Cindy Evan Painting Through the Pain


Embracing a creative venture can essentially be the same as escaping to a new land. A world where anything is possible so long as you conjure it. These periodic trips aren’t just temporary shifts in mindset where innovation blossoms, but extended escapes from the realities of the real world.
At its core, indulging in one’s inner creativity is a form of therapy for artists. In their darkest moments it can be an escape from pain, both physically and mentally. One artist who knows the benefits of such therapy better than most is Williamston-based watercolor painter Cindy Evans. 

During an annual physical in January 2017, Evans received unsettling news. Doctors informed Evans that her mammography showed suspicious spots. After further testing, including three biopsies, it became clear that she had developed breast cancer. Suddenly, her life had changed. Luckily, her prognosis was good, but things weren’t going to be easy. Preparing to enter the hardest phase of her life, she channeled what she knew best as a source of comfort.

“During chemo, when I felt so lousy, being able to get up and having enough energy to work for an hour in my studio allowed for part of my brain to take over,” explained Evans. “It allowed me to bring calm to the other part of my brain that was focused on the pain, anxiety and worry. My craft became a powerful coping tool, and the outcome wasn’t as important as the act of doing it.”

Evans’ work typically represents her most joyous life experiences, but during her battle she channeled her emotions, both the good and the bad, into a new series of paintings. In a three-piece watercolor set, Evans chronicles her progression from vulnerability to resiliency. Within each, Evans meticulously uses symbology and metaphor to share her emotions and outlook during each phase of her journey. The beauty of each impressively displays the tone of every moment along her journey, while masterfully achieving consistent eye travel and points of curiosity that lure in viewers.

The first painting, titled “The Storm,” focuses on the fear and anxiety of the unknown prospect of death. The second, titled “Shine,” is an interactive, mixed-media piece that incorporates messages of encouragement she received from her support unit of friends and family, while the third, titled “Standing Strong,” represents a victorious battle cry – celebrating the strength of all survivors and the warriors they have become.

“In my creative process, my feelings, experience and emotions move from my hands to the canvas,” said Evans. “So, I knew that when entering this that I would be painting through it. I hope that others see this and maybe it will enable them to tap into their creative energy as a way to help them as well. Their gifts are an advantage if they so choose to use them.”

The great philosopher Aristotle once famously suggested that “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” The stories and emotions immortalized in Evans’ compelling work accomplish just that by peeling away what appears on the surface to shine a light on the fighting spirit within her. In showcasing a struggle that’s all too familiar for most, and the perseverance it takes to reach triumph, Evans bring solace to the fact that even when all seems lost, you always have something unique and one-of-a-kind to share with the world. 

Today, Evans stands proud of her work and stronger than ever, ready to continue her 20-plus-year legacy as an artist and instructor. As a survivor, she acts as a testament to the power of creative support and perseverance in the face of detriment.

“It worked, I made it and I have three paintings to visually tell the story. I am a survivor,” said Evans. In her return to the larger painting community, Evans is scheduled to present during a weeklong artist workshop at the Kanuga Watermedia Workshops in Hendersonville, NC from March 30 to April 5, 2019. Her presentation will focus on how painting helped her document, cope, endure and overcome cancer.

To learn more about Evans and her work as a visual artists and instructor, visit

Adam Lansdell

Adam Lansdell

Adam Lansdell is an Alumni of Grand Valley State University, and currently a Communication Specialist with M3 Group of Lansing. With a passionate for all things creative it comes as no surprise that he’s also a musician, movie buff and graphic designer. Adam spends his down time biking, and spending too much of his personal income on concert tickets or vinyl records

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