The art of living
Lynley Rose painting bright future over bleak past
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/07/2020 (1041 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Lynley Rose turned to art to overcome trauma from her past. Now she hopes to inspire others to use art to find themselves and share their voices in her new art exhibition at Cre8ery called Come Alive and Chase the Sky.
The friendly, talkative 52-year-old began painting at “the young age of 42,” and says art saved her life.
Given her cheerful demeanour — it’s a safe bet she’s smiling warmly behind her brightly coloured face mask — the turbulent details of her life are something of a surprise.
She was adopted as a baby and became a single mom at 19; she also experienced sexual violence and indulged in harmful use of substances as a young adult.
Now, however, Rose is a passionate artist and adoring grandmother who is determined to live her best life, one without regret.
Her adoption into a rural-Manitoba family is how she came up with her professional pseudonym.
“My given (birth) name was Rose,” she says. “Just in the last couple months I decided to honour that little girl that’s adopted.”
Though she grew up in a loving family, she candidly shares that she got “mixed up in the wrong crowd” as a teenager.
“My boyfriend was eight years older and he used to, well, I don’t know how to say it… beat the living daylights out of me.”
Several years later, she gave birth to a son.
“I was a single mom at 19 and worked sometimes three jobs,” she says. “I missed out on a lot.”
After her son grew up, Rose found herself once again in a difficult place in her life.
“I was going through a really tough time,” she says. “I went to British Columbia to visit friends for two weeks and I ended up staying seven.”
During that time, Rose was inspired to paint for the first time, taking inspiration from the front cover of a book she had in her purse at the time.
“After that I just started painting up a storm.”
She would paint at night after her now-former husband fell asleep. Since she has no formal art training — “I still don’t know colour theory,” she says — she started out dabbling in abstracts, where she felt her lack of training would be less noticeable. Eventually she moved on to experiment in other styles, including mixed-media work and oil-based landscapes, especially the mountains of B.C.
Her early work focuses on the figure of a young girl hiding behind her hair.
“Those first pieces that I painted 10 years ago were really from a dark place,” she says. “But art therapy really saved me.”
She was initially hesitant to share her art.
“I’m not on Facebook. I don’t have a website. I’ve always been kind of private and afraid to show my work.”
But now, thanks to a recent discovery, she was able to overcome her fear.
“I lost my dad last year and my mom 30 years ago,” she says. “She left this Earth too young. And when my dad passed, I found some drawings that she had done. I didn’t even know that she liked to draw.”
Discovering her mom’s passion for drawing empowered Rose to share her own work. She hopes her story will inspire others to do the same.
“I really believe that creative activities help relieve stress,” she says. “So whether it’s painting or journaling or drawing or writing, you just need to get it out.”
She has advice for people with no training.
“It’s special to you, and that’s what counts,” she says. “We all have issues. We all have skeletons in our closet. We’re all afraid.”
In fact, owing to fears over COVID-19, she initially cancelled her exhibition scheduled earlier this year.
“I was too afraid. I was frozen. I couldn’t leave the house,” she says.
With the support of her friends and her love of painting, she was able to overcome her anxiety.
She’s also excited about the future.
“I get to have a do-over,” she says. “My daughter-in-law is going back to work and I get to be a full-time babysitter for my grandson River.”
Rose says it feels like a gift from God to be able to take care of her grandson in a way she wasn’t able to with her own son. And as her family moves toward a new future, Rose always keeps the past in mind.
“My dad said, ‘Before you die, I hope you live your life.’
“I said to him, ‘I’ve lived many lives, dad. I’ve gone through a lot.’”
“He said, ‘No. You’ve never really, really lived. I need you to really, really live.’
“So, I turned 50 and am trying not to have regret.”
She has been sober from alcohol for four years and from pills for 20. She credits cognitive behavioural therapy, her faith and her art with helping her overcome the difficult times.
“I feel so lucky. I really, really do. I’m just happy,” she says. “Painting makes me so happy.”
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Frances Koncan (she/her) is a writer, theatre director, and failed musician of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent. Originally from Couchiching First Nation, she is now based in Treaty 1 Territory right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba.