The Art Biz ep. 16: Overcoming a Major Setback: Annie Salness

Artist Annie Salness suffered a stroke almost 8 years ago. While many artists would have given up when faced with the trials Annie had, she met the challenge and kept moving forward.

Painting of vegetables by artist Annie Salness
©Annie Salness, Cucumber Salad. Acrylic on cradled panel, 12 x 12 inches. Used with permission.

It wasn’t the single challenge of learning to make art again with her non-dominant hand. Annie also had to relearn how to walk, speak, write, and drive. She’s one of the bravest and most determined people I know.

This is the story of a true artist – an artist who has something to say and is committed to making sure her voice is heard; her art seen.

In this interview, you will hear Annie talk about:

  • Her rehab and the determination to paint again – even without the use of her dominant hand.
  • The major obstacles she faces on a daily basis and how she overcomes them.
  • How she continually challenges herself (and why laughter is the best remedy to the frustration).
  • Her teaching and “watch me paint” sessions.
  • Why she wouldn’t want to return to her old self before the stroke.
©Annie Salness, work in progress.

It wasn’t easy for Annie to share her journey – many people in the same situation would have thought this process of being a guest on a podcast would be too taxing. But Annie celebrated it as yet another hurdle that would contribute to her recovery.

I hope you’re as inspired by Annie’s story as I have been over all these years. She is, without a doubt, one of my heroines.

Please enjoy listening to this conversation with Annie Salness.

Music: Keep It Simple by Wildermiss. Used with permission.
Listen to or subscribe on iTunes.

About My Guest

Annie Salness has a degree in biomedical illustration, but found her passion at the easel. A stroke in 2010 forced her to relearn how to walk, talk, write, and paint. It also led to a life full of challenges that she continues to be grateful for. She wouldn’t want to change a thing. She lives by a guiding word: Perseverance. Follow Annie on Instagram.

Annie Salness at work in her Portland studio. Photo courtesy the artist.

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45 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 16: Overcoming a Major Setback: Annie Salness”

  1. Dear Alyson
    What an wonderful interview!! Annie Salness is one of the most courageous women I have ever had the opportunity to hear about. On top of that her art is amazing!! I thank you for let us know about her experience and her relentless spirit. That fire in life that we all could learn from.

    I was recently diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gerigh’s). I understand her difficulties and identify with her daily need to overcome difficulties. She inspires me to keep doing the best I can as long as possible.

  2. Great interview! I, also, had two strokes three weeks apart in 2013. It affected the the non-dominant side. I had to learn everything over again. I was a missionary living overseas when it happened. Up until the strokes I knew how to draw with pencil, sketching since middle school. While the strokes affected my non-dominate side, a year after the strokes I was healing, but speech, memory, administrative-type skills (which I was really good at before the strokes) just weren’t progressing as fast as I was healing physically. The doctor told me at that time to learn something new, to help speed up the rehabilitation. I took up painting nature and wildlife in watercolor. It is amazing that I cannot do many of the things (mentally) I did before still today, but painting seems to come natural and has become a way to support myself. I strongly believe in art as rehabilitation in brain trauma related events! It’s wonderful. I am happy Annie persevered. I know from experience, it was not easy!

    1. Thank you, Joy. Alyson made the interview seem easy in her gracious approach.

  3. I appreciate this interview with Annie, she’s such an inspiration! I’ve had my own challenges as well with 2 NDEs from asthma so I understand the toll something dramatic like this can take on your psyche. Aside from a few memory glitches, fortunately I came back with all of my faculties intact. Perseverance IS key.. as is taking life one day at a time, not comparing oneself to others but to our own growth and doing the best we can with what we have. Many blessings to you Annie, I applaud you!

    1. Thank you, Toni! I too like the “non-comparing” part.
      (I wish I had learned that a little sooner…) 🙂

  4. THIS IS SOOOOO GOOD — forwarding it to everyone I know. Such soul, and wit — sobering to think what she’s had to deal with. Thanks, Alyson.

  5. Oh my goodness. What an inspiration she is!! Annie’s positive spirit and perseverance are amazing, and she is such a blessing to others — as she shares with them (us) on her journey.

  6. As a disabled artist myself, I don’t want to use the word “inspiring” because I know that can be triggering for people. But I find that this sort of spirit and tenacity to create what needs to be created, regardless of the circumstances, quite admirable. Thank you for sharing! Can’t wait to listen.

  7. Barbara J Myers

    Annie, I sat here in tears listening to this. Tears of sadness for what you went through, tears of pride for how you are facing this every single day, and tears of gratitude to be someone you call friend. You know I face life with a traumatic brain injury and listening to you inspires me to keep going with a spirit joy. Love you my friend.

  8. I am an artist and after years of teaching and mothering am trying to establish myself ith my art work. I find it tricky to promote and establish my work: you are an inspiration. i am happy to have found your website. All best wishes. beautiful work

    1. Thanks for asking. I have multiple sclerosis. Here is how I explained a Duct Tape Day in my memoir Life Continues: “It’s feeling like you have been hit by 50 trucks and somehow you survive. It hurts to blink your eyes. The very thought of moving a millimeter of any body part requires energy you do not have. Lying down and breathing are the most strenuous activities you can handle. Your get-up-and-go truly got up, went, and waved good-bye. When fatigue hits me … like a marionette, I long for someone else to move my legs and my arms because doing so would require the oomph I do not have. My only hope of keeping myself together seems to be duct tape.”

      Your podcast with Annie was poignant in many ways. It is evident that Vitamin L(aughter) is a vital balm and boost to Annie. Everybody has, used to have, or will have, some physical and/or emotional challenge in their lifetime. Whether you’re a patient, caregiver, child, parent, friend, spouse, or significant somebody dealing with pain, loss, or a problem concerning your health, job, or family–we need ways to cope. Annie proves laughing often and focusing on what you can do, rather than what you cannot, can help you persevere and thrive.

    2. Carmen, Thank you for sharing that with us. I agree with you whole-heartedly that, “Everybody has, used to have, or will have, some physical and/or emotional challenge in their lifetime. ” !!! Thank you!

    3. Hi, Annie:

      You embody one of my favorite quotes:
      “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

      Waving and wishing you continued success …

  9. Annie, your courage and indomitable spirit are such an inspiration, and your artwork is wonderful. Alyson, thank you for your caring interview. You both are amazing women.

  10. This is such a wonderful interview and Annie, you are an incredible inspiration. You mentioned that you sometimes see how much other artists are accomplishing on social media and feel that you are not able to do as much, but looking at your website and the quality of your work you will inspire envy in other artists and they will feel like slackers. There is not a shred of “less than” in anything you do.

  11. What a great interview! Annie, you are such an inspiration not only as an artist but as someone who meets life’s challenges head on with a positive outlook. Everyone can learn so much from you. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to know you and learn from you. Thanks for doing the interview.

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