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Passionate About Art • by Jenelle Van de Mortel

Jenelle Van de MortelI haven’t always been an artist. In fact until 2004, I drew stick figures. I always wanted to paint, draw, and collage, but I was intimidated by the notion that all artists were born with an innate talent. Clearly, my stick figures proved that I did not have the natural-artist chromosome.

Forced to Listen to my Heart
At that time, I was a top executive in the computer industry and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. While the condition is not terminal or degenerative, it is debilitating and painful. I went from being an active, busy person to being a semi-invalid. Fibromyalgia forced me to give up my career. That’s when I discovered my entire identity had been wrapped up in my job. I was devastated. I felt like Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet when she goes to the friar and says, “I am past hope, past cure, past help.”

I was 44 years old, in poor health, with no job and no game plan. I did have the desire to create and a wonderfully supportive husband. With nothing to lose, I picked up a paintbrush and started painting. It was so healing and liberating! Painting gave me back my self-esteem. It allowed me to reinvent myself. I wanted to “pay it forward,” so I started teaching adults how to paint. It’s amazing to watch as students see those first shapes come together and realize that they can become artists — or whatever they want to be. My experience taught me that it’s NEVER too late to reinvent ourselves. While I do occasionally have bad days, the fibromyalgia is manageable. I do believe that if my body had not forced me to be still and listen to my heart, I would not have had the courage to pursue art nor the opportunity to reinvent myself.

Saving Myself & Others
I am so grateful for my life today. My art has taken off in many different directions. I still teach painting — along with mixed-media, art journaling, and watercolors. I’m a Deco Art helping artist. My work has been published in Victorian Homes and Romantic Homes magazines. And I once again have hopes and dreams for the future.

My creative journey has been supported and propelled by so many amazing women. Women must empower women. We become so powerful when we work together-extending a hand to help one another. This was my inspiration for creating W.H.O.A. (Women Helping One Another). It is a women’s networking group where creative dreams are supported, resources shared, and success stories abound.

So, while I don’t have the DNA of a Michelangelo or Monet, I do have the “passionate about art” chromosome. Apparently that is all one needs to save themselves — and hopefully others — through art.

“Creativity takes courage.” —Henri Matisse

To learn more about Jenelle Van de Mortel, visit


I love your story. It is so encouraging to know that someone can come from a place of pain and hopelessness and then to see how far they have come. Yours is a real story of courage and triumph.

What a beautiful & inspiring story Jenelle! Life is such an wonderful ride...
Like the quote from UNDER THE TUSCAN SKY...
'Amazing things can happen, even late in the game.'
I'm a testament to that & the women in my life have truly been...
The Wind Beneath my Wings! You're one of them!
Congratulations for all the inspiring things you're involved in my friend.
Big Hugs,

Jenelle, I'm so thrilled that you're getting the recognition you deserve as an artist and as an inspiration to other talented women who have creative dreams and just need a little push and some advice on how to make them come true.

Have a wonderful week as guest curator, my fabulous friend!

Lovely to meet you too Jenelle as guest curator. Love your blog, it's like walking into a beautiful shop with so many lovely things to see, a healing process in it's self.

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