Painting with purpose: An artist's quest to bring joy to families in need through portraits

Clearwater resident urging other artists to help
Posted at 11:30 PM, Sep 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-05 23:30:35-04

Clearwater artist Laurie Anspach is using her skills to help bring joy and good fortune to families across Florida and the nation. All it takes are a few photographs and a lot of her own personal time to paint portraits.

Most days around lunchtime you can find Laurie Anspach in her Clearwater cottage painting portraits for free.

The quiet stroke of her brush slowly turns a blank canvas into a work of art for families in need of a little joy.

“I fell in love with the images and I fell in love with the cause,” Anspach said.  

Anspach founded the non-profit Painting for Good Causes in January. It was a decision she made after realizing there was a huge need in the community for family portraits.

She asked one family at the Tampa Children’s Cancer Center if they would be interested in having a portrait drawn for them. Word spread and Anspach ended up getting booked through the month of October.

“We can make a difference. We can help bring communities together,” Anspach said. “There are 40 artists across the country helping. My goal is to get 100 artists doing this and leading the way as a profession to make a difference.”

Anspach’s been a painter ever since she could hold a brush. On a sunny Saturday she did something she’s never done before— hand delivered a painting.

“Oh my God, it’s amazing,” Jennifer Blackburn said.

Blackburn’s son Jayond, 8, was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. For the past year Jaydon has gotten intensive rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant.

“It’s gorgeous I feel like it captures our family in the best way possible,” Blackburn said. “It shows a good positive future it shows us all healthy and Jaydon as happy as can be. For the longest time they weren't together — he was in the hospital for 3 months straight and he couldn't leave the room.  It’s nice for all of us to be together and that shows that.”

Anspach took 4 different pictures of the family and made it into one family portrait. Each drawing takes 70 hours to complete. A sacrifice this artist says is worth the time and energy to know her art made a difference.

“This is a courageous family, each and every one of them,” Anspach said. “We always hope the paintings bring them joy, help them feel connected and feel hopeful.”

Anspach paints portraits for veterans, foster kids, and children with cancer.  

“I think about who I am painting for,” Anspach said. In the case of four girls in foster care, she thought about their lives without a mom and dad.

“I think  about them without their parents at night, their future,” Anspach said. “Will they have parents next year? Will they be together?”

She may never know the answer to those questions, but Anspach does know her art has impact and her portraits have a purpose.

“We put our wish for their good future their wish for their adoption, their wish for their safety when it comes to the military, the wish for their health when it comes to the children,” Anspach said. “Their wish comes alive when they have that portrait.  A painting is not really, in my mind, a complete thing until it is received.  Until it is viewed, until it is enjoyed, until it has found a home.”