Soon after I learned to pick up a pencil, I discovered the joy of making art. By the time I was a teenager, I was obsessed with drawings horses. One day, while I was drawing, I slipped into a Zen-like state, and a fantastical animal-spirit, with a long elephant’s trunk and a bushy mop top head of hair, appeared and said, “I am your Anam Cara, your Soul Friend.”
I was mesmerized by the delightful being, and asked, “Would you mind if I drew your portrait?” “Mind?” he said, “It would be an honor.”
While studying illustration at California State University, Long Beach, I set out to illustrate a children’s alphabet book featuring my new friend, the Anam Cara. I painted him in the shape of a letter, using watercolor and ink. And then, one by one, twenty-five other Anam Caras appeared and posed for me.
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 touch the human heart. So I combined their mystical text with the new watercolors for a collection museum quality fine art prints.
When my friend Jade lost of her beloved horse, Casino, I wanted to create a memorial in the form of an Anam Caras print (because she loved them) with a comforting message. I carefully composed a few lines of prose and blessing for Jade and placed it under the watercolor of Casino’s Anam Cara and made a print.
Jade loved it. She wrote:
“You have me teary eyed. I must of read your beautiful message a dozen times.” Casino is giving you a "Spirit Nuzzle" of Love.”
I created similar prints for everyone I truly loved, and accepted commissions for custom artworks for variety of occasions: birthdays, weddings, showers, and holiday gifts.
The Anam Caras reminded me that my fine art prints brought tremendous joy to everyone who received a print as a gift or commissioned one for a loved one. They encouraged me to boldly launch an online store 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.