Anja’s Life

Anja Maki, Our Beautiful Loving Friend–A TRUE NEIGHBOR (Lev. 19:18 “…love thy neighbour as thyself.”)

Anja was born in Ylistaro, Finland in 1919.  Her family moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada when she was 8. Anja only spoke Finnish. At that time there were not any programs to help Finns learn English so she had to figure it out on her own which took determination.   Anja always was interested in art.  She and her sister, Salme took art lessons.  They walked three and a half miles to Lydia Hardgrave’s art studio (which was an artist’s paradise on two acres).  Their teacher studied in Paris, France and was excellent teacher. She charged fifty cents a lesson.

Years later Anja married a fine man of Finnish heritage. Their parents had been good friends for many years.  It was a wonderful and long lasting marriage.

In 1956 Anja was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her health deteriorated rapidly. She could only stand or walk by holding on to something for support.  She also had four young children depending on her every day.  Her only hope was prayer and she asked God for healing. Almost immediately a Miracle happened. She felt something white hugging her. No longer did she have to hold onto a chair or other object when standing or walking. When she went back to the Mayo Clinic they found no signs of MS. More than 50 years later she was still free of MS. The only thing noticeable was a slight limp, but that was a minor handicap. Since that blessed time she found that she was able to replenish her strength by sojourning to nature. When she went out to paint she always prayed first that she would be able to capture God’s beauty and that she could be a vessel to show God’s incredible creations and beauty through her art.  

Anja also painted in workshops and indoors, but it was by being outside that she could bring the beauty of this marvelous world into view. She painted for nearly 40 years with a dear friend, Janet Church. Together they had astonishing experiences. She once had an angry bull run after her. When she grabbed her canvas, the easel fell on top of the tray. That made a lot of noise! Thankfully the bull veered and ran between Janet and her. Whew!

Anja always encouraged others to paint. She believed that everyone had talent. If she talked to you for a while before you knew it you would have a paint brush or pencil in your hand.  It didn’t matter if you were scared and thought you had no talent, she would assure you that you did and you would be amazed that she was right.

As stated before, Anja preferred to paint on location. The ocean, desert, lakes, rivers, canyons, mountains-all wonderful things God created for us to appreciate and enjoy. A favorite instructor, Taro Yashima said “Paint What Smiles at You”

Anja moved to Southern Utah when she was 90. She was delighted to enjoy the challenge of the unique beauty she found there.
Through her art she wished to convey the magnificence of our natural world and what a beautiful gift it is for all of us.