Pella Chronicle

June 7, 2013

Finding Comfort in Art at Pella Regional


The Chronicle

Pella — For many years, Sharon Van Wyngarden of New Sharon had set aside her paints. While she was trained as a commercial artist, her priorities changed as a wife and mom. Instead of painting, there were other things to do.

Sharon’s kids would say, “Mom you need to paint again.”

So when Connie Milligan approached her in 2011 to paint a special mural at the Comfort House in Pella in honor of Connie’s mother Jeanette Robus, Sharon decided it was time to pick up her paintbrush.

“It was a God thing,” said Sharon. “I needed a purpose to paint. And if this painting can bring comfort to people who are grieving, then it serves a purpose.”

The Comfort House is part of Hospice of Pella and a department of Pella Regional Health Center. In the Comfort House, individuals and families spend time with loved ones who are dying. Some are there for a day or two. Some patients are part of the Comfort House family for months. Many families spend time in the quiet room, a chapel-like environment where people can grieve, pray, read or rest. Now a large mural of a peaceful farm scene graces one wall.

“My brothers and I wanted to do something special in memory of our mother,” said Connie. “A mural was suggested. At first we talked about doing one in the tub room. But we didn’t move forward too quickly, and it was a good thing,  because that small tub room was turned into a closet. So the chapel was suggested. It’s a good place.”

Connie and Sharon first talked about the mural depicting water or mountains, but it finally came to Sharon that it should be a farm.

“I called Connie and said God laid it on my heart,” said Sharon. “It needs to be a farm. Iowa is a pretty place. People joke about it being all cornfields, but it is really pretty.”

After several practice canvases which Sharon gave to Connie, she was ready to begin the painting on the wall. Within two weeks, it was finished.

“It was an evolving process,” said Connie. “It took two years. But every time we talked or e-mailed, we both talked about how God led us to this. It’s our hope that many will find comfort in it.”