Sweet friends – I am honored to have been featured in Voyage Dallas Magazine. My heartfelt appreciation to all of you who have prayed for my family and have been “angels on earth” to us as we have attempted to navigate life after suddenly losing our eighteen-year-old son Grant 3.5 years ago. This article highlights my journey back to living a life beyond loss as I have created with the Creator and have received much healing for my hurting heart. I share my story to bring hope to others and appreciate each of you as you have blessed us greatly! Hugs! Deana (Dee-na)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deana McGarr.

Deana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My creative spirit was nurtured at an early age by my mother when she enrolled me in art classes at the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass in Neenah, Wisconsin. She was always cheering me on to explore different artistic mediums; drawing, painting, ceramics, and even creating with makeup that she was going to discard! Not only did she cultivate my love for the visual arts, she also nurtured my passion for writing and taught me her “copy and paste” method of editing with glue and scissors before home computers became popular.

After graduating with a Visual Communications degree, I worked for ten years as a professional illustrator in Dallas for several well-recognized clients, including The Deep Ellum Association, Sambuca Restaurant, The Container Store, J.C. Penny, and products sold at Neiman Marcus. After my children were born, I decided to put my artistic endeavors on hold for many years and became a fitness instructor specializing in Pilates and Barre. I was attracted to the flexible hours, which were a better match with my children’s schedules.

However, on March 16 of 2017, my eighteen-year-old son, Grant, passed away. This situation left me heartbroken, and therefore the last thing I wanted to do was anything creative. My friend Missi Jay with Gigglebox Design called a few months later, encouraging me to “create and heal.” She thought that God had designed me to create. Her call was a life-changing moment, and I felt inspired to “create with The Creator”.

I began writing “prayers & shares” for grieving moms as they were the words that I needed to read at the moment and started submitting them to online Facebook support groups. Writing on a regular basis inspired me to become a professional volunteer for Compel Training, a Christian writer’s training program which was created by Proverbs 31 Ministries, where I currently co-lead the platform building community group. I am back to living life as an artist, and I believe that finding ways to express yourself in loss is very therapeutic.

Has it been a smooth road?
After taking a twenty-year break from working as a professional illustrator, I found that my technological skills were out of date. As a result of research, I uncovered many YouTube videos made by design experts who have been influential in teaching me the necessary skills needed to be an artist today.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I create whimsical art often blended with uplifting words to brighten one’s day. I have many designs available on a variety of products in my online store through Redbubble. I am fond of making art that celebrates life, so I am attracted to painting in bright colors, swirls, hearts, and stars. I am passionate about creating designs that produce a smile; therefore, I enjoy painting friendly faces, cute cats, art angels, fun flowers, and “D-lightful Doodles.”

I specialize in custom canvas creations that illustrate my client, their favorite pet, or their loved one in a whimsical manner while also integrating design elements meaningful to them. I have designed pieces for children’s bedrooms, wedding anniversaries, birthday gifts and Dallas area restaurants. I desire to paint with a purpose by creating in a way that promotes positive living. I am always deeply moved when a person messages me that a piece of art or the words I have written have brought healing hope to their hurting heart.

As a visual artist who writes, I enjoy drawing “D-lightful Doodles,” fun drawings with words of encouragement that often contain prayer and scripture. These pieces till faith, plant hope, and water hearts with love so that they bloom.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Virtual art classes existing in a pre-recorded form and live courses being held through the Zoom rooms are currently in demand. Monthly subscriptions for online art classes are becoming very popular as they foster community and educate while allowing the artist to expand their reach beyond the local area in which they live. This also drives traffic to their art business, increasing sales and potential commission work.

I like to define success by living a life in which I would be willing to re-live again. While writing and art are part of my life, I would not want them to take precedence over my faith and family as these are my greatest priorities.

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