Akiane Kramarik - Inspired By God Or Just Plain Crazy?

Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:56 pm

I ran across this story today, and I was amazed at the talent of this young woman. She's only 12 years old, and her story is just mind-boggling. Check it out here: http://religiousfreaks.com/2006/12/15/akiane-kramarik-inspired-by-god-or-just-plain-crazy/

Be sure to watch the CNN video link below the text.

Recently on CNN I caught a video showcasing the story of a very gifted 12-years-old artist named Akiane Kramarik. There have been several young artists in the past, but I find Akiane rather unique.

What makes Akiane so fascinating is not so much how well she paints, but rather the subject of her work and her inspiration. Akiane claims to have met God when she was just 3. He told her that she needs to paint and help the less fortunate. He also noted that he’d be there to guide her along the way.

It gets more bizarre when you discover that her mother is an Atheist and her father a recovering Catholic. Religion was never discussed in the house and the kids are all home schooled.


The blog linked above says only what I've quoted here, but it provides (in addition to the CNN video) this link to a 2004 Christianity Today article with a lot more background information about this remarkable young woman, including how she came to create this painting:

Image

And it appears that her mother is no longer an atheist.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2004/004/7.24.html

Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:01 am

Rod Stewart is the Messiah?

Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:33 am

kingprout wrote:Rod Stewart is the Messiah?


ROTFLOL!

Wed Dec 20, 2006 2:25 am

I'd heard of her before. Regardless of her beliefs she is a remarkable painter for any age, never mind a pre-teen.

Her website.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 2:29 am

Has anybody actually seen her paint? It seems to me like it would be easy to scam a child prodigy painter. I'm not saying this particular girl is a fake. But think how easy the scam would be. It's not like a prodigy piano player who'd actually have to perform live.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:16 am

jlogajan wrote:Has anybody actually seen her paint? It seems to me like it would be easy to scam a child prodigy painter. I'm not saying this particular girl is a fake. But think how easy the scam would be. It's not like a prodigy piano player who'd actually have to perform live.


Image

Age 8, huh? Call me skeptical...

This is supposedly at age 4.

Another "Age 4," this one a "self-portrait"

Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:52 am

motor control seems pretty advanced for age 4, as do her uses of portrait conventions of stylistic abstraction.

however, that'd just make her unusually advanced, not impossible.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:13 am

The Sinister Minister wrote:
jlogajan wrote:Has anybody actually seen her paint? It seems to me like it would be easy to scam a child prodigy painter. I'm not saying this particular girl is a fake. But think how easy the scam would be. It's not like a prodigy piano player who'd actually have to perform live.


Image

Age 8, huh? Call me skeptical...

This is supposedly at age 4.

Another "Age 4," this one a "self-portrait"


jlogajan wrote:Has anybody actually seen her paint? It seems to me like it would be easy to scam a child prodigy painter. I'm not saying this particular girl is a fake. But think how easy the scam would be. It's not like a prodigy piano player who'd actually have to perform live.


I've read here and there that when she was on Oprah she did some painting, but I haven't seen that stated definitively enough to be sure. This interview with her on YouTube shows her painting a few strokes, but not enough to be certain.

The paintings credited to age four, however, make it more likely she is not a fraud. While they are remarkable for her age, they are clearly of a less skilled style than the later work. How many frauds would be sophisticated enough in their planning to include works that show the development of a skill to that extent?

Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:15 am

Celtjew wrote:How many frauds would be sophisticated enough in their planning to include works that show the development of a skill to that extent?


It would only take one. :)

I'm really not going to defend the idea that she is a fraud. It was just a random thought. It would be easy to fake.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:26 am

kingprout wrote:Rod Stewart is the Messiah?

Heretic. It is clearly Kenny Loggins...
ImageImage

Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:30 am

My strongest reaction when I look at all the works apart from the early pencil drawings is how intensely commercial they all are. To me they look exactly like the kind of thing that a posh jigsaw-puzzle company would commission.

I've seen the work of child prodigies before, and found it convincing. There was an autistic boy in England who did incredible line-drawings of architecture in pen-and-ink. They showed him at work in Venice.

Something about this girls work screams "wrong" and "fraud" to me.

Further, her story is told in quite a misleading way. They major on her Lithuanian background, but in fact she has spent most of her life in the United States. Also the home-schooling is relatively recent. Previously she was in normal schools in the States, which may explain where the religious faith was triggered even if mum is an atheist.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:04 am

The consensus among many professional artists is that this girl is a fraud - or rather, her family is a fraud, using her.

Brief thread about her on the Cennini Forum.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:35 am

The pencil work she does at age 4-6 is not uncharacteristic of children I've seen who were introduced to proper drawing techniques and coaching at that age. Most children at that age are given crayons and construction paper in a school room and draw in the same familiar art style as the other kids. This child had art books and some coaching.

Once she switched to paint at age 6 & 7, most of the stuff she does is copied from familiar sources but does show very good technique in color use and foreshortening.

As she gets into the age 8 - 10 range it's obvious that her most advanced work is in the technique of dynamic single characters while her landscape work still looks quite amateurish granted she's ahead of the curve at perfecting her use of colors. In other words, she's getting pretty good at the technique of dynamic figure painting without placing the characters in a room with backgrounds. All of that comes from books, coaching, and practice. At that stage nearly everything she's doing is still variations of stuff copied from other sources.

By age 11, she's exhibiting considerable skill at what she's been working relentlessly at for over 5 years and coming up with original angles to express herself. She's still a long ways from being a master artist but has a bright career ahead of her painting beautiful angels on velvet to sell at church events.

I'll give her an A+ and due credit for being way better than average for her age but, it's obvious that plentiful art books and relentless coaching are in her background. I don't doubt that she's done the work you see with her own hands though.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:38 am

The consensus is becoming that she's unlikely to be divinely inspired. Any way to nail it down?

Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:56 am

I'm willing to accept that the young lady is actually doing the painting. I've known people who can put an astonishingly accurate image on paper as casually as taking a photograph (which is the real core of "natural" artistic ability), and the rest is technical skill with the medium that can be built up over time.

But the real unusual aspect of this (to me) is the obsession that it would take to do this sort of thing at such an age. If she is borderline autistic (Asperger's Syndrome), it would explain quite a bit.

Historically, wild talents in the young have been rare but not unknown. "Child Prodigy" is a familiar term, after all.

After thinking about her descriptions of her dream conversations with God, it occurred to me that she may not have the familiar human trait of forgetting her dreams. An abnormality like that, coupled with Asperger's and the inate ability to draw, might produce what is shown here.

And if this was taking place 3,000 years ago, it probably would have jump-started a religion... :wink:

Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:58 am

furball4paws wrote:The consensus is becoming that she's unlikely to be divinely inspired. Any way to nail it down?

Is that a crucifixion joke? :twisted:

Anyhow your question is pretty metaphysical, no?

Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:00 pm

The Sinister Minister wrote:Age 8, huh? Call me skeptical...


Ok, you're skeptical. No surprise there, but where did you find a portrait of my sister-in-law for your avatar?

Of course, she's gussied up a bit and appears to be sober, but still... :shock:

Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:09 pm

jlogajan wrote:
furball4paws wrote:The consensus is becoming that she's unlikely to be divinely inspired. Any way to nail it down?

Is that a crucifixion joke? :twisted:

Anyhow your question is pretty metaphysical, no?


The answer will come in 10 years when she's able to squirt out from under her parent's thumbs. Some child prodigies fizzle; some continue.

If this is phony, what is she going to think of her parents in 20 years?

Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:20 pm

Dgray wrote:The consensus among many professional artists is that this girl is a fraud - or rather, her family is a fraud, using her.

Brief thread about her on the Cennini Forum.


That website very much mirrors my reaction. It isn't just that the work is so commercial (and incredibly banal) but that there is no sense of an individual style at all. The paintings might have been done by 20 different artists. Mostly to me it looks like copies of commercial artwork.

It is interesting, and highly significant, that she is unable to express any significant ability in front of witnesses. Somehow when everyone goes away suddenly the picture gets done before they come back. What's the betting that mum or dad has artistic training?

Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:29 pm

There are well-known child prodigies in math, music, and chess. I don't recollect ever hearing of one in painting. Anyone know of any?

Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:04 pm

Fraud, fraud, fraud - hoax by the parent(s).

Let me rephrase that:

UTTER BULLSHIT!

Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:29 pm

thatcherite wrote: It isn't just that the work is so commercial (and incredibly banal) but that there is no sense of an individual style at all. The paintings might have been done by 20 different artists. Mostly to me it looks like copies of commercial artwork.

That's the point I was making above. I've got a ton of art books from different styles and recognise many of her sources. She's real good for her age but it comes from coaching and practicing at a skill - not divine intervention.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:44 pm

furball4paws wrote: The answer will come in 10 years when she's able to squirt out from under her parent's thumbs. Some child prodigies fizzle; some continue.


I'm reminded of the story of the 3 Polgar sisters. Denied an education and raised shut in a room with nothing but chess pieces for toys. They broke all records for women's chess and the youngest beat B Fisher's record for youngest grandmaster. Once they were old enough to get out of the house they rebelled against chess and published tell all child cruelty stories but then all went back to playing professional chess for a living because they were heavily requested celebrities and darn good chess players with no education to do anything else for a living. I'm also reminded of the Marjoe Gunter faith healer story we were discussing here a few weeks ago.
There's a difference between art as an expression and art as a skilled craft. There is a tendency for older people who believe art is merely an expression to be amazed at the "prodigy" and "natural talent" of children who have been coached at a skilled craft.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 2:15 pm

Virginia-American wrote:There are well-known child prodigies in math, music, and chess. I don't recollect ever hearing of one in painting. Anyone know of any?


I've seen some amazing stuff done by youngsters
I owned and operated a comic book store for 12 years and kept art contests going the whole time.
I also hosted some professional comic artists who came and gave tips to the youngsters and amateurs and there's where the difference between an amateur and a pro become obvious. Nearly everything the amateur does is copied from another source while pro's create images from imagination. No surprise! Most art school books even teach the technique of "draw what you see" rather than create what you imagine.

There's a quote from a BC Greek philosopher verbatim: Anything you habitually do repeatedly, you eventually become skilled at. People who habitually and repeatedly copy existing sources eventually become skilled at copying other sources. You've got to put your art books in the closet and spend a lot of effort drawing poorly without reference before you can eventually become skilled at creating skilled original art.

This refers to any art form including musical instruments. I know guitar players who can copy EC or SRV note for note but just look at you dumb if you ask them to play some of their own original licks. There's no natural talent involved. Picking out notes from listening to a recording is a skill that's learned by practice and once you've developed the skill, people are amazed at how quickly you can pick up a new tune you're hearing for the first time.

I'm not saying there's no such thing as a natural child prodigy but in most cases, there's a man behind the curtain coaching the kid at the cost of their broader education and social life.

Wed Dec 20, 2006 2:21 pm

Shucks wrote:
thatcherite wrote: It isn't just that the work is so commercial (and incredibly banal) but that there is no sense of an individual style at all. The paintings might have been done by 20 different artists. Mostly to me it looks like copies of commercial artwork.

That's the point I was making above. I've got a ton of art books from different styles and recognise many of her sources. She's real good for her age but it comes from coaching and practicing at a skill - not divine intervention.


It goes beyond that. I was a talented child artist -not to prodigy level, but much better than average at an early age. I was well-educated in fine art and loved a number of cartoonists and children's book illustrators enough that they influenced me. But I still had a recognizable style of my own. This kid's paintings have little continuity at all.

Someone asked about child art prodigies. There are hardly any, but Pablo Picasso was considered a prodigy at a young age. You can track his progress from year to year at http://picasso.tamu.edu/picasso/ - the "Artworks" section. Around the time he was about eleven his work took a great leap, obviously a result of formal training. His work has continuity, too.

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