Few people can say that a painting has saved their life. Doug Munroe, a self-made artist and naturalist, can. Munroe is the former president of the Florence Thomas Art School, author of two books, ardent planter of trees and strong believer in the healing power of art. Experiencing the most excruciating pain of his life while recovering from a kidney transplant, he decided to channel these feelings of agony into a painting. Mixing the cremated ashes of his longtime art mentor into the pigments, he let his paintbrushes reveal his red, gutted, and raw emotions.
After expressing this darkness, Munroe realized there was more to the painting. He added details of the bright white and blue vines of a morning glory flower, framing the death with new growth. When it was done, he stood back and cried, finally able to release the depressive memory of his agony. It was a painting about a terrible experience that he was able to transform into something wonderful—a painting that his mother could only describe as “beautiful awful.”