More than 100 local art students collaborate on Rose Garden Hospice painting donation

Christina Thoen, the founder of Christina’s Art School (left) and Rose Garden Hospice executive director Brett Enns (right) pose for a photo following the donation on Wednesday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

The Rose Garden Hospice added some colour to its halls on Wednesday, and they have more than 100 local art students to thank for it.

Christina Thoen, the founder of Christina’s Art School in Prince Albert, was on hand to donate a painting created by her students. Thoen said they create one painting like this and donate it every year. This year, the Rose Garden Hospice seemed like a good fit.

Paintings from previous years were donated to City Hall and the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.

“This was really exciting because this is a new space, this hospice,” Thoen said following the donation. “My dad never made it to an actual hospice, but I just know when you’re nearing end of life, it’s really, really important to have something cheery around and some colourful energy, which paintings can bring into a space.”

The donated photo is a recreation of one of the most famous pieces in art history: ‘Sunflowers’ by Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh. Thoen’s students studied Van Gogh’s paintings throughout the year, then collaborated on one giant portrait.

One of her longtime students, Alanna Surkan, suggested the donate the painting to the hospice. Thoen liked the idea, and made the delivery Wednesday afternoon.

Van Gogh is her favourite artist, so Thoen is happy to see a work inspired by one of his paintings hanging in the Hospice halls.

“He has a lot to teach, namely about colour,” she explained. “He was the first artist who understood that colour has a frequency of emotions, and he knew that yellow meant happy.”

Thoen had only one rule for students working on the project: no painting over someone else’s work. Originally, she allowed them to use as much paint as they wanted, but with 100 students taking part, she quickly adjusted her plan.

“I found that doesn’t work so well,” she said with a chuckle. “So, they each got the same amount of paint, and when the paint’s gone, it’s gone. Then the only other rule is please try hard not to paint over someone else’s work. That isn’t always perfect, but they try their best.”

Thoen’s students range in age from elementary school children to seniors. She said it’s a joy to watch them grow their abilities through projects like this Sunflower painting.

“People are so incredibly talented and they don’t really realize (it),” she said. “All of the students who say they can only draw stick men and then I can prove them wrong in class …  I think this piece is a testimony to that.”

Rose Garden Hospice executive director Brett Enns was on hand to accept the painting. He said they want the hospice to be as home-like as possible, and this painting will help accomplish that goal.

“In everyone’s home there are certain things that kind of pop-out, and pictures and paintings and drawings and all of those different things just add to the home-like atmosphere that we have here at the Hospice,” he said. “We’ve had several people say, when they walk in, how homey that makes this place feel. It just brightens up people’s outlook in the day, and that’s a welcome thing here at the hospice.”