Making art is one of the most important through lines of my life. It started with drawing, then printmaking, then painting. I had the privilege of teaching high school art and creating murals / installations in my early career. I excelled as a generalist; fulfilling client requests. I really had no style of my own.
Then in my late 20s, during a course with Sara Waters at Texas Tech, I started painting with my hands. Marks with fingers, impressions with palms. Sara gently pushed me past the boldly gestural to a subtle stillness. A field painting from across the room, a riot of color and marks and textures and tiny gestures up close.
Shortly after this breakthrough, I started having dreams about painting with my hands on every surface around me, frantic that I’d run out of things to paint on. Yes, even people. In some seasons of life, painting has taken a back seat to 9 to 5 life. After teaching art, I served with several ministries in creative roles. Each was deeply fulfilling for me as a follower of Christ as well as a creative, but studio time was sporadic. A couple of solo shows, a competition here or there, but sporadic.
It was during treatment for cancer in 2018 that I started to flourish again as a painter. Cancer sucks, no joke, but suddenly taking care of myself was the most important thing in my life. Rest. Long walks. Beautiful food. More time with people I love. The joy of releasing stress and worry to God. Watching God do miracles on a daily basis. During my third week of chemo, ba-bam. I painted a bed frame, painted the room to put it in, and started making art in various forms on an almost daily basis. And on days I was too tired/weak/cranky to make art, I thought about it, wrote about it.
Post-treatment and with the “no evidence of disease” proclamation, (thank you Dr. Stone & team at Hopkins!!) I’m overjoyed…or OVARjoyed since it was ovarian cancer…to be making art daily, living in God’s grace daily, and to have a well-stocked studio.
Blog post describing how this painting was a breakthrough. https://www.tmulder.studio/blog