By Carmen Cristo
Luke 12:27 reads:“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”
This verse inspired Anna Chaney to pursue her passion amid a busy schedule. Chaney wears many hats—wife to Nathan, mother to Hugh Taylor and Henry, furniture designer, interior design professor, small business owner and artist. Her interpretation of the namesake verse: “Be content. Be happy in your own skin. Use what you’ve been given and don’t worry.”
Chaney’s early watercolor ventures happened while in college. She studied interior design at Mississippi State University, but took many art classes as electives. When she went to work as a furniture designer for FlexSteel, she picked painting back up, hoping to create custom fabrics for her pieces. It became what she calls her “creative outlet.” Her husband, seeing the fulfillment it brought her, encouraged her to go all-in.
“My husband and I are firm believers that if God gives you a talent, you should use it,” Chaney said. “You never know who you can reach.”
While her day job has her designing furniture to be made in mass quantity for some of the country’s biggest hotel chains, her nights are filled with painting one-of-a-kind pieces that will hang above couches where families gather, cribs where babies rest and above mantels to be admired. The contrast is not lost on Chaney. What seems like a side hustle is more like therapy to her.
Her work hangs in her own quaint Starkville home. She paints nearby at her dining room table, after the workday is over and her children are fast asleep. While the world outside her windows is dark, she imagines plants and trees in vibrant hues—monstera, ferns, magnolias and eucalyptus. Each stroke of the brush is a sort of act of worship as she brings to life leaves, fronds and flowers on paper and canvas.
“There’s just something about recreating what God made,” Chaney said.
She also does custom work for businesses, like AnnieB & TLC, who print Chaney’s watercolor designs on children’s shirts. Additionally, she paints custom sorority prints for MSU students. She recently hand-painted a watercolor wings mural inside Starkville’s LA Green live during an event. Individuals can order custom works, too, like custom stationary, wedding invitations and home illustrations. Sets and original paintings can be found in a few local stores—LA Green in Starkville, Farmhouse in Tupelo and The Local Artisan in Eupora.
Chaney never imagined that her watercolors, her “first love” as she calls it, would inspire so many, but she is not one to question fate. In the future, you can find her work on pillows and wallpaper and hopefully that fabric she initially dreamed about. Her newly-launched website (createdbywildflower.com) is the source for all of it.