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Creativity born in darkness

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Ingrid Boesten with an untitled piece of her artwork that displays her love of colours and stripes.
Ingrid Boesten has every reason not to paint, or if she did, you'd expect her to do dark works. Ingrid lives with a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
But she picks up her brush again and again.
She started painting tentatively a few years ago out of frustration. Then an event happened that put her creativity into overdrive.
Ingrid worked as a renovator with interior decor and often felt stymied at not being able to find art works that satisfied her clients, and complemented the rooms she had created. One client described what she wanted and Ingrid thought, "I can do this myself."
She painted her vision on a four-by-eightfoot piece of plywood and the client fell in love with the result. As time went on, Ingrid experimented with shapes and colours, but kept coming back to horizontal stripes and patterns.
"Stripes have been my thing. When I look at a landscape, an ocean or a sunset, I see stripes."
Her art soon began to take over the reno business she and her husband, Nico, operated together.
But an earthquake threatened to shatter their lives in 2010: A diagnosis of cancer.
It started out as colon cancer. Ingrid has had two surgeries and two sets of chemotherapy. The cancer spread to her liver, lungs, lymph nodes, abdomen, and now is not operable. Doctors suggest trying chemo once again, but she and Nico made a decision.
"We decided no more chemo; we decided just to live."
The results of chemo are "deadening," she explained, leaving her extremely worn out. She didn't want to live her remaining days that way.
Instead, she found, "Living close to death makes us more alive."
In the past few months, Nico and Ingrid and their two children, age 13 and 14, have gone sailing in the Gulf Islands, Ingrid has had a prom party, their dog had puppies (one of her favourite things), and she has unleashed a storm of creativity in painting.
The painting was a surprise. After she and Nico did a school reno in The Netherlands, a friend of a friend sent her two large canvases and a box of art supplies, not even knowing if Ingrid was interested in art.
She picked up a brush and has scarcely stopped since. Since October 2013, she's painted more than 40 works of art. Friends and friends of friends started seeing them, liking them and buying them. About half have sold and she's making more.
"I live with this diagnosis. Nobody knows when they will die, but I know for me it will be sooner rather than later," Ingrid explained. "There's the feeling of leaving something behind that will last, that's something of you. I know I'm running out of time. Now is important."
But the painting is far more than a wild last fling. "Since October, there's a release of this crazy creativity," said Ingrid, explaining it's like being on a high dose of adrenaline and she can't stop.
Nico confirmed this: "When she's getting in a zone, she's there."
Almost strangely, her best inspiration comes from rainbows. She is most proud of a series of seven paintings about rainbows, which use the colours of the rainbow.
"It's a completion," she said.
Ingrid explains the rainbow for her is a sign of God's promises. A rainbow combines sunshine and rain and makes something beautiful and "you are reminded it is bigger than you."
A practising Christian, Ingrid said, "My faith and art are expressions of my love for creation and God's love for us."
Ingrid insists God is good regardless of how her illness plays out. "For me, death is not an enemy. I don't need a miracle to know God is good."
Ingrid's art is on display at the heART School in downtown Kelowna throughout January, and an exhibition is set for Jan. 25.
 A special guest will be there to see it. Ingrid's father, Jan Vos, is a renowned artist in The Netherlands from the realism school of art. He will travel halfway around the world to see his daughter and her work together on Jan. 25.

Who: Ingrid Boesten, artist
What: Gallery exhibition
Where: heART School, #5, 375 Bernard Ave., Kelowna
When: Saturday, Jan. 25, 3-9 p.m. Also, Boesten's art is hanging in the heART gallery throughout January.
Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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