Listen along, or listen instead:
Colleen from Winnipeg contacted me in 2018:
“I am living with metastatic breast cancer and I’ve been given a timeline of two years which is coming up on August 17th. Excited to say that I am living with new norms, responding well to treatment and wanting to celebrate my accomplishments thus far.”
Colleen wanted a custom piece of artwork. But something “unfinished”.
I phoned her immediately to learn more about her story and felt an affinity because of a mutual friend, a shared hometown, and that my father had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
“I want the picture to only be an outline… the colour would be filled in by those who have been an integral part of my healing journey. I would ask all those very important people to paint in a flower, a piece of greenery, a butterfly…. I would also ask them to print their name somewhere in the area they coloured. Once the picture has been painted, I would want to frame it and hang it in my home.”
I created three digital sketches of one-line drawings for her to choose.
Once she chose her preferred flower-and-butterfly composition, I re-created the one-line drawing on large watercolour paper and applied her desired colours (purples, pinks, reds) as a background, leaving the main components unfinished.
I mailed her the art materials she would need to complete the painting on her end; watercolour brush pens and a paint pallet, accompanying the rolled-up artwork.
Colleen reached out when she received the package with many questions for exactly “how” her VIPs would apply the paint, and what type of matte and framing would be best once the piece was complete.
She held a small painting party the following Thanksgiving, and her friends and family filled in the flowers and butterflies, completing the painting.
“Wendy, this was a dream to have this and almost overnight you have given it life. I can’t stop thinking about your generosity and the time you are giving me (a stranger) so that I can have a dream come true. I wish I could give you a hug.”
A summer Winnipeg trip in 2019 to visit my father was the perfect opportunity to meet Colleen in person. We met up for a drink and she was radiant and healthy. She scooped me up in a hug and showed me a picture on her phone of the painting that hangs on her wall. She had been responding well to her cancer treatments and still is to this day. Her commitment to courage, mindfulness, positive manifestation, and appreciating the beauty of each day transcends the doctor’s prognosis. She had, and still has the most positive outlook on life as she lives on each year.
Meeting Colleen, and working with her on something she finds peace and beauty in, can only be described as an absolute privilege.