STORYTELLERS (Art With Heart): Emily Wierenga

This is the story of a broken road, a way made by grace (through the determined strokes of a paintbrush), and the creation of a masterpiece called family.

Emily Wierenga can often be found putting paintbrush to canvas or bending over the keyboard, painting with words. She works in quick, sweeping strokes of bright oil, gouache and acrylic as well as in raw, "imperfect prose." Emily says she is very "sporadic," since she must work around playtime and during babies' naptimes, even sometimes painting while her boys are sitting on her lap!

a mother's love--Emily

Perhaps it's these powerful, sporadic bursts of energy that allow Emily to keep her passion fresh and bubbling at the very surface of her creations, communicating an artistic and soulful authenticity that is engaging and inspiring.  Paired with her words, Emily's paintings in bold, primary colors communicate what Emily calls "the brilliant hope and the marvelous beauty which we all long for."

Emily autumn leaves

From her home in rural Alberta, Canada where she is inspired "by the yellow wheat fields and the blue stretch of uninterrupted sky and the red barns standing still," Emily writes about the everyday grace that shows up in the simple and in the beautiful and even in the brokenness of life.  Readers are drawn to her blog by this honesty and a community of bloggers gathers weekly at "Imperfect Prose on Thursdays" to share their own stories of searching for grace in the rough spots and imperfections of life.

While Emily's words seem to ache with the echo of a world longing for wholeness and for healing, they faithfully tap out a song of hope, telling true stories from her own life that testify to the beauty that can come out of the mess.

Emily--red canoe

Emily passionately and unapologetically lays open her own life and invites other seekers--"those who long for heaven," she says--to find refreshment and encouragement in the tenderness of her art. Emily's story is full of pain. She calls it "a broken story, fractured by anorexia nervosa, mended by grace."  And as a Storyteller who has worked through a lot of her pain with a paintbrush in hand, she shares a bit of that story here today:

emily's art

"I painted this picture long before I wanted children. I painted it in the hopes of wanting children. For so long I hadn’t. It was something I’d told Trenton on our honeymoon, on the stretch of tent and sleeping bag in Halifax surrounded by happy people. We screamed at each other and I thought, "we’ve made a big mistake." For I didn’t want them. And he did. And he’d thought I had too.

And for three years I proved my point by starving myself until he told me I needed to choose: it was food or him. And after a moment of quiet I chose him and I started to eat. We moved to Korea where we taught English from 2-9 pm, and in the mornings before yoga where fierce Korean ‘ajumas’ did one-armed handstands, I painted.

I painted pictures of mothers and children and I begged God through the strokes to give me maternal feelings. For I had none. I was empty, I was selfish, I loved my solitude and my guitar and my long stretches to dream up prose. I loved drinking wine and staying out late and sleeping in.

But the more I painted, the more I could see it. The picture evolving before me. The picture of love that withstands bloody labour and sleepless nights and spit-up on shirts, the love that makes you rock for hours on end just to hear the crying cease, the love that causes you to look across a floor strewn with toys and unfolded laundry, to find the eyes of the man it all began with, and to say “You’re worth this. You’re worth all of it. And I would do it over again in a heartbeat.”

Because it is. All worth it. When the rocking ceases and the spit up is cleaned off, when the laundry is folded and put away, and you stare into the face that you and your husband created, the face with his nose and your eyelashes and your grandfather’s jaw, you know: you needed that scream in the campground and those years of starving and that choice on the highway and those mornings, painting, to make you realize that this, this breathtaking miracle, will always be your greatest work of art."

--Emily Wierenga      

You are inspiring, Emily, because of your willingness to share your life so intimately through your art and words.  Thank you!  Read more about Emily on her blog and website, and view more art in her gallery.


  1. What a beautiful heart-warming story! I don't have anything to share.

  2. Your honesty touches my heart.

  3. Emily's art work is beautiful. I admire the openness and honesty of her story. Although I can't relate to the idea of children as the maternal instinct passed me by I find it interesting that she willed herself to develop the feelings because her husband wanted to have children and that once she had, she didn't regret a second of it. I am glad also to hear that she beat the demons of anorexia because of the love of her husband.

  4. I hadn't come by to see your "Story Tellers" thread yet, but was posting over at Emily's and saw her invitation to come over to her friend Sadee's place...and what a treat that it is you! No stories, it seems I haven't had the time to really do my art the last two weeks, let alone write about the adventures of life!


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  6. Thank you for hosting Emily! I linked up with my weekly post of art that is inspiring me in my meditations. Hope that works as the kind of link you're inviting. I look forward to following your blog.
    Tamara Murphy


Thank you for being kind with your words and generous with your time!