By Ann Hennhoeffer

September 24th, 2021

My very good friend, Steffi Goddard, is a professional artist. About six months after my cancer diagnosis, during a particularly rough mental patch, she recommended that I join her for an immersive painting experience to “get out of my head." I had never painted anything before and was a bit nervous. However, her process was incredible. She told me to write a poem or something meaningful to me on the canvas, after which I picked a single color to draw a line revealing my entire life journey. After all the twists and turns and loop-di-loops, I chose three to four water-based acrylics and started painting between those ‘journey’ lines. Splashes and blocks of color magically appeared. And then, the craziest instruction: turn the canvas this way and that way to find the UP that speaks to you. Now, step back. Breathe. Look at it. What did I see? She gave me a piece of charcoal and all of a sudden I sketched a leg and a dress, and a goddess dancing her way to freedom with her arms above her head in ecstasy, and it just kept coming to life. The dress had movement, the fire crackled and the wisteria cried. I added some stencil detail and then she asked me how I felt. I said, “Free - this is my freedom.” Her last instruction: take a piece of charcoal and write that word on the painting somewhere. Now take your other hand and write it again. It was an incredible four-hour experience and I look forward to my next painting. This artwork was originally submitted for the CURE® 2021 Healing Through Hues Calendar Contest.