Akiane Kramarik’s story — Her rise from poverty to painting fame detailed

Akiane Kramarik

Akiane Kramarik has immortalized herself through art. Kramarik received no formal training – she points to God as her trainer – yet she’s drawn paintings of immense monetary and spiritual value. Akiane’s divine gift manifested during a tumultuous childhood in which her family battled poverty, disease, and rejection.

At the tender age of nine, Kramarik painted her way to an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Akiane claims that she only comprehended the power and influence held by Oprah after hundreds of journalists offered to interview her following her Oprah interview. 

Akiane Kramarik’s fame has grown steadily since that breakthrough television experience nearly two decades ago. Here is her story. 

Key Takeaways

  • Akiane endured abject poverty growing up in rural Illinois.
  • She started painting after a mysterious disappearance at the age of five.
  • Kramarik’s fame grew after her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show aged nine.
  • Akiane’s most famous painting, Prince of Peace, sold for $850,000 after its previous owner hid it for 16 years.

Akiane’s visions began after her mysterious disappearance at age 5

Akiane and Foreli Kramarik | Courtesy of Akiane Kramarik

Akiane Kramarik was born on 9th July 1994 in Mount Morris, Illinois, to poor parents. Her Lithuanian mother and American father raised their kids in a shack on the edge of a cornfield. Crop planes showered toxic pesticides on the land, poisoning the water and almost causing her father’s death. 

Kramarik describes a decrepit house on her website, with crumbling walls and no furniture. The neighbors treated Akiane’s family like outcasts, slamming doors at them whenever they tried to integrate with society.  

Thanks to a booming edible algae trade pioneered by Akiane’s mother, the family’s fortunes changed. In a couple of years, they moved to a mansion in Rolla, Missouri, where Akiane says she created some of her fondest memories. 

The pivotal moment in Akiane’s life came during her disappearance at age 5. Authorities distributed photos of the missing Akiane, searched for her in cars and created a multi-agency team to locate her. Akiane says that she could see everything happening, but nobody could see her. 

“I was able to see the exact number of search and rescue people, and all the vehicles and families looking for me from above, and that I was seeing everything in detail on many dimensions at the same time,” Akiane told WION

Kramarik re-appeared as mysteriously as she had vanished – by the windows in the corridor of their house. Nobody comprehended what had happened – not even Akiane – but the experience changed the trajectory of her life – it connected her to the divine.

Akiane saw visions of God in her sleep, awaking to recite her dreams to her mom. Kramarik didn’t grow up in a religious family – her mother was an atheist and her dad a non-practicing catholic – but she found a connection with God.

“Simultaneous with art was a spiritual awakening,” Akiane’s mother, Forelli Kramarik, told Christianity.com. “We didn’t pray together, there was no discussion about God, and we didn’t go to church. Then all of a sudden, Akiane was starting to talk about God.”

Kramarik’s mother believed in Akiane even when she lost faith in her abilities

Kramarik’s mother Foreli Kramarik
Akiane’s mother Foreli Kramarik | Courtesy of Akiane Kramarik

Kramarik enjoyed being homeschooled by her mother because it gave her a chance to explore art. Akiane’s spiritual awakening gave her life more profound meaning, but it didn’t make her a good painter – at least not immediately. 

Akiane’s early paintings were poor – as you would expect from a child with no training or experience – and her neighbors ensured that she understood the mediocrity in her art. Kramarik’s dejection often spewed out in rivers of tears, but her mother always encouraged her not to give up. 

“But my mother would always bring me out of the deepest despair and doubt by motivating me again and again,” Akiane writes. “‘A great artist is not better than others, Akiane. A great artist makes others FEEL better… A true artist is the one who finishes to the END.”

Kramarik reluctantly accepted working with other children. She initially thought it pointless but gradually found that learning from others accelerated her development. “I believe that those small doses of competition outside my comfort zone did thrust me into a deeper artistic level,” she writes. 

Akiane had a brief period of school learning, which neither she nor her teachers enjoyed as they often clashed. However, it had one positive effect: it introduced her to the world’s view of divinity, which she declared inferior to her perception of sanctity. She wrote on her site:

“Deep down, I felt that I perceived everything in a much broader and deeper sense. It appeared to me as if most people were completely ignorant of other realities, or that the realities they perceived were seen only from a very narrow angle.”

For eight tough months in Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado, Akiane took a break from art and focused on literature. A move to Northern Idaho reinvigorated Akiane’s passion for art. 

Kramarik’s most famous painting, Prince of Peace, was recovered and sold for $850,000

Akiane Kramarik’s Prince of Peace

After the move, Akiane resolved to paint the face of Jesus. She had a vague idea of his face but needed a model to base her painting on. Seemingly out of the blue, a carpenter resembling Jesus knocked on her family’s door looking for work. 

Kramarik told Christianity.com that she nearly fainted after looking at the man. However, the carpenter back-pedaled, with the significance of the task proving too enormous for him. Akiane said:

“He said that he wasn’t worthy to represent his Master. He’s a Christian, and he’s a humble person. But I prayed that God would change his mind and that he would call back.”

The carpenter ultimately yielded, though he said that request felt unusual. Akiane worked her magic, and after many grueling hours, she created Prince of Peace, which was two times her size. 

Unfortunately, the agent curating the painting stole it and held it for ransom. Following intense negotiations, Akiane got back her sawdust-covered masterpiece. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t remove all the sawdust from the paint.

Kramarik had a binding contract with the untrustworthy agent, but she broke free from it following a court case. Prince of Peace made it to another exhibition, where it was sold by mistake. 

“I couldn’t see it and couldn’t get it back for many, many years,” Akiane told Magnifissance. “It was my most prized and most treasured painting when I was a child. I was devastated, because my heart and soul were in this piece.”

The owner would only release the painting for an excessive amount of money. Akiane gave up on her prized possession and kept painting. However, after sixteen years, Akiane reunited with Prince of Peace

An art collector purchased it for $850,000 with plans to display it worldwide. “That was a Christmas present to me,” Kramarik told CBS News in December 2019. Akiane talked to Magnifissance about the significance of Prince of Peace in her life:

“I was completely blown away, because I saw my past soul engraved into it. The sawdust was still in the paint. I saw a lot of the history that was still there, and I was so relieved that the painting was going to be protected in a good home.”

Kramarik draws artistic inspiration from religion and nature

Akiane Kramarik
Courtesy of Akiane Kramarik

Kramarik has a perception of religion untainted by external influence. “We were with the kids all the time, and so these words from Akiane about God didn’t come from the outside,” Forelli Kramarik said. Akiane religion is her endless reserve of inspiration that she taps into to create art. 

Akiane also points to nature as a significant artistic influence. Akiane and her siblings – Defli, Jean, Lia, Ilia, and Aurelius – spent a lot of time outdoors surrounded by nature. “If I strayed too far from nature, I would physically feel my trajectory and inner compass going off-course,” Akiane said. 

Kramarik used the environment to bring out various aspects of human life. “The way rivers cross over long stretches of land is very similar to our veins,” she said. “It’s engraved in us to connect.” Akiane views humanity as nature’s greatest treasure. She explained:

“Mother Nature keeps us alive. Humankind is her most prized and valuable possession. We’re close to her heart, very close to the heart of the world.”

Akiane paints in the early morning hours, between 3 am, and 7 am. “I feel the most inspired and focused that time,” she told WION. Kramarik told Magnifissance that failing to wake up at that time ruins her day. She continued:

“It’s pitch black when I wake up, and it’s pitch black when I’m halfway through my painting. The moment the sun rises, a new energy comes through the window. I need to be present at that moment. I need to welcome it. It helps me through my creative process.”

Surrounded by the calming sounds of nature – she’ll walk through a forest or sit by the ocean – Akiane finds peace through reflection. The products of her inner thoughts manifest through her awe-inspiring paintings. 

Kramarik has seen God: she told CNN that the Father in Heaven is ‘like a bow light – really pure, really masculine, really strong, and big.’ Akiane told CBS News that God is her religion. “I don’t belong to any religions, I really belong to God,” she said. 

Akiane has no interest in fame, and she endeavors to help the world through charity

Akiane Kramarik
Courtesy of Akiane Kramarik

Kramarik told WION that her parents often reminded her that ‘purity and humbleness were the most significant foundation’ for growth as an artist. “I do not like any attention from media,” Akiane told the outlet. “And our lifestyle in the family did not promote pretentiousness or vanity.”

Akiane vividly remembers the first message God sent to her: The Deity told her to help people. As a ten-year-old, she had dreams of traveling to Africa to help needy people. Akiane told Christianity.com she wanted to alleviate the plight of suffering Lithuanians:

“Especially the Lithuanian people—the ‘garbage children’ is what they are called. They live in the garbage, and 2– and 3–year–olds are being killed for the first place in the food line. Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the world. They need help with food and medicine, and a free hospital. I really want to build a free hospital for them.”

Kramarik has traveled to many countries helping people through various charities. Akiane paints as she travels, with most of her experiences preserved on canvas. 

“Every city and village, every hut and palace, every forest and sea, every peasant and government leader I met is today in my paintings,” Kramarik told WION. “Literally, under layers of paint.”

Akiane strives to dedicate her free time to educational and humanitarian causes. She told The Washington Times that she learns and grows by fostering creative expression:

“For a true artist, life is a real academy. I am always both a student and a teacher. I have been teaching art to children since the age of eight. Now I am a co-founder of Akiane Arts School at Foreli Academy. As a student of life, I am challenged every day to experiment and to explore the unknown territories.”