By Grace King
Annie Guldberg paints with her heart in the mountains and her feet firmly planted in the Midwest, blending vibrant dreams with an enchantment of the Rocky Mountains.
Born in Colorado and raised in Iowa, her paintings spring from an undeniable need to create, and a deep well of passion. She is inspired by her dreams of nature and a vision that can only be satisfied when putting paint to canvas.
The Southeast Iowa-based artist first realized her passion for art in high school. Art projects were deeply personal to her in a way they weren’t to her friends. She took it as a “sign from God” that her medium would become oil when her mother brought home a box of oil paints someone else had left on the curb.
“Finding oil paints was a big moment because that quickly became my die-hard favorite medium,” Guldberg said. “I haven’t been able to walk away from them since.”
Painting in oil adds texture and depth to Guldberg’s work in a way that other mediums do not. Her textures are achieved using only oil paints with her signature alla-prima technique – painting an entire piece at once – and showcasing the consistency of oil paints. In this way, she creates the structure she wants while feeding her fever to get an
Guldberg creates hopeful new worlds with her colors and shapes that appear both out of reach and very close. The viewer is connected to the painting’s poetic and ethereal beauty. From her studio in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Guldberg is influenced by dreams that are “shockingly real,” and often hold the solution to her paintings.
“With my heart in the mountains and feet firmly in the midwest, my paintings spring from a undeniable need to create and a deep well of emotions and passion. ”-Annie Guldberg
Not only was Guldberg supported in her pursuit of art by her parents, a high school teacher Mrs. Judy Peck encouraged her to work independently with Peck’s guidance on projects of her choice. With Peck’s help, Guldberg secured an art scholarship at Wisconsin Lutheran College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art in 2005.
Art was a hobby for Guldberg until the birth of her first son. Once she became a mother, she “felt a clawing to do more.” Afraid of losing herself in the tasks of motherhood, Guldberg threw herself into her work, developing a signature style that focuses on swirling paint, thick textures and vibrant colors. In her studio, Guldberg’s children, full of energetic creative energy, paint next to her.
“They love to paint in the art studio, and they have strong ideas about what they want to create – much like I do,” Guldberg said.
Collectors and admirers of Guldberg’s art say her work is filled with emotion and imagination. The thick swirls, waves and upward strokes in Guldberg’s pieces “pull you into the picture to enjoy the experience of what it portrays,” said Judy Schuelein, of Chandler, Arizona.
“Each piece pulls me in and makes me want to explore that world one brush stroke at a time,” said Sarah Garmoe, of Mount Pleasant. “I feel like each one has an untold story that makes my imagination overflow.”
Guldberg’s work has been shown in galleries throughout the Midwest. In 2019, Guldberg was selected as one of 36 artists across the U.S. to create a stripe depicting women’s suffrage for a project called Her Flag, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. She is a member of several art associations in Southeast Iowa, and a board member on Mount Pleasant Arts IMPACT – a community organization that aims to promote appreciation, support and growth of local artistic and cultural activities. She has commissioned public artwork for the Mount Pleasant Children’s Museum.
Guldberg draws inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh, whose textures she finds mesmerizing “almost to an overwhelming degree,” she said. “I can relate to his almost consuming vision of what he wanted to create, as well as his love for texture.”
When Guldberg is not painting, she is still creating. An avid crocheter, she makes amigurumi-style animals, scarves and blankets. She also spends time watching sci-fi movies with her husband from their VHS collection, and spending time outside with her two sons.
Guldberg’s mission as an artist is to depict an inner vision of colors, places and texture, and contribute to beauty already in the world. Guldberg spends as many hours as she can creating, and wants to inspire others to tap into their own creativity and the joy of making art.
“I am very devoted to the practice of creating,” Guldberg said. “I love sharing that with others and inspiring them to spend time creating.”
The starting point for my pieces is usually a real place- whether captured in a photograph or quick sketch- it is then infused with emotions, memories and feelings. These are portrayed by the thick, swirling textures, fields of vibrant colors, and simplified shapes. Written words, music, and poetry also deeply influence my process while creating. I often focus on a certain meaningful phrase that I feel is the core meaning of the piece in progress. I select colors from my limited palette- fine tuned over time to colors that work well together, yet also provide vibrant contrast to one another. This part of my process has evolved over the years to support my process of painting alla-prima, meaning I usually complete my paintings in one or two sittings while my work is completely wet. This allows me to sculpt and form my textures using only oil paints.
This process of completing paintings all in one sitting can be a challenge, requiring that I carve out large amounts of time to create. I have worked over the years, with the support from my family, to be dedicated to this practice and to be able to tune into my art and tune out the world around me. This allows me to get lost in my work as I paint, and that is what I hope to accomplish for the viewer as well. I want to share the beauty of what is seen, but specifically how that connects with our own memories and dreams. When we look back in our minds at a dream or memory, it is not flat- it is full of emotion. We feel the scene in our hearts as well as see it in our minds. That feeling is what I want to convey in my work, and I want it to be a world where the viewer can climb in and get lost for a while.