Pandemic Gives Artist Purpose


For Tuscany resident Denise Willis, the challenges of COVID-19 presented an opportunity to examine what is most important. When Denise lost her job due to the pandemic, she signed up for a free online class she thought would focus on painting skills. Instead, Denise found that the class was more of an exercise in self-exploration. As she worked through the exercises led by Australian artist Gilly Kube, Denise came to realize that family, wellness, and art are the most important things in her life. Through the course, Denise was encouraged to let go of limited thinking that inhibits creativity, and to just paint. She abandoned self-criticism and was excited by the idea that someone out there might like her work, even if she didn’t like it herself. Denise has continued to paint in acrylics and looks forward to expanding into mixed media in the future. She has just entered a painting titled Healthcare Heroes’ Dedication Tree into a competition sponsored by HealthPro Canada that honours frontline health care workers. The painting depicts a tree with visible roots. The roots have words describing heroic attributes. The tree is colourful and uses a paint pour technique that plays on mixing many colours and creates texture. Black-and-white faces wearing medical masks emerge from the background. Denise’s favourite piece is an untitled tryptic, which she created in a creative acrylic painting class. She used the techniques taught in the class, building up the canvas to create texture. The technique is juxtaposed with the flat geometric drawing style depicting a sunset landscape with mountains in the foreground. In the context of our current reality, one artist has found the courage to create, letting go of all that was holding her back. She has found an artistic purpose: “to spread joy and make people smile”.