Cancer and Art
In March 2019, I gave this aspen painting to my team at the Stanford Cancer Centre, where I’ve been a patient for the past few years. I’m doing well and have reached the monitoring phase. While I don’t want to share all the medical details, I’m proud to tell you the story of how this journey has affected my art and inspired my work with nonprofits.
I have so much to be thankful for - a treatable form of cancer, access to excellent medical care, talented surgeons, and good insurance. For the most part, I was able to look after my kids and run my business throughout my surgery recoveries and treatments. I have a supportive husband, family and friends.
At my diagnosis at age 33, I had a two year old and a new baby. All the cancer survivors I knew gave me the same advice - take care of yourself, but keep busy. I cleared space for a studio in the garage. Cancer gave my paintings an energy and edge that they didn’t have before. I stopped trying to make my landscapes realistic, and started pouring paint onto the canvas. I stuck metal leaf onto them, just to see what would happen. I can look back now over the last few years and see my paintings getting brighter and more vibrant as I took risks.
My creativity grew further when I shifted my focus to using my art for nonprofits. I first created my Fluid Landscapes style for a benefit series for the Nature Conservancy, and with my collectors’ support, I raised $10K in 2018 for the environment, humanitarian causes and cancer research. I gained courage to share my work and raise my prices when I was doing it for causes I was so invested in, and this gave me focus and perspective when I needed it. It’s a privilege to be able to donate any amount, and I’m thankful for that too.
Many of you know why I stamp an aspen leaf onto the back of each painting. As a former forester, I see aspen trees as a symbol of community, connected through the roots. I’m part of a community of artists, learning from each other over space and time, supported by the larger community of people who love art. This has helped me in ways I didn’t imagine. Thank you for your role in my recovery and the evolution of my art.