A Conversation with Artist Andy Lakey
By Maryel McKinley, C.A.D.C., C.A.T.S.
The Inspirational Story of Andy Lakeys Journey... to Art, Angels & Miracles!
Andy Lakey s miraculous story has not only touched the hearts of millions of people worldwide, but his art has actually been seen by the blind! Furthermore, his angel art has produced prodigious and miraculous results, whether it be the warm feeling the Pope experiences from his Lakey painting hanging in the Vatican, or the facilitation of healing for a young boy in his hospital bed.
Anthropologist, author and Reverend Keith Richardson, has witnessed hundreds of people from all walks of life, various faiths and non-faiths, experience healing from the other side as they gazed with longing into the unfathomable depths of Lakeys brilliant angel paintings. All are painstakingly documented in Richardsons new book, Andy Lakeys Psycho-manteum: Spiritual journeys guided by art, angels, and mir-acles.
Yes, Andy Lakey is definitely an artist of the millennium. But what impresses me most are his humble beginnings, his near-death experience and his recovery from drug abuse . . . rising from the depths of despair to the heralded heights of international fame.
From scribbles and doodles on yellow pads of paper, to wall- length paintings that sell for $250,00.00 hold on as I take you on one mans journey of pain, love, faith and courage; a man who promised God he would paint 2,000 angels by the year 2,000 while helping mankind, a man who fulfilled his promise to God to never again touch drugs and to serve Gods children. Yes, Andy Lakey is truly a hero and angel in his own right.
Maryel: Did you feel you were special as a child; did you realize you would do something great for the world?
Andy: Not at all. In fact, I was always on the defensive when I was a child because my father and mother divorced when I was three. She married Mr. Lakey, but I never clicked with him; it was like water and oil, He was a different kind of person, so I kind of raised myself. I was always fighting, or trying to keep the bullies from beating me up. Maryel: When did you start using drugs? Andy: 11 years old, cigarettes and marijuana.
Maryel: When did your drug use progress?
Andy: When I was in high school I started using cocaine; I felt I had nothing to look forward to in life, and it was a great escape. I never really analyzed . . . just like some kids play baseball, I used drugs . . . my parents never did anything with us, like playing sports, or camping.
Maryel: How did you afford the drugs? Andy: I never stole from anybody and I never dealt drugs. You know how it is in high school, your friends give it to you. Later I became a very successful car salesman and spent every penny on cocaine and marijuana. I always had jobs, even as a kid I had a lawn mower cutting service, I delivered the papers, I worked all my life and never missed a day. But I always spent my money on drugs. I used to spend a lot of my money on my friends too, I always thought if I had more drugs Id have more friends but when I stopped using drugs, these so called friends disappeared!
Maryel: I like to call that rent a friend! (Laughter). Did you ever paint or create works of art before your near-death experience?
Andy: No, I used to doodle all the time though. I would draw one line on a huge canvass, just one line each night I got high. So the entire canvas was full of lines. I remember my roommate saying, Too bad you dont put all that energy you spend getting high into actually creating a picture. You could be a great artist if you tried. But I never tried.
Maryel: Tell me about the near-death experience that changed your life?
Andy: It is very painful for me to talk about . . .
Andy tells us about how after smoking some free-base cocaine and drinking a few beers, he suddenly felt like something terrible was happening to him. Rather than call an ambulance, or tell his friends, his pride only allowed him to leave the neighbors New Years Eve party and he barely made it downstairs to his apartment.
Andy thought he should make a can of soup, maybe something nutritious would help. But the type of nourishment Andy craved was not of the material kind, but of the spiritual kind. Something told him he was about to die so he ran into the shower with his clothes still on, and ripped his shirt open.
At that moment, he got on his knees and prayed to God for the first time since he could remember. He thought for sure he was going to die, so he asked God to forgive him because he didnt want to go to hell. Thats where he thought he was headed because at the time he believed if you did drugs, you were not in Gods favor.
After praying for forgiveness, Andy made the universal, perennial deal with God saying, If you save my life, I promise to do something good in the world. At this moment, seven angels swarmed around Andys body in a circular motion, until they became one at the middle of his chest. Then he saw thousands of angels on poles of light that were from several different galaxies, all traveling upwards in unison towards the One Source . . . except Andy. He couldnt seem to get hooked into any of the poles of light! He kept bouncing off of them!
Andys neighbor was getting worried about Andy, and when he came downstairs to look for him, the apartment door was ajar, and food was still cooking on the stove, while Andy lay cold on the floor of the shower with his clothes still on and water beating down on him.
Andy said he was compelled to enter the shower because he felt he needed water, that the water would somehow save him. This water turned out to be very holy water, as not only did it keep him from dying during his overdose, but it seemed to cleanse his spirit and his wounded heart at a cellular level, a soul level, a place of unfathomable depths.
In his friends truck escorted by the police, Andy arrived at the hospital, where his stomach was pumped, and the attending physician stated that Andy had enough cocaine in his bloodstream to easily kill him.
My feeling is that it just wasnt Andys time to die, and like some who have near-death experiences, they feel drawn towards the light but return to their bodies shortly afterwards.
Andy: After the experience I stopped using drugs cold turkey, and became obsessed with drawing images of the seven angels I saw. These drawings were on hundreds of pieces of yellow paper I kept drawing and drawing trying to get it right.
Maryel: I am so glad you decided to come out and tell the world about your overdose and your promise to God. You truly are a miracle. Everything you are doing has touched peoples lives in a miraculous way, I am sure you have saved more than one persons life with your story.
Andy: You never know. And the interesting thing is that for the first three years I was painting I didnt tell anyone about my near-death experience, being saved by seven angels, nor of my drug overdose.
Maryel: You know, I loved that. I said to myself This man is so humble. How outstanding that he has been recognized as a brilliant artist in his own right first, being the only artist in the world who paints for the blind. The fact that Andy donates 30% of the proceeds from his paintings to several charities is unprecedented.
When River Phoenix died of a drug overdose, Andy decided to come out of secrecy and share his story with the world. He even made a public announcement which still stands if any child 18 years of age or younger writes to him promising to never use drugs, alcohol or tobacco, he will send them an original drawing.
So far Andy has fulfilled more than 30,000 requests. He presented my 11-year-old son with a beautiful angel with a heart in the middle and congratulated him when he made that promise!
Maryel: What tools did you use to help you enter a new way of living, drug free?
Andy: Well, I was so frightened that I absolutely did not want to use drugs ever again. I had to stop hanging around the friends I was associating with, and I moved to another location. Each night when I came home from work I would draw. Also, I read a lot of positive-thinking books.
Maryel: Which books were instrumental in changing your life? Andy: The first book I read was Napoleon Hills Think and Grow Rich. Maryel: How ironic, I read that book when I was younger it totally transformed my life as well!
Andy: Another favorite was The Key To Yourself as well as books by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Og Mandino and believe it or not Tony Robbins. From these books I started to realize that you can really make a difference in the world!
You change your life when you take action, pick yourself up by the bootstraps. You have to make it happen, nobody is going to do it for you. If you have a positive attitude, whatever you want you can achieve. There is so much involved with synchronicity.
Maryel: Why did you stop lecturing?
Andy: I stopped lecturing because Iwould sometimes freak out on stage, I couldnt believe that I could waste my life the way I had with drugs.
Maryel: That is totally natural, as an addictions treatment specialist I can confirm that people who have abused drugs spend a period of mourning the life that might have been, and this often motivates them more than ever to live their lives with integrity, honesty and hard work, to catch up on what was lost.
Andy: So true.
Maryel: What did you do before you started painting?
Andy: When I first made the decision to paint fulltime, I didnt know what I was doing. I never had formal training, nor had I studied any artists. I simply went into my $85,000 a year sales job and gave my boss a two-week notice. When I told him I was quitting an $85,0000.00 a year job to become an artist, he thought Id gone nuts and said I could leave that day, but if I ever wanted my job back the door would be open. I never had to take him up on that offer.
Maryel: What happened?
Andy: Well, my first paintings I call my mud period. Everything looked terrible and like mud. Then through a series of events, I discovered that if I mixed two types of paint together it created an unexpected, yet beautiful and unique raised effect!
Maryel: I understand this happened right after you had a second visit from three angels.
Andy: Yes. Andy was discouraged. He quit his job, spent more than $6,000 of his earnings to buy art supplies and had been painting full time. Yet everything looked like a big muddy glob. He simply couldnt seem to capture the angels using paint as the medium, rather than pen and paper.
One day, after he awoke, Andy intuitively knew deep inside that this day would somehow forever change the way he painted. Sure enough, as he entered the studio he had a vision of three bearded wise men, who told him they were his guardian angels and they would lead the way and allow his paintings to help the world. He would not need to market himself, or do anything but simply paint every day. On this day, Andy discovered the technique he uses to paint for the blind.
The manager of his bank asked if he would like to hang his art there. He said sure, why not? That very day a famous art collector called his art critic and asked her to commission Andy for a huge angel painting in his home. She asked how long he had been painting, and he humbly and honestly replied, eight weeks. She thought either this guy is totally wacky or he is a brilliant artist, as her client had a superb taste in art.
Maryel: I understand you are the only artist in history who has been allowed to sketch inside the Great pyramid of Giza, is that true?
Andy: Yes. It was incredible and beyond belief. I was the keynote speaker with Marianne Williamson at the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
Maryel: Who is your favorite artist?
Andy: I love Picassos art but he is not my favorite artist. After doing some research about Picasso, I found that he was not the kindest man to walk the planet. However, I greatly admire the art of Van Gogh, and the compassionate, giving man that he was!
Maryel: What role does guilt play in spirituality?
Andy: It doesnt! You dont have to be a Christian to clearly see that Jesus agrees. You do not have to be a Buddhist to clearly see that Buddha agrees.
First of all, most of our human guilt is from a coercive ploy of social engineering, a religio-political tool of keeping people subjugated to the morés of their cultures. On the other hand, if we have done something we feel guilty about, we need only forgive ourselves and in the words of Jesus Go and sin no more.
In other words, forgive and forget, and get on with a better life. The truth is, we need to be as self-loving and self-forgiving as we can because we cannot give what we do not have. And if we are to become all that we can be, we need first to become loving and forgiving.
Maryel: On this same subject, do you ever feel that we confuse guilt with conscience?
Andy: We are forever confusing guilt with conscience. Our conscience is what we use to keep us from doing things we know are harmful. Guilt follows a harmful act. In this light having a so-called guilty conscience is really a personal kind of myth.
What I am really saying is that I knew what I did was going to be wrong, but I did it anyway. Guilt does not have a role in spirituality, but does have a role in keeping our human action as spiritually progressive as possible.
Maryel: I agree progress, not perfection! What a profound answer to such timeless questions. I am so impressed with the way that just came out of you, like water from a wellspring.
Andy: Actually, I have been thinking about these and other similar questions quite a lot lately, and my next book, Making Miracles which will be published in the fall of 2,000 will answer many of these questions and more!
New Years Eve 1999 will find Andy and his friends celebrating the Millennium Party at Dyansen Gallery in San Francisco where he will unveil the long-awaited Angel Assemblage 2000. This massive painting measures 10 feet tall by 20 feet wide and comprises 200 interlocking works of art, completing his mission to paint 2,000 angels by the year 2000.
Andy Lakeys books, paintings and jewelry are available at Things From Heaven, located in Ventura, California, as well as store owner, Rev. Keith Richardsons new book Andy Lakeys Psychomanteum (see review on page 8) which is a remarkable account of three years of miracles, healings, and visions that have occurred as a result of Andys art.
Things From Heaven is a definite must visit for all angel lovers, miracle believers and Lakey collectors. If you are interested in participating in Lakeys anti-drug program, please call 1 (888) ANGEL17, or check out websites: www.lakeyart.com or www.thingsfromheaven.com
Andy Lakey lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Chantal, who has had her own amazing near-death experience, and their two little angels, Joy and Cora.
Maryel McKinley, a doctoral candidate in Psychology, a nationally- syndicated columnist, and an addictions treatment specialist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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