Hi, I’m Colleen Stratton, and I’d like to introduce you to my Soul Friends, the Anam Caras. In the Irish tradition, Anam means Soul and Caras is friends. Anam Caras are magical spirits from the Land of Soul with an important mission, world peace, and message “Peace begins in your heart.”
I take it a step further: I believe, peace begins in the home. Enhancing your environment enhances your life. A home is a sanctuary, filled with beauty and inspiration, a tranquil setting where the soul thrives.
I lovingly created a series of watercolor portraits of the Anam Caras and paired them with their inspirational blessings.
Here’s the story about how I met the Anam Caras and created this art:
Soon after I learned to pick up a pencil, I discovered the joy of making art.
When I was a teenager, I had slipped into a Zen-like state while I was drawing, and a lovable spirit, who later referred to himself as my Anam Cara, visited me and asked me to draw his portrait. He left me with a sense that he was with me, always, invisible, but present in spirit, loving and supporting me, so my “Soul Friend” became my favorite subject.
While studying illustration at California State University, Long Beach, I was required to design a children’s alphabet book, so, I painted my Anam Cara in the shape of a letter, in watercolor. Over the course of the semester, my Anam Cara invited twenty-five other Anam Caras to pose for me.
After college, I grew more and more unhappy with some of watercolors of the Anam Caras, because I hadn’t captured their true beauty. Watercolor is a maddening medium: mistakes cannot be painted over the way they can in oils or acrylic, so I started over, and repainted most, if not all, of the watercolors in the series as many as ten times.
My Soul Friends were so delighted with the result they bestowed upon me a collection of magical Anam Cara blessings that carried the power to heal the human heart. I then combined their mystical text with the new watercolors for a book I titled: Anamabet: The Anam Caras Alphabet of Blessings, and set out to find a publisher.
Even though everyone loved the Anam Caras book, friends, strangers, young and old alike, publishers weren’t interested. It was accused of being a children’s book for adults. Alphabet books were considered high-risk, due to their over-abundance in the market place. Self-publishing was too expensive. I was worried I couldn’t fulfill my promise to the Anam Caras, to share their message of love with the world.
“Dreams are the seedlings of reality,” my Soul Friends proclaimed. “The manifestation of a dream often occurs in ways human rarely imagined.” They reminded me that the fine art prints of my Anam Caras watercolors brought tremendous joy to everyone who received a print as a gift or commissioned one for a loved one.
The Anam Caras had faith. They predicted that kind-hearted people in search of mindfulness, inspiration, and comfort for troubled human hearts, would be inexplicably drawn to my art, and receive inspiration from their blessings. They encouraged me to boldly launch an online store to offer Anam Caras fine art prints powered by love!
"Colleen Stratton’s artwork perfectly captures the peaceful spirit of the Anam Caras. The graceful watercolor illustrations portraying the letters of the alphabet, each accompanied by a positive message, display a personality and attitude all their own. The gentle line work and pastel colors evoke children’s illustration of years past, yet the drawings feel fresh and alive."
~ Frans Vischer, author and illustrator of Fuddles, A Very
Fuddles Christmas, and Jimmy Dabble
Early Anam Caras drawings.