exercise, movement, laughter, and wholesome relationships.
9- Consistency. Painting by painting makes a gallery, poem by poem makes a book. I believe in consistent work ethic, in a marathon working ~ not sprinting. Even though there are days when I paint up to fourteen hours, it is usually at the very end of the painting. The consistent pace of four to five hours of painting a day does not look a lot, but does add up as months go by.
10- Rejuvenation. I work six days a week and always have one day off for rejuvenation. During my leisure I love writing my poetry, composing on a piano,
11- Adaptation and flexibility. I had to adapt quickly to different working environments. For years when we moved frequently, I was painting next to a laundry room, an entry way, and a family room so I had to be patient until we built our new house with a spacious studio. I believe, if we are happy with little, we will receive in abundance in time. Starting with little and increasing gradually works very well for the balance of our mind.
12- Family support. All children entrepreneurs need at least one adult who would help them financially and morally.
13- Love. If we put others before ourselves—we are already abundantly rich.
"With so many scientific achievements we know so little of where we came from and where we are going. But we know even less of the most important discovery of all – Love. Only love can accept our differences as we journey through life. And only love can allow space for our growth."
"Portals of divinity are everywhere. I believe that children may enter these divine portals easier, because they are seeking for answers in the purest way."
"I wish that people could love more."
"I really love sharing my gift with others. At the same time, I'm just a normal kid having fun and that's what life is all about—having fun at the same time as helping people."
"Those that expose themselves as knowing the truth, lose the battle of innocence and humility and eventually pull a trigger at the universe. Wisdom chooses the unknown to be its reason."
"I believe everyone should have an opportunity to search for truth their own way. Humility, peace, child-like enthusiasm, acceptance, and sincerity is the true infinity engine!"
"Life is precious. We should not take anything for granted. Living every moment as if it was our first and last is a genuine life of gratitude, acceptance and wisdom."
"The art of life is loving and listening to one another."
"Our experiences are waiting for us—we simply chose to live through the challenges and mistakes. If we don’t live through difficulties, we cannot see the solved puzzle at the end."
"We are all ONE, no matter in what form, space or time. As ONE we can change the world if we start changing ourselves."
"When we feel sad, all we need to do is to count our blessings, no matter how few we notice, so we can feel grateful for what we have been given. Sadness soon disappears and, in return, we get inspired to bless others."
Visit Akiane's website Be sure to check out her amazing gallery along with what she's written about each painting!
in5d addendum: What is your talent or gift?
Here is the bottom line: We all have individual talents and gifts. Find your talent and use it to the best of your ability. Here are a couple examples:
I remember when I was first talked into joining a "scratch" league in bowling after I threw my 1st 300. A scratch league is for bowlers who average over 200 and don't have any handicap. It’s the same equivalent as being a professional bowler. Reluctantly, I agreed, even though my average was 194. So, when I joined the scratch league, I found myself constantly looking at the scoreboard, comparing myself to someone who started out the night by throwing 6 strikes in a row. In the meanwhile, my average was wallowing in the low 190's. I felt like i didn't belong in this league. Towards the end of the season, I accepted the fact that at any given time, I could be the one that other people are comparing themselves to. I finished off the season strongly and averaged 196 that year. The following year, I threw my next 300 and won the most improved bowler award when I finished with a 211 average. I've averaged over 200 in league bowling ever since.
There are a lot better looking websites created by webmasters with much more talent than me, but mine is ranked much higher than most. The original content that I add is written from my heart and reaches people more than the design. And while I always try to give my absolute best efforts, I know I don't have to be the best webmaster or the best writer to reach people. I have a comfort zone exactly where I am, but I'm always looking for ways to improve myself in every area of life.
Before I became a webmaster, I was a therapist who worked with at-risk youth. One of my gifts is the ability to work well with children, as children have always gravitated to me for my entire life. My daughter has this gift as well. As a therapist, I developed a patent pending program designed to help families who are at-risk of dissolution, for children who are going through the reunification process and for parents in need of parenting classes. To this day, every person has successfully completed my program and not one client has reoffended back into the system. I also wrote a book, 100+ Common Parenting Mistakes.
While my program was never picked up by any other human services organization and my book hasn’t been published by a major publishing company, I’ve reached a lot of families with my program and have helped to make this world a better place for all of us in both of these endeavors.
Who knows? Maybe my program will be recognized in the human services industry in the near future? Maybe my book will be picked up by a publisher? Had either of those happened a few years ago, in5d might not ever have existed, so look at your path and abilities, and see where they are leading you.
What are your talents? Where is your comfort zone?
Sometimes, our lives lead us in directions that we thought we'd never fathom. 30 years ago, I was playing lead and rhythm guitar in a hard rock band. 17 years ago, I became a father. 10 years ago, I found my "home" in Florida. 5 years ago, I found myself. For most of my life, I was the world's biggest sports fanatic. For my entire life, I've been seeking the truth. And recently, I added a new website to my resumé, Holistic Cancer Research.
The bottom line is this: don't compare yourself to others and accept the path that you're on. You’re perfect exactly the way you are. Learn how to use your gifts in a way that makes you comfortable and remember to live within yourself, not someone else. Use this article for inspiration, but don't view it as an unattainable bar of achievement. Who says you can't do something greater? Who says you're doing anything less important?
The sky can't be the limit, because that implies limitations. You are infinite potential!