“I want my art to draw people’s attention to God, and I want my poetry to keep people’s attention to God.” ~Akiane
Homeschooled and self-taught in painting, 15-year-old Akiane (pronounced ah-kee-ah-nah) Kramarik has seen her artwork exhibited in museums around the world since she was 10. An internationally recognized prodigy, Akiane is the only known binary genius in both painting and poetry. She is a member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, and was selected as one of the twenty most accomplished visual artists in the world.
Akiane Kramarik was born on July 9, 1994, in Mount Morris, Illinois to a Lithuanian mother and an American father. The name Akiane means “ocean” in Russian. Akiane’s mother, Foreli, came from an atheistic family and her father, Markus, was a former Catholic who did not pray or go to church. Akiane was homeschooled, she had no babysitters, the family watched no television, and there were no neighbors to play with. Markus worked long hours, and Foreli stayed with her children all the time, giving them her complete attention. So imagine her parents’ surprise when one day their young daughter suddenly began talking about God and creating religious artwork.
The strange thing was, a Christian lady had called from Europe soon after Akiane was born, excitedly telling them what an incredible future was in store for their daughter. Since they were not believers, they did not take the woman’s passionate prophecy seriously at the time. Akiane says that she first met God when she was three, and that her art is inspired by visions that God provides in her dreams. “He said, ‘You have to do this, and I’ll help you.’ I said, ‘Yes, I will.’ But I said it in different words in my mind. I speak through my mind to Him.” Akiane started drawing at age four, working in pastels at age five, painting when she was six, and writing poetry at seven.
When Akiane was nine, Oprah Winfrey heard about the girl’s special talent and asked her to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Akiane’s fame took off, and after that she was invited to appear on many other television programs including Good Morning America and The Hour of Power. Akiane’s first completed self-portrait sold for $10,000, and since then her original paintings usually sell for amounts between $50,000 up to $1,000,000. She also makes limited edition canvas reproductions of her work which are available for about $2,000 each. As a result, Akiane is now one of the richest teens in America.
Akiane gives a substantial portion of her sales to various charities. For example, Akiane has donated thousands of dollars to: 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.”
View a gallery of Akiane’s paintings at www.akiane.com.
Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her Poetry is available at Amazon.