Like many people, North Carolina based artist Anne Neilson struggled to hear God’s calling for their life. Now, the artist well known for her depictions of angels is using her brushstroke based work as a ministry to create positive change in the homeless community and influence people of every walk of life.
Neilson told Faithwire in an interview “When I am…painting I am praying.”
“(It is) just kind of my time of praying as I am working on a commission. I am praying for those families (and) those children whatever they may be going through. Or if it is a piece and I don’t know where it is going to go, I am just praying.”
To help get into the right frame of mind, Neilson says she enters her studio and listens to praise music.
Her fans often say they have an emotional reaction while viewing the angels she creates, captivated by her ability to capture both the beauty and mystery of angels.
This week I spent time in New York participating in a press event with the NYC Rescue Mission. What a life changing time that I was able to write about on my blog. I invite you to read and reflect it on this Thanksgiving Eve… link in bio. Excerpt below. “Homelessness and its factors and symptoms are complex, but they aren’t hopeless. Homelessness has a face. It’s Ashley’s face… it’s the face of thousands of people who find themselves in a wholly unexpected situation, fighting for survival. But I’m encouraged by the simple truth that Jesus knows and recognizes each of His precious children. They are not forgotten or unseen, and I urge you to keep your eyes open for the Ashleys around you. Give them hope, encouragement, dignity and love. Make sure they know that we have not forgotten them. We are not blind to them.”
She had no idea that one day, one of the celebrities she admired most would become a fan of hers.
“When I was doing pottery I would always watch the Regis and Kathie Lee show and I knew her heart and I thought she would be great.”
“So I sent her an [angel painting book], and she emailed me a couple of days later and said, ‘this book transformed this incredible dreary January day and somehow you took hold of the holy spirit.’”
Within a week of their first email exchanges, Gifford stunned Neilson by unexpectedly showing up at her gallery.
According to Neilson, Gifford said that afternoon “I bet you are wondering why I am here. I woke up this morning during my prayer time and the Lord told me that I needed to come and encourage you, and here I am.”
Right then and there Gifford prayed for Neilson and before both signed Neilson’s coffee table book on that rainy day.
As the painter uses the beautiful brushstrokes to provide messages to the world, she explained in an interview with Faithwire she gets chills hearing the stories of how people are affected by her art.
“We were just at a show and this girl who just lost her father was sharing another story with me. I signed a book and as she was leaving, she came back with these tears, she was sobbing saying ‘art has never effected me in that way but I saw that painting and it just spoke to me.'”
Once, an elderly woman explained how she was unable to grieve the death of her 4-year-old granddaughter until seeing one of Anne’s paintings. It’s those sorts of experiences that keep her encouraged, knowing her work is being used by God to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Today is National Philanthropy Day, which makes it the perfect time to THANK YOU for helping us give back. Every purchase of an Anne Neilson Home product allows us to support nonprofit organizations making a difference around the world. Pictured: “Shoes of Hope – 2” (6 x 6) original by Anne Neilson and available at Anne Neilson Fine Art Gallery
Because of these responses, Neilson believes her paintings act more as a ministry.
“We are ministering to so many people on so many levels,” she said. That includes the homeless, a vulnerable community that a countless number of people have turned their back on.
Simply put, Neilson said, “I have a heart for the homeless.”
“When I had started painting these paintings I had gone to (a local shelter) and I was serving there and I left there and I thought ‘how am I going to do this?’ I clearly heard the Lord say ‘paint and give back.'”
“I came home that afternoon and three of my paintings had sold at this local gift store and I said ‘ok thats what I am going to do.'”
Now, many years after receiving this confirmation, Neilson is using her voice and art to help those less fortunate and encourage them in whatever season of life they find themselves in.