Once Upon a Time

Listen here to Ann Rea's story as told by Alex Blumberg of NPR’s “This American Life.”


Ann Rea abandoned art for over a decade, only to develop chronic anxiety, a fixation with the future, and depression, a preoccupation with the past.

When she began painting again she did so with the soulful and truthful purpose...

to savor the colors of the moment.



a talented young girl pursued her dream of becoming a famous artist by attending a very prestigious and expensive art school.

For five years she learned how to make art…but not how to make money from it.

Then her student loan bill arrived.

She realized that she needed to make money, more than she needed to make art.


…she commuted to a grey-base colored corporate cubicle.

But this artless existence drove her into a deeper depression and anxiety that she could not numb.

Too often she would sit with two work mates and pass the time by complaining about the relentless office politics and their dull career paths.


…she remembered. Both of her work mates were in recovery from Stage IV breast cancer.

So she asked them, “If you had a magic wand and you could do anything, and be assured of success, what would you do?”

One said, “I don’t know.” 

The other said, “I’d be an interior designer. But I’m too afraid.” 

Stunned. She asked, "Are you afraid living what life you have left to the fullest more than you are of surviving cancer?"


she picked up her brush and palette to paint again after seven years.

Then she wrote a letter to an American Art icon, Wayne Thiebaud, asking if he would critique her paintings.

To her delight he responded and offered her encouragement to pursue painting full time.  


… she just couldn’t take one more two-hour commute, and 13-hour day, working for another “team leader.”

So she decided to turn her dream of being a full time artist into her reality.

In 2005, she moved to the beach in San Francisco and she wrote a plan to sell over $100K in one year.

This unknown artist exceeded her sales goal and Fortune Magazine quoted her.

If there is something you really want to do, do it now.

-Ann Rea, Artist & CEO of Ann Rea, Inc.


Artists Who THRIVE  

In 2011 Rea founded  Artists Who THRIVE to help other artists secure their creative freedom through business savvy. Rea recently launched "MAKING Art Making MONEY," an 8-week interactive online business course for artists and authored "Sell Your Art without Selling Out, 101 Rules," available on Amazon.com.