Racheal Anilyse

Racheal Anilyse

I’m struggling with this one.

I just heard from a Pikaland reader, Karen, that Racheal Anilyse – artist, illustrator and a lovely contributor at Pikalandpassed away on November 18 last year.

Throughout the years that I’ve known Racheal, I’ve never known that she was battling a rare skin disease. It’s the kind of person Racheal is. We exchanged long emails about work, illustration and everything under the sun. We talked about everything – except the challenges that she’s facing physically; it’s something that she has never mentioned, not even once. I’ve known her to be a wonderful person and friend – upbeat, passionate and deeply encouraging. The kind of friend that I would be drawn to in real life.

Instead of memories of long talks or bear hugs that would dot offline friendships, all I have now are strings of lovely emails and various snippets of our online exchanges; along with a remorse that is hard to shake off.

The last I heard from her was that there was a surprise package that was on her table, just waiting to be sent out from her trip to Paris (it has become a sort of running joke between us). I’ve always told her to take her time, and that I’d look out for it in the mail – whenever that may be.

It turns out that I might just have to wait forever, and that’s perfectly fine.

I’ll miss you more than you know.

UPDATE 10 January 2012

Racheal’s mother, Laura sent me an email:

Hi Amy,

I am Racheal Anilyse’s mother. As I am sure you have heard, Racheal passed away on November 18, 2011. I know she was a contributor to Pikaland. What you may not have known about Racheal was that she had a very rare skin disease since birth. It is called Epidermolysis Bullosa and she was born without collagen, which is like the glue that keeps the skin together. Any mild trauma would cause breakdown of the skin and treated like a 2nd or 3rd degree burn. Due to the repeated breakdown of the skin, Racheal has had severe contratures of her hands since the age of 12. Essentially, she has not fingers and just thumbs. She never wanted anyone to know this because she wanted to be taken seriously as an illustrator and she didn’t want to use her disease to advance her career. Unfortunately, due to the continued breakdown of her skin, she contracted squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) which spread to her lymph nodes and eventually her liver. She was brave and courageous and rarely complained. She kept her sense of humor and wit until the very end and was surrounded by her art and family. I just thought you should know.


UPDATE 13 January 2012

I just heard the most uplifting news from Laura (Racheal’s mom) that their family has started the Racheal Anilyse Art Initiative through the Rose Foundation of Haiti, and that the University of Hartford School of Art has established a scholarship in Racheal’s name.

Also, the University has an online guestbook where you can share your memories and express your condolences.

32 Replies to “Racheal Anilyse”

  1. So sorry to hear of your loss of your very talented friend Rachael… so so sad…
    ((hugs)) x

  2. Ashley says:

    I’m so, so sorry to hear that. I’ll be praying for her friends and family. I hope you are okay.

  3. Lani says:

    I’ve been sort of waiting for this post.

    I had a very similar relationship with Racheal. I met her years ago on Etsy and we followed each other around the web ever since. She was always this beacon of hope bubbling over with encouragement- so ready with a reassuring email. She let on once that she had been ill, but never how ill. She preferred to focus on everyone else’s needs and concerns. I regret losing touch with her this past year. I regret assuming she was busy taking the illustration world by storm. I regret not being there for our friend in her last days. But mostly I miss her silliness and her unfaltering kindness. She challenged me to be more patient and more brave. She really was a great teacher and her memory will continue to guide my judgement perhaps for the rest of my life. I’m certain many others feel the same.

  4. Alexandre says:

    Really sorry for your loss & she will miss to the entire world because she’ll never share a new piece of art again!

  5. dj says:

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. I never knew her, but I really admired her artwork. I faved her on etsy a long time ago and always meant to buy one of her pieces….but I never had a chance. So sad.

  6. AnnaDenise says:

    Oh wow. I didn’t know either. Wow. This is a shock. I will miss her terribly as well, she was such an inspiration.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I just wish I had found her before this post. I’ve read through done of her blog-not having the benefit of going to “illustration” school, her insight and words of wisdom are just incredible. She sounds like she was a great person to have shared s cup of tea with. Thank you for your post-she is still touching lives even though she’s gone. Hugs

  8. Anna Jane Searle says:

    This is very sad news. My thoughts are with her family and friends. R.I.P Rachael

  9. Shivani says:

    It’s a huge loss to lose a friend. I am so sorry to hear to hear that. Hugs your way.

  10. karen says:

    forever an inspiration… thank you, pikaland, for hosting her creativity and letting us know her a little more.

  11. Melanie says:

    Oh, Amy, this is such sad news. Please drop me a line if you need anyone to talk to. Lots of love xox

  12. Fiona says:

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to mention that a group of us have started a daily doodling blog as a great way to honor our dear Racheal and keep her in our minds everyday. The daily doodlez blog (http://dailydoodlez.tumblr.com/) is where we are going to post a doodle a day for a full year. If you are interested in participating, please email at: dailydoodlez@gmail.com

    And thanks to Amy for this post. I knew Rach and can confirm she was just as upbeat and encouraging in real life as well as online. She truly is missed by us all <3

  13. Ellen says:

    so sorry for this loss…

  14. aijung says:

    oh, this is so sad. i discovered rachael through pikaland and i loved her work and was hoping to see more from this very talented lady. i even wrote her once to tell her how much i enjoyed her art. her personality seemed to infuse her work with depth, humor, and sensitivity. it is always sad to see such a young, bright person pass on. best wishes to her friends and family. <3

  15. Pernille says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Eventhough I didn’t know her, I would just like say that she has been my number one inspiration since i saw her work here – her pictures have made a huge impression on me, also in the way I think about new things i see. I wish her, and everyone close to her, all the best.

  16. Natalie says:

    Oh god I was wondering why I hadn’t seen her around online recently 🙁

    Racheal was such a lovely, amazing person and we’d spoken a few times about how much it sucks to be sick and how it affects our creative practice. My heart is so sad for hearing of her passing.

  17. Clara says:

    Thank you for letting me know, Amy. I’ll miss Rachaeal. She was such a wonderful friend an a dedicated artist.( I’ll wear bright colours for you everyday, dear friend.)

  18. Heidi says:

    I’m deeply sorry for your loss. Sounds like she was a wonderful Kindred Spirit.

  19. We just saw this post today and feel sad and shocked to find out we’ve lost a dear friend. We never got to meet her in person but wrote to her a lot over the last couple of years. Just like Lani we thought she was very busy creating her amazing illustration work. She’d hinted that she was ill but never to this extent.

    We’ll miss her emails, her positivity and her beautiful artwork terribly.

  20. candace says:

    I just now discovered this news today, Amy. I am deeply sorry a friend was lost and want to stand by as one of the many people offering support. It pains me too knowing she had such hearty dreams for herself and her work, and time was just cut too short. Perhaps we can combine her work in to a finished children’s book for her?

    No matter what, Racheal’s art was so full of life and happiness and that will live on through the bright images she’s given us.


  21. Tracey says:

    Candace – what a great idea!!! Publishing her work!

    I always really enjoyed Rachaels art and her writing!

    Amy – I hope you are okay. Sorry for this sadness. Be kind to yourself while you work through the grief.

    An event like this teaches us to live well while we live! Which it sounds like something Rachael understood.


  22. char says:

    OH NO…I have just read your post about Racheal.
    I have been a huge fan of her work…and had no clue.
    So sad. I send my love and condolences to her family and friends.
    HUGS Amy.

  23. I’m stunned to read this terribly sad news. I’m so sorry for your loss, my deepest condolences to you and her friends and family. What a bright light she held. Hugs,

  24. robyn says:

    Oh No! Tears are streaming down my cheeks right now. Racheal and I used to email back and forth too and I considered her an online friend. I think we first met through flickr and she published me in Underground Art School. She was such a sweetheart and I feel terrible that I didn’t keep up with her. Just earlier this week I was looking at my links and thought about her and how she hadn’t updated in such a long time. I thought it was just one of those things where people’s interests change and they abandon their online presence. Hugs to everyone suffering her loss.

  25. Irit says:

    This is so, so sad. Rachael seemed such a wonderful person.

    My condolences to her family and her many friends.

  26. Amy says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks so much for your outpourings of love– Racheal is indeed very special and I’m so glad to hear your experience and time with her.

    Candace: Publishing Racheal’s work is a great idea, and is one I have contemplated, but I’m not ready to go there yet, and I’m not sure if I ever will –- every time I see her work, or read snippets of her blog and emails; my heart breaks yet again.

  27. Natalie says:

    I´m sitting and work and spill tears after tears. I don´t care. This is so very sad. Her artwork is truly amazing. There is light in every single line. Every detail.

  28. Jen says:

    this was so sad to read. i didn’t know rachael very well but we’d spoken a few times online. her positive attitude towards life is certainly something i ought to aspire too. thanks for posting this amy, i hope you’re okay. x

  29. Martha says:

    Very sad to read this. I was very inspired by her artwork, she seemed to have such a bright, positive outlook on life. Feel glad that I had the chance to tell her so. May she rest in peace.

  30. Natasha says:

    I’m so very sad to hear this. Racheal and I were both following eachother on Twitter and I admired her work. I never knew that she struggled with such a difficult illness. Rest in peace, Racheal. xo

  31. Kathy Tran says:

    This is unfortunate news and I wish everyone who has been affected by Racheal’s presence (online and offline) are keeping their chin ups. I was friends with Racheal on flickr and had published her work on LAND magazine. I knew that she had some sort of illness, but I did not know it was so severe. Her positivity, grace, and enthusiasm was present in our interaction and very apparent in her work. I would say that Rachael did influence me as a creative person, because I met her at a time that I was just starting to realize that I was creative. I admired her work greatly and was surprised/touched that she would take the time to talk to me and give me advice.

    Although this is sad news, I find it very inspirational all the same! Rest in peace, Racheal.

  32. I have just read all the posts and would like to thank everyone for your kind words. We (Racheal’s family) will be putting together a book about her and her art. I’d love to hear from anyone who knew Racheal and would like to share their experience and friendship for the book. Racheal journaled everyday of her life since she could write. I am learning so much more about Racheal through these journals. She continues to inspire me everyday. Laura – Racheal’s mother

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