About Anja

Biographical sketch of Anja Marjatta Maki

I was born in Ylistaro, Finland in 1919. I arrived at Sault Ste. Marie, Canada at the age of 8. My mother, Eeva Wainio Punkari, was fond of many kinds of art and encouraged me in painting.

My sister Salme and I walked three and a half miles to Lydia Hardgrave’s art studio, an artist’s paradise on two acres. My first teacher was born in England and had studied in Paris, France.  She was excellent and charged fifty cents a lesson.

               In 1956 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. My youngest child was an infant; the oldest eight. My condition deteriorated rapidly. Only by holding on to things could I stand or walk. I wanted to die, but with four wonderful kids depending on me, how could I desert them? My only hope was prayer and I asked God’s healing. Almost immediately a miracle happened: Something white hugged me. No longer did I have to hold onto a chair or other object when standing or walking. Now over fifty years later, I seem to be free of MS. I limp slightly, but that is a minor handicap.

Since that blessed time, I have observed that I can replenish my strength by sojourning to nature and attempting to capture it on canvas. I have painted in workshops and indoors, but it is by being outside that brings the beauty of this marvelous world into view.

               For nearly 40 years I painted with a dear friend, Janet Church. Together we had some astonishing experiences. We shared fields with snakes, various critters and vagrants. I once had an angry bull run at me. When I grabbed my canvas, the easel fell on topo on the tray. That made a lot of noise and thankfully the bull veered and ran between Janet and me.

Since Janet’s passing a few years ago, I have encouraged others to paint. I prefer to paint from subject matter on location, which includes the ocean, desert, lakes, rivers, canyons, mountains-all wonderful things God created for us to enjoy. Taro Yashima said: “Paint what smiles at you.”

               Many of the locations where I have painted are now covered with concrete or houses. Man is destroying Nature so fast: I am trying to record some of it on canvas. Now that I have relocated to Southern Utah, I am delighted to enjoy the challenge of this unique beauty. Through my art, I wish to convey the magnificence of our natural world and what a beautiful gift it is to you and me.