There comes a point in everyone’s life – sometimes various times within our journey – when we crave more. Ana Sneeringer, like so many of us, initially experienced a below-the-surface percolation. An intermittent nagging. What began as a contemplation of what, why, and how increasingly amplified until it made far too much of a spiritual racket for her to ignore.
Ana’s body screamed out in silent protestation, “Is this IT? Really? You KNOW that you can do better! You need more…actually…we deserve far more fulfillment!” Her soul was certainly a sage internal compass, prompting Ana to think about…
“Wa- wait-wait a second, Ana Sneeringer. Seriously? Are you thinking AGAIN??? Time for you to trust your gut for a change, okay? No more weighing the pros and cons. Forget about the what ifs. Let’s just get this show on the road, once and for all. It’s dream manifestation time. By the way, I’ve taken the liberty of deleting the word CAN’T from our vocabulary, because nothing will ever deter us again.” Sure, Ana’s gut was bossy, but sometimes a little tough love is crucial for real-world action.
Why does a creative spirit such as Ana Sneeringer answer the call of the paintbrush? She finally decided to take a leap of faith and believe. There is no point in channeling precious energy on self-sabotaging “not good enough” thoughts. Instead, she set her sites on designing the creative life that she wanted and needed to live. Ana’s journey, she decided, must not be compromised by self-doubt. We’re only on this planet for a relatively short period of time and there is much to be done. As a result, Ana’s boisterous, kaleidoscopic pop art portraiture is emblematic of her journey of personal exploration and of finding the pulse of a life well-lived. The very life of life, in fact.
Perhaps I was just in the period of my life where I needed to be. I was getting ready to bubble like a pot of boiling water.
The career trajectory of some creative individuals tends to mirror the meandering trail of a ladybug. Sometimes we have to try several professions in order to identify the path that we were truly meant to take. In your case, you ran an environmental television station in Slovenia for many years before pivoting into art. How did you know that becoming a painter was the road that you were meant to take?
At the beginning, I didn’t. Then, I moved to India and decided – through a natural and intentional process – that art would be my profession. I recall abstractly painting my feelings on a canvas and placing that piece of art against a wall in my house. I was relatively new to that style of painting. By chance, a collector stopped by for a meeting, fell in love with that piece, and bought it. I literally sold it for a cup of coffee! But it sparked something within me. Roughly three years ago, I said, “Ok, now this is what I want to do in my life.”
There are many people who say they have a goal, but due to a lack of motivation or follow-through, it never goes any further. I don’t want to be that person. So, when I say I’m going to achieve something, I do it.
Has creativity always been an integral part of your life, or did you reconnect with it as an adult?
I believe that all of us are creative throughout our lives. Exercising one’s creativity beyond childhood depends on each person. In my case, I always created some type of art until I hit my teenage years. Once I turned 30, art and creativity came back into my life. My current art exploration – which is occasionally touchy (emotionally) – required a long period of incubation.
Is there a particular aspect of the creative process that delivers maximum feel-good endorphins to your brain? Or do you simply just love it from start to finish?
Absolutely. I love creating art while listening to music. Vocalists who sound like they’ve smoked too many cigarettes and have pipes that resonate like sandpaper are among my favorite. I need the endorphins of a great rock dance-pop beat flooding my brain with lyrics preaching about the power of one.
That great musical vibe is how my hand instinctually knows how to manifest my female portraits. Apart from that, I love using an almost dry brush while shading my muse’s cheeks, eyes, and neck. Those rough brushstrokes represent the toughness of their spirits.
There are obvious pros and cons to being a self-taught artist. In what ways has creative liberation benefitted your artistic practice?
Being thrown into a task that you don’t know how to accomplish is actually beneficial. If you receive no guidance, you keep going and you figure out how to do it. Self-realization is key. Sometimes I compare my art practice to my experience as a mother to my two daughters. I didn’t know how to parent. My mom did not live close enough to offer me guidance. As a result, I figured it out on my own and became an imperfectly perfect parent.
Has the freedom to render portraits in whatever way that you desire ever been a detriment?
Never. I thoroughly enjoy creative liberation and would feel trapped if I wasn’t able to have the freedom to express myself in my own unique way.
I really like exploring the way that the eyes can speak to the viewer on a much deeper level. That stare can often invite the beholder to face their “fears” and dare to be true to themselves.
At what point in your artistic practice did your signature muse make her presence known?
For five years, I cultivated my art practice on an almost daily basis. I finally realized that I am meant to paint women. Not just my own image. I am called to paint the countless other ladies who I don’t personally know. I also have a feeling of energy that soaks into my brain and emerges in the shape of a muse.
You don’t regurgitate the same exact muse in your body of work. Nonetheless, your ladies share a few signature traits. Is the confidence, strength, and unapologetic demeanor of your many muses a reflection of the person you are today?
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a muse (which seems narcissist), but I do find a lot of inspiration within my own thoughts and feelings. I’ve always been very hardheaded, regardless of my age. I have lived many “lives” of transformation through the many cultures I’ve experienced. For the most part, however, I’ve stayed true to myself. I have pursued a great deal of self-exploration now that I have entered middle age. My personal revelations are likely reflected in my artistic representation of my muses.
My daughters are certainly in synch with the spirit of my muses!
Even though your exotic beauties are glamourous, they are off-beat. The fact that they seem a little quirky actually humanizes them. Despite fulfilling an ideal standard of beauty, it seems like quite a few of them would strike up a conversation with us at the dentist’s office. Was your intent to always make them seem approachable, or was it a happy surprise that emerged organically through the painting process?
Yes, always. I want the viewer to experience a connection to my work. Sometimes, gazes can seem intimidating or even overwhelming. I really like exploring the way that the eyes can speak to the viewer on a much deeper level. That stare can often invite the beholder to face their “fears” and dare to be true to themselves.
A boldly pigmented circle eclipses either the right or left cheek of your many muses. Would you please shine light on how that visual device manifested?
The most important reason is that a circle is emblematic of unity, full closure, and internal wholeness. In order to succeed in life – be happy, be a better person etc. – one must look within. One cannot wait for someone else to rescue them or do all of the work for them. We can accomplish everything ourselves, but we must choose to take action.
There is a secondary reason why my muses wear a circle on their cheeks. I have a pretty noticeable birthmark on my face. Sometimes, I don’t feel like explaining the meaning of my painted circle to people who aren’t really interested in my art. In those cases, I tell them it’s my artistic trademark modeled after my own birthmark!
For me, art is definitely a daily practice that enables me to truly be me.
Your spirited aesthetic could be easily adapted to male muses, kittens, or myriad other objects. In fact, when you participated in 100 Days of Art, you branched out into more diverse subject matter. Did traveling beyond the feminine realm whet your appetite for more thematic experimentation?
I accepted that challenge just to see if I would be inspired to move away from portraits. It can be extremely stressful to draw or paint subjects that aren’t in one’s comfort zone. I like to throw myself outside of my comfort zones a lot. For now, though, I haven’t yet decided if I will pursue a different artistic direction.
Anyone who follows you on social media knows that your paintings always come with a little something extra. Sharing soul-elevating messages and thought-provoking commentary is part of your artistic fingerprint. Is this a natural extension of your core personality, or has being an artist endowed you with a greater desire to give more of yourself to others?
Unquestionably. What really became more elevated within me was realizing that I have to overcome a fear of speaking my inner truth. I am not extremely well versed in what various zodiac signs signify. From what I’ve gleaned in classical writings, though, it is my nature is to be a very closed person who nonetheless has a strong will to succeed. Figuring out how to bring those two aspects of my nature to life is yet another creative part of my job :)
It seems as though you are on a personal quest to become one who does rather than one who dreams. Are you far more unstoppable in the fulfillment of your personal goals because you are living the life of an artist? Or were you like that in your former life, too?
When I entered the professional world, I focused on achieving the goals I set out to accomplish. I have been exposed to many people and global cultures. There is one thing that I have consistently observed that has made me become one who does. There are many people who say they have a goal but due to a lack of motivation or follow-through, it never goes any further. I don’t want to be that person. So, when I say I’m going to achieve something, I do it.
I thoroughly enjoy creative liberation and would feel trapped if I wasn’t able to have the freedom to express myself in my own unique way.
Has your artistic career raised your vibrational energy more so than working in environmental television?
Practicing art absolutely has. I learned that the environmental television industry wasn’t the hippy thing I imagined it would be. In fact, it was surprisingly political. Even though I did step away from my environmental profession, I still deeply care about the cause. My husband and I founded a nonprofit organization in the USA that educates people about sustainability and self-sufficiency. Our Okanogan Highlands Lavender Farm is off-grid and solely operates on wind and sun power.
Caring enough to educate TV viewers about greener lifestyle choices requires heart as well as the desire to make the world a better place. Have you carried any of your eco-sensibilities over into your art career?
I would love to, however, it has been very difficult. I have lived in various different countries, some of which barely grasp the concept of being eco-friendly. These days, I am working toward being more eco-friendly, but finding good quality materials that are green has been challenging.
Do you have an art-all-day mentality, or do you ever need to break away from it? How do you recharge your creativity?
Sometimes I push myself to practice my craft, but that is the exception rather than the rule. For me, art is definitely a daily practice that enables me to truly be me.
I need the endorphins of a great rock dance-pop beat flooding my brain, with lyrics preaching about the power of one. That great musical vibe is how my hand instinctually knows how to manifest my female portraits
The vast majority of your muses seem to be the canvas embodiment of the phrase “carpe diem”. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Hahaha, I love your perspective of them! Yes, my muses definitely make the most of life but for many other viewers, they see them quite differently. Ultimately, we only have one life, so we should live it on our own terms.
You never render the nude figure. Does being a mother to two young girls have anything to do with that choice, or was there another motivating factor?
I am not sure about nudes. I like seeing the figurative efforts of other artists, but I have to first become more comfortable rendering the human form. Maybe that will be one of my artistic explorations in the future.
What do your young daughters think of your work? Do they ever try to emulate what you do? Have they adopted the empowered spirit of your muses?
My daughters love my art and are enthusiastic about being a part of the creation process. Indeed, on occasion, my older daughter has offered her artistic critiques. She is not fond of me overpainting my old work. Presently, my daughters aren’t creating artwork that emulates the look of my muses. I have noticed, however, that they do integrate some of the color schemes I’ve used within their own creations. It’s comforting and loving at the same time. They are, undoubtedly, my greatest supporters. And yes, my daughters are certainly in sync with the spirit of my muses!
I love using an almost dry brush while shading my muse’s cheeks, eyes, and neck. Those rough brushstrokes represent the toughness of my muses’ spirits.
Where do you find the time – let alone the energy – to be so incredibly prolific?
Since I am doing what I love, I simply just do it. I feel the urge to speak my mind and am visually vocal through my art.
Have the various emotional challenges triggered by the pandemic caused you to take even greater solace in art? Has your creativity suffered in any way?
This pandemic has definitely caused a personal and artistic expansion within me. I developed a series connected to food called Guilt Trip, which really resonated with me and a few of my collectors. One of the lowest vibrations experienced by humans is guilt. We subject ourselves to that feeling when we believe that our actions are self-serving rather than in service to others. That is often coupled with the satisfaction of having enjoyed the action that aroused the guilt, itself. Eating pancakes in the middle of the night is a good example.
My Guilt Trip series explores the benefits of opening our hearts up to and fully accepting all aspects of ourselves. Each of my paintings – or guilt trips – are an invitation to raise this low energy to a higher vibration.
Which is bolder and more vibrant? The capital of southern India’s Telangana state, Hyderabad – where you currently live – or the aesthetic of your paintings?
My art is bolder in expression, but the daily vibrance of India’s culture is certainly bolder.
The gatekeepers of Telangana’s art world rejected your paintings for failing to represent Indian culture. You recently wrapped up your first solo show in Hyderabad, though, which is a tremendous coup. Furthermore, you didn’t alter your artistic signature to reach this career milestone! How did all of that come to pass?
While my art received a positive response, I tried to show my art in Hyderabad for two years without success. I was concerned that people just didn’t like it. Perhaps I was just in the period of my life where I needed to be. I was getting ready to bubble like a pot of boiling water. Finally, I met wonderful people who offered their space for my bold, painted ladies. My February 2021 solo show ended up being very successful!
I like to throw myself outside of my comfort zones a lot.
Do you ever worry that you’ve unwittingly painted yourself in a corner by establishing such a recognizable and consistent aesthetic? What if you wake up one day and crave radical change in your artistic approach?
No, I don’t worry. If I wake up one day wanting to paint flowers, I guess I’ll do that. Or if I choose to do something else in life, I might just do it. I am a very intuitive person – I let opportunities manifest organically.
In 5 years, do you anticipate still feeling creatively fulfilled with your female-centric subject matter?
Yes, I hope so because I do have a lot more stories to tell. I am certainly curious what my ladies will look like 5 years from now!
If you accepted a full scholarship to the art school of your choice, what would you do with all of your newly acquired skills and techniques? Are there any creative disciplines that you would happily shift over to if you just had the foundational training?
I would dive into sculpting because that form of artistic expression fascinates me.
Considering all of the experiences that you’ve had in your art career thus far, what bit of advice would you give to the newbie artist you once were? Is there one pearl of wisdom you know today that could have helped you back then?
Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?! And don’t forget to put yourself and your work in front of everybody. People like to connect with cool people who have stories to tell.