If you had asked me several years ago what I expected to be working on at age 23, I would have probably told you I would be climbing up Denali in Alaska, or skiing in the Himalayas. Or even working at some global environmental agency. Never in my wildest dreams would I have pictured myself where I am now… working to build my reputation as a professional artist, freelancing and getting flown exciting places like Alaska for projects, all the while spending hours painting pretty pictures of the mountains I thought I would be standing on top of. 


It all started two and a half years ago when I crashed on my mountain bike. I went over the handle bars and broke off my front teeth, abraded my body, and burst one of the vertebra in my back. Back boarded by several EMTs, I laid there in pain but mostly panic, feeling my identity being stripped away… Being a mountain athlete was how I achieved freedom and happiness on a daily basis, with my lifestyle revolving around skiing, climbing, and biking. I looked up at my friend Rachel Pohl, who I had been biking with during the accident, and through broken teeth asked her, “What the heck am I going to do now?” She looked down at me and with a smile and said, “You’re just going to paint.” 


I had taken one college painting class prior to my bike accident and in the beginning was a complete newbie, but after awhile, totally fell in love, staying at the studio into the night once everyone else had left. However, once the class ended my brushes and interest in the art became buried amongst essays, travel, and of course, outdoor sports. 


But suddenly here I was, confined to a clam shell back brace, with no other purpose than to heal, while a box full of paint, a pile of brushes, and a big canvas sat beside me. So I began painting, everyday. All day. I began painting the mountain peaks that I loved to ski down with forests and rivers below. I painted the sky and the stars. I started creating my own little, magical worlds. It was as if this art was just waiting for the correct moment to become exposed. . . To take over my life. Two and a half years later, I haven’t stopped painting. It has transformed from a way to ease my mind during my recovery into a sustainable lifestyle, a mission, a deep rooted love and obsession. Yes, I am back at it skiing, biking, and even surfing, but I now enjoy being outside for artistic inspiration versus needing to be a serious athlete. 


I snap photos while out adventuring and use them as reference in my painting process. I always begin a painting with a piece of wood painted black, so the acrylics pop with depth and color. I love to paint the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, as I currently live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Much of my inspiration comes from the rugged coastlines, tall fir trees, and mystical mountains.


Currently, I am working on branding myself as an artist through social media, with my target market being the outdoor industry. I do commission and work for individuals and companies, I have a website where I sell prints and stickers, and am working on getting more merchandise like hats and face masks. I hope to continue to learn from art, as it teaches me to focus on the present, remain calm and be patient. I also plan to continue sharing my story alongside my art, in hopes that it will inspire others to follow their dreams, to believe in themselves, and to take risks, even when you hit rock bottom. 



Check Gianna out on Instagram and her website.