Noticing. Remembering.

Recently I was at a birthday party for an old friend, and despite being in a noisy restaurant, there was a part of the conversation that stuck with me afterwards.

The woman I was talking to asked what I did for a living. So, of course, I launched into a description of Intentional Creativity and sumi-e painting and earth prayers. I dug out my ever-present sketchbook from my purse and shared my little paintings with her. She loved what she saw and she shared an insight with me.

It is when we notice something that we remember it.

This connection between noticing and remembering planted itself in my brain and I’ve been musing on it ever since. I’ve been noticing what I notice, or at least, I’m trying to do so since it’s sort of a circular behavior.

Creating an earth prayer is about asking what wants to  be drawn, listening to what the earth tells me, and allowing all that to flow through my eyes, heart and hand through the pen and onto the paper.

Noticing is a big part of that. And amusingly, I didn’t realize how much of what I do is noticing. Admittedly, it’s a slightly different way of viewing what I do. When I’m teaching, I usually ask students to be present, right here, right now. But really, I’m also asking them to notice what is around them, to notice the wild flowers blooming under their feet, wild rock formations, or geese flying overhead.

That’s when I realized my earth prayer paintings are remembrances of things that I’ve noticed. An old crinkled leaf, a tiny white shell with lines and whorls, a cat sleeping akimbo. And when I look back at them, I remember where I was on the earth when I painted it.

For me, the beauty of this earth is inherent in the earth itself and doesn’t need any alteration or improvement or to be made into a work of art. It already is what it needs to be.

Our role is to notice that magnificence in all it’s exquisite glory. To honor and cherish it. Because it’s the act of doing so that changes our relationship to the earth.

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Earth Prayers

Intentional Sumi-e Painting
Doors open March 19th

Deepen your connection to the earth with my upcoming online class! 6 weeks of Inquiry and Demo and working directly with me. Doors open March 19th. All the details are HERE.

COST: $147 (early registration $97)
Sign up for my mailing list to get the news on when early registration opens!


Greeting Cards!

Sticky Monkey wild flowers and mysterious beings have come to rest in my studio over the last several months. There are new sets of greeting cards and all your favorites. And more to come as the holidays approach.

This painting of Sticky Monkey Ears is from Foothill Park, near Palo Alto, California.

Come on over and take a look!




There are new things percolating and updates coming to galleries and such so please check back often!


 As well as being an artist, I am also an Intentional Creativity Teacher. I teach private lessons as well as one-on-one creativity coaching sessions. Interested? Send me an email – I’d love to hear from you! Remember to sign up for my newsletter for news on shows and classes!
~ Annette,


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Autumn News!

 It’s been quite an eventful fall already, hasn’t it?

Our latest adventure was to the wilds of southern Utah, northern Arizona in the Verm

illion Cliffs area, and eastern Nevada. We roamed among red rock and white rock formations that felt like alien landscapes. Did loads of slogging through red sand and had bats visiting our camp in the evening.

I was very grateful to just be in the desert as I didn’t know if I could go until the last few days before we left. The truck was packed to the gills with two photographers, all their gear and a week of camping gear and food. Perhaps that’s why one of my hiking boots decided to take a long rest along the way and still hasn’t returned?

Then we came home to wildfires and worry and smoke in the air. I had to pack up again and head to the coast to find air I could breathe. A reminder of the precious nature of our planet and of what we too often take for granted. Grateful that those dear to me survived intact in this craziness.

And now onto the news! On the first weekend of December, I will be sharing a booth with Betsy Fessler at the 30th Annual Holiday Craft Faire atFremont High School (1279 Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94087.).

Betsy makes the most amazing lamps and other treasures from found objects – they are really cool! I am bringing my new collection of embellished boxes (that’s the Flower Box on the photo – inside is a six pack of dried rose buds), earrings, and of course, Earth

Prayers – original sumi-e and watercolors as well as greeting cards.

The hours for the Holiday Faire are Saturday December 2nd, 10am-5pm  and Sunday December 3rd from 10am to 3:30pm. I look forward to seeing your smiling face there!

I am also working on an online class that is all about teaching folks how to create their own Earth Prayers. Look for that in the new year!

Last, I have two paintings in the Harvest Festival Show up at the ANEW Gallery in San Francisco: Lady of the Ocean, Singing and Black Madonna, Love at the Center.

Yours in red thread and creativity,

P.S. I donate a portion of my profits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Sierra Club. My way of helping to insure our planet gets the support she needs.

Photograph Above: Intersections & Connections, Coyote Butte South, Arizona. ©2017 Annette Wagner. Prints available for sale. 

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Fear is the mind killer?

Boat of Sorrows; Boat of Hope by Annette Wagner

“Fear is the mind killer.”

That quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune has always stuck in my mind. I’ve niggled at it wondering why it’s stuck around as long as it has and realized it’s because of the truth contained in the idea it represents.

Fear does shut down our mind and, for me, the worst part is that it also closes the door to our heart – and that’s why this quote has stuck in my mind. When the heart connection breaks, love stops flowing through our minds and hearts and that causes all kinds of havoc to erupt in our lives.

What made me unravel this story was a little incident that happened the other day and yet it was huge in how it changed the context of how I understand fear in my life.

My man was out in the garage organizing; a necessary feat as we are now living in a much smaller house than we really fit into. He was installing overhead metal shelves to create a place for luggage and sleeping bags and such so there would be more room on the lower shelves in the garage.

I was out there organizing wrapping paper supplies, looking up at these shelves and what he was putting up there – and that is when, unknowing to me, fear snuck into my mind.

I voiced my concern about it being hard for me to get things down from up there when I needed them and the conversation derailed into an exchange about yes I would need help and how else were we going to find space to store everything if he didn’t do this and resulted in him being annoyed and frustrated with me. I left the garage feeling hurt and confused.

This is when my muse stepped in and started prodding me. Why did I react as I did? I knew he was going to put up those shelves. I knew those items were going up there. There are plenty of step ladders in the garage for me to use. Then it hit me.

I had spoken from a place of fear.

Why? Was it because I have a whacky back and can’t lift anything heavy? No. My physical limitation are an issue, however my sense was that wasn’t where the fear came from. I dug deeper. So where did the fear come from?

I had looked at those shelves and the things on them and suddenly I was back in a world in which I was alone. In which I had only myself to depend on and no one else. A world which had more constraints and less love because there was no one else to share it with. A world that did not include the blessings I have now in my life. It was a world of what if and doubt and distrust.

I was shocked. All it needed was one little glimpse of fear to bring in all of that? Ick.

Now I know why my muse kept prodding me into unraveling this story. Understanding how the fear can close down my mind and shut off my heart, explains so much about how I reacted. Doesn’t mean I am going to be suddenly perfect and never react from a place of fear again.

But maybe, just maybe, it means I will do it a whole lot less as I write my own new story about fear and it’s place in my life. About the doorway to my heart is resistant to fear closing it. How it sounds alarms when fear tries to do that. How I am more and more aware when fear tries to sneak in to derail conversations. And most of all, because love is at the center of my choices and I choose love.

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Today I Turn 60

So I asked myself, what does 60 feel like?

Is it about having a full head of wildly curly gray hair with brilliant magenta patches?
Still looking great in leggings and tank tops?
Feeling more healthy than I have at several other points in my life?
Is it about dancing with my Elle to the tune of some crazy song?
Laughing with my Cass when he sneaks in one of those teasing pranks on me?


Someone send me a birthday card joking about being Sexy and Sixty. It captured where I am in life perfectly. I am a damn sexy 60 year old woman. Never thought I would say that but there it is.

I want all of you women out there reading this to know: the thing making you outrageous and sexy at 60 is loving yourself for all that you are – and living into that. It took me years to understand that. And when I did, my life turned outrageously fun and love filled it.  

I’ve had the opportunity to do lots of wonderful and wild things in my life from driving my little Porsche on a race track to painting in Monet’s gardens to being the second person in the world to create computer icons. I have 21 patents to my name and am the one who created the graphic known affectionately as Moof. I helped produce a comic book about the Java mascot Duke and lived through conversations with Steve Jobs.

I’ve hit walls creatively and walked away from failed relationships and build houses on hills only to drive away from them one day. Made lots of mistakes and there are things I regret saying to people. I walked away from hi-tech and became the artist I always wanted to be. I’ve spent days on mountains doing vision quests and days on mountains painting and drawing.

My life has been a tapestry of change and movement and creation. I never know where my path will lead me and these days that’s just the way I like it. I didn’t always, but somewhere along the way I realized it was best to just let go of having grand plans because my life was about walking my path, not forcing things to go however I might think they needed to go. Choosing to follow my heart’s desire was the best choice I ever made.

I plan to have lots more adventures visiting deserts, creating paintings, laughing at pranks, flirting with the man of my heart and raising my amazing daughter.

If this is what 60 feels like than I’m keeping it.



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TAO of Painting: A ZEN Creativity Retreat on the Mountain

This September I am teaching the TAO of Painting about walking in nature, sharing my practice of creating earth prayers, and learning how to do sumi-e and watercolor in the wild. When I first talked to Shiloh Sophia about doing this class we both knew this class would include some of the teachings passed down to us from Sue Hoya Sellars.

Sue was an American master painter trained by Lenore Straus Thomas, a stone sculptor and artist from the 1930s and 40s. Sue was my painting teacher and the one who first taught me sumi-e. She was also Shiloh’s second mother and the one who inspired her to found the Intentional Creativity movement. A powerful woman in her own right, Sue never shied away from tough work whether it was personal or creative.

Sue sketching on the Seine River in Paris, 2014
Sue sketching on the Seine River in Paris, 2014

I’ll always remember the day she sat me down in front of a good sized moon shell, mixed up some ink with a stone, put a sumi-e brush in my hand, adjusted my fingers, and said, ‘write what you see‘. I was just a bit intimidated and yet also very drawn to what she was asking of me. And so my creative practice began.

Sue told me when I left, to go home and do sumi-e for 30 minutes every day. That a huge challenge that evolved and shifted as it came into form. Today I carry a notebook with me everywhere along with a sumi-e pocket brush pen. More art supplies when I am on the road or the trail. And almost every single day, I pick that notebook and create.

When I visited Sue up on her land, Terra Sophia, we always walked on the land. When she joined us in a workshop or class, we went out to the river  or somewhere nearby and walked in nature. She would point out the vines and patterns and leaves and dapples and we would sketch and draw, learning how to write what we saw.

This class I am teaching will be up on her land, on those same hills we walked on. We will read from the TAO of painting books Sue told us to learn from and share those teachings with you. We will walk in nature and sit on the lands and “write what we see” connecting to the ch’i of the earth as we draw and sketch. Shiloh will join us to share some of what Sue shared with her. We will see Sue’s house and the paintings still there. We will watch the sunset and listen to the bees and the wind and the ravens – and create.

Hole in tree, something lived there, now its open for new life, by Annette Wagner, 2013, Terra Sophia Sanctuary
Hole in tree, something lived there, now its open for new life, by Annette Wagner, 2013, Terra Sophia

You will learn the practice of sumi-e in a style allowing you to take it with you anywhere complete with the necessary materials. This practice teaches you a new relationship with your brush as well as the world around you. And all of that translates in wonderful ways back into the way you paint and teach your own work. Lineage and legacy moving forward and out into the world.

Come join us for one or two days. If you stay for both days, consider camping with us on the land. A slumber party under the stars! September is a glorious month to be on the land.  If you are not up for rustic, there is also lots of lovely options for lodging in the Anderson Valley. Terra Sophia is near Philo, CA.


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Untamed Heart: An Exploration of Intentional Creativity

Whoo hoo! I am happy to announce this wonderful new book and collaboration of Intentional Creativity teachers, of which I am both an editor and a contributor: Untamed Heart.

Its been a long time in preparation which makes it even more sweet to share it with you all. The book is available as a soft cover book on Blurb, OR you can order the PDF ($5.99) directly from me by clicking the button below.

$5.99 for your very own PDF of the book. 55 pages of full color and creative exercises.


Authors: Sofia Dabalsa, Shiloh Sophia, Annette Wagner

Untamed Heart introduces the concept of Intentional Creativity®; a movement in which all creative acts begin with intention. Intentional Creativity is about transforming old stories into new stories that fill us with passion and joy. It is the collaborative product of fifteen Intentional Creativity Teachers including the founder of the Intentional Creativity movement, Shiloh Sophia. Each teacher shares their own story and a practice or exercise for the reader to work with as a way of exploring the realm of Intentional Creativity for themselves.

All proceeds go towards the creation of the book. Let’s support women artists in print!

Authors include Sofia Dalbasa, Annette Wagner, Jessica Bowman, Sumaiyah Dymonz Yates, Kate Langlois, Susan Rossi, Jacqueline Hiew, Mai-Lan Thi Pham, Havi Brysk Mandell, Jennifer Mayol, Wendy Ward, Gurukiren Khalsa, Kendall Sarah Scott, Olyvya (Foussier) Van Eeden and Shiloh Sophia.

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Solstice Blessings, Wedding Blessings

Happy Solstice!

Solstice is the day when many traditions honor the return of the light. The day when the energy shifts from dark to light – when the gestation of the dark days begin to head towards fruition, to flowering. The day when the hint of sweet spring begins to push its tiny tendrils into my heart beginning the process of lightening, of growing, of opening.

As the energy shifts on Solstice, I begin musing about my intention for the new year. I allow the energy of Solstice and wonder and love to infuse my heart like the elements of a good stew in the making. I know there is plenty of time to savor and stir and allow my intention to come into being. I can smell it forming as the flavors come together. I invite you to ask with me:

What am I leaving behind in the dark, in the earth, to compost?
What seeds have I planted that want to be nurtured into the light?
What are I putting into my stew of intention?

This year I have much to ponder and wonder and muse about. My mother walked on through the veil. My daughter with her challenges around anxiety. And, the shift in my relationship with the man of my heart.

We married each other in a niche on the beach at low tide on December 11th. I walked out to Grandmother Ocean to ask permission and say hello. An altar was setup. We stood in circle to begin, then took off the red thread around our wrists, read the vows we each wrote out loud to the spirits of the four directions, the vows of our heart. We exchanged many kisses and rings and more red thread. Many rose petals were tossed into the waves for Grandmother Ocean. Then we had a feast with the two friends who had come with us to officiate and witness. And a circle to close our ceremony.

It is a big shift and yet, not such a big shift. I am getting used to the idea that I can call my man my husband. And to wearing a ring. And to remembering to take off the ring when I head into the studio so I don’t cover it in paint and other things!


I leave behind the responsibility of caring for my mom through her illness which though I shared with others still was always on my mind. In its place, I have the memories of who she was in her life. 

I leave behind the expectations around having a typical teenage high school kid and instead embrace the creative eccentric wild creature who is my daughter. 

I put love squarely into my stew of intention along with the joy of marrying my man and being in relationship with him. 

May your days be filled with blessings,


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Am I Still Holding My Piece of the Red Thread?

Alien Skin Rock

An alien skin over your own
Hiding you from the world
Keeping your secrets safe
To walk in your own skin
Let your heart sing
Be you, only you
And you will loved.

I’ve not written for a while because life took me off on another tangent. One that felt like I was being derailed, distracted, and pulled away from my work, my piece of the red thread.

My wonderful, beautiful, creative daughter had a very rocky start to high school. Anxiety. Stress headaches. Tears. Anger. Overwhelm. It took weeks to figure out what was going on. It’s been very hard for her and very hard for me. To watch someone I love who has all this potential and brilliance flounder and sink into a miasma where she is entirely stalled out in her life….it rips up my heart big time.

I’ve run through the gamut of mom guilt trips: feeling hugely responsible, frustrated because I can’t just fix it, annoyed at the way it derailed her, wondering how I contributed, wondering how I missed this pattern in her all these years, feeling helpless, annoyed at how western medical just wants to hand a 14 year old drugs, annoyed at her father for his genetic contribution. You name it, I’ve been walking it.

All through this, I asked, What is wanted? I wanted an intention to guide my energy and my heart. I had a trip planned to Idaho and Montana for a week in the midst of this and I went because I needed the break, to step away for a bit. And so, there on the side of a river one day, my intention emerged:

To support my daughter in learning how and moving through transformation.

If you’ve read my blog you know that I know this transformation stuff. Its what I teach and what I paint. I’ve been through major change in my own life. But my hesitation, and I did have one, about engaging in what I teach with my child was because I felt I was too close. Yet spirit made it clear that this was what I was to do. Relief and clarity are mine – I’ve felt like I now have a light shining on my path forward.

I came home and went to work supporting her, talking to her therapist, putting routine and boundaries in place, and generally just being there with her to laugh and cry and keep taking one step after the other. I have not worked on my art updating my site or finishing watercolors and greeting cards or creating videos for online classes or any of the other projects I have on my list to get done. Part of me has been beating myself up about that. Feeling like I am not doing my work.

So what do those of us who work in the Intentional Creativity movement do when we feel like this? We ask. And so, I asked,

Am I still holding my piece of the red thread?


The answer surprised me but perhaps will not surprise you. The answer included letting me know that doing all that work to get my art out into the world is important – but it has its own time and path. And right now I AM doing my work. I AM holding my piece of the red thread. 

Being there with my daughter as she walks this path IS doing MY work in the world right now in this present moment. Its about loving my daughter in all the ways she needs so she has the opportunity to heal herself so she can live her life fully and with love and happiness. Tears as I write this…

I needed to hear this. I needed to recalibrate myself with my own inner purpose, with my own piece of the red thread. Recalibration comes in many ways and I am grateful whether it comes with rocks or rose petals strewn down my path so long as I know which direction to walk in. 

Rocks from Glacier Flathead Lake

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Living into my blessings.

IMG_4268Blessings are a gift
One we may be given
One we may earn
Do not fear
That they may leave you as quickly as they found you

Live into them
Allow them to own you
Heart and soul.
Fear has no hold in the face of that
And you are doubly blessed.

Over the last couple of years, the tone of my life has shifted. It no longer flows in the old ruts and channels. There is a sparkling vibrancy that is uplifting and delightful. Falling in love with the man of my heart is a big part of this shift. Being loved for who I am, adored and appreciated for my crazy ways – it fills up all the lonely places in my being, sews up the old wounds and hurts and heals them with the balm of kisses and good loving. It has shown me I CAN live with love at the center of my life.

I feel immensely blessed.
And that, right there, is the problem.

You see, I’ve been struggling with coming to terms with feeling blessed and lucky. Feeling blessed brings up all the reasons why I don’t deserve the blessings. Feeling of not being worthy or good enough. Part of me has been afraid to voice my blessings, to believe they were going to last, to trust in them. Part of me was worried my special someone was going to realize I just wasn’t good enough for him. Or, that something would happen to just blow it all up. Then I got worried that this worry and resistance was going to result in me sabotaging my relationship and my life and my health.

This kind of worry and fear arises from the stories that run my life. We all have them and we feed them and give them energy when we listen to them and allow them to impact us – which is why I love Intentional Creativity so much. It has taught me how to re-write, re-imagine, and re-create my stories into ones that truly support me.

So I’ve been musing about this struggle to believe in the blessings in my life. The IG treatment healing my immune system. The reality that my job is to go on a hike and pull out my sketchbook and create art that heals our connection to the earth. The wonderful relationship I have with my daughter. Because I also know that when my thinking starts spiraling down into a big black hole it is time to…

Dig in.
Sit on the earth.
What is this pattern really about?
What will shift it?

Yesterday was my birthday and I headed to Grandmother Ocean. I left an offering for Grandmother when I got there. I put my hands in her salty water and walked through the waves getting all sandy as I chased seaweed at low tide. It felt so wonderfully perfect.

I brought a new sketchbook with me and decided to begin it then and there. I sat on the sand and got my pen out. Mused for a moment and then wrote my intention on the first page and it  was NOT what I expected:

live into my blessings

To live into my blessings.

I read that and got chills. AH! Suddenly everything clicked into place. Blessings are meant to be leaned into. To be acknowledged. To be appreciated. Not hovered over like they are fragile and about to burst and disappear. The blessings are the NEW story I am living. The fear is the fear of change and new things and the best way to chase it out is to live my life fully, to live into my blessings. To allow the blessings to replace the old stories and become my new story.

Because you see, blessings are not just gifts you open and enjoy once.  Blessings are a gift that can radically change your life and you have a choice of whether you accept the blessing into your life and live it, or continue to walk down the same old path with the same old story. I know what I choose to do – blessings here I come! 

Wow. This is one huge birthday present. Wow and yowza and holy batshit all rolled into one. Thank you universe! And Grandmother Ocean…I would not have gotten this message without sitting on your sand.

May your day be full of blessings,


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