By Vanessa Sheets−
Would you put everything on the line to pursue God’s calling? Here’s how an untrained artist turned her creative gift into a livelihood.
When CamMara Akers and her husband Kevin were about to retire in 2015, they were struggling financially, selling off their furniture in order to keep their house and frequently visiting the Salvation Army to get food. The lowest point? “We had to borrow toilet tissue from our son,” Akers remembers.
Still, Akers knew there was more to her than what she didn’t have. “I prayed that God would make me a world changer, like Him,” she says. As she continued to worship God, she felt His presence in what she describes as a warm, sweet-smelling liquid honey that enveloped her and told her to get art supplies- now.
“I turned to my husband and told him that I’ve got to go get art supplies, now,” Akers recalls. “I could see my husband was weighing in his mind: buy art supplies or pay bills?” But by the third request, her husband joined her in a trip to the new Hobby Lobby that had just opened nearby in Bend, Oregon.
At 58, Akers admits she was the least likely person to become an artist. She hadn’t received artistic instruction since high school, and her drawings at that point were what she referred to as “childlike refrigerator art.” Still, when Akers felt God leading her to the alcohol ink in the craft section of the store, she and her husband listened and purchased the items, despite having never worked with alcohol ink before. When she returned home and attempted to use the ink, Akers knew something wasn’t working, but she continued to pray and felt the presence of God guide her painting.
“To this day, God and I paint together,” Akers says. “He speaks to me through art.”
For months, Akers painted anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a day, sometimes sleeping only for three hours and eating very little food. She describes the experience “like I was on a honeymoon, my time with God was that precious.”
Eventually, Akers filled their home with 174 paintings. Her husband asked her how she was going to get her art out into the world. “I didn’t realize how good the art was. I am an artist,” Akers says. “I am who God says I am.”
Akers found her big break when her daughter invited a friend and her parents into their home and the friend’s father noticed the quality of the paintings and offered to photograph them. He helped her create prints she could take to galleries and businesses.
Within two months of painting, Akers was invited to showcase her paintings in Circle of Friends, a professional gallery in Central Oregon. Since she began painting in January 2015, Akers’ artwork has been featured in over 20 galleries, restaurants, businesses, and churches across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Hawaii. She’s been in 13 art shows to date.
“It’s never too late to dream with God, so dream big,” Akers says.
Still, for Akers, the goal is not about making money. “I’ve given away more art than I’ve sold,” she says. She views her art as a door for people who may not have a relationship with God but are open to the art. When Akers shares her painting with others, she notices that the art speaks to people in a way that touches them. She remembers a woman who came up to her during a show who fell on her neck and cried after viewing her paintings, which she calls Prophetic art.
“God speaks through art: color, texture, painting, dance, music, writing; it changes people,” Akers says.
Of course, it’s hard enough for any artist to earn a living when she begins a career in her twenties, let alone in her fifties. When Akers and her husband were invited to visit a friend in Kona, Hawaii, they still couldn’t afford the airfare. “God was telling me that it was time to rest,” Akers recalls, after months of painting almost non-stop. “My husband had been pushed aside for months, and I heard God tell me that it was time to relax, enjoy, and have fun together.” She told God that if He wanted them to go, they would if He could provide the way.
The day after, the cost of airfare was $420, down by 50 percent from when they first searched. Akers had just sold four paintings to the Seattle Revival Center for $200 a piece. They purchased the tickets and traveled to Hawaii for five weeks, staying in a friend’s home.
“During that time I was invited to teach art to children in a school in Kona,” Akers says. “I instructed them through the way I create art, which is to start with worship.”
Painting by painting, Akers is putting her faith in God, trusting Him to show her the way. She was diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer this year. “I was diagnosed with cancer, but I have Jesus Christ as my savior,” she says. “God told me not to have radiation or chemotherapy.” Instead, Akers is seeking natural treatment through juicing and a strict diet that includes mostly raw foods and no red meat. After learning through a documentary film series titled The Truth About Cancer that cancer can’t live in an alkaline body, she has continued to work hard to build her immune system to fight the cancer. She continues to listen to God very closely, and paint with Him.
“I sell approximately two pieces a week,” Akers says. “That is a lot in the art world. People ask me how I do it, and I tell them that the art is a response to the love through God, that the Holy Spirit is leading me.”
Vanessa Sheets is a freelance journalist whose articles have appeared in print and online magazines and business websites. Visit her website at TheHealthWriter.com.