Artist: Sharing gifts is part of God's plan

Yvonne Krogulski's artwork graces Angels Care Center and Project Love, ministries of St. John's UMC, Winter Haven, in the Eloise community. Graphic from Angels Care Center.

WINTER HAVEN -- Yvonne Krogulski, who teaches an art class at the Project Love and Angel Care Center in Eloise, has a theory.

When someone is born, God gives that person a suitcase full of treasures, and it is up to that person to discover what they are, she said.

“If you don’t try things, you don’t know that treasure is in there,” said the 54-year-old who attends Beymer Memorial UMC, Winter Haven.

Cross made out of hundreds of tiny paper butterlies
A wall-sized cross made from hundreds of tiny paper butterflies graces the sanctuary of the former Eloise UMC, now Project Love, courtesy of artist Yvonne Krogulski. Photos by Susan Green.

“I found my treasure a long time ago, when I was a child, but it was never nurtured and so I dropped it and went on to whatever else — but it was always in the back of my mind.

“So, when an opportunity came along, I decided to start again and I’m so glad I did. I do believe that God intentionally wanted me to paint,” she said.

During her weekly class, she aims to help students express themselves through art. The center where she volunteers serves people from financially difficult situations.

Krogulski sees far beyond those challenges.

“The ladies that I have met are awesome moms. They want a better life for their children,” she said.

“I can teach them how to take any little piece of anything, like something they found at the flea market or something that’s been given to them, and they can make art for their home.”

The artist helps students extend the life of their clothing by using fabric paint to create new designs. Then, she said, it doesn’t matter if a piece of apparel has been stained or repaired — those imperfections can be incorporated as part of the art.

Krogulski holds her class on Wednesdays, generally for about three hours. Anywhere from four to 10 women attend and they range in age from 25 to 74.

“Sometimes they come in and you can just tell, the burdens are on them,” she said.

Those worries tend to dissipate quickly.

“Before you know it, we’re all laughing,” Krogulski said.

The teacher — who previously taught art lessons in her home — said one of the greatest satisfactions in life comes from knowing that a student leaving her class is happy to have learned something new.

A heart-shaped piece of artwork on the wall of Project Love
Artist Yvonne Krogulski's artwork helps people who come to Project Love feel welcomed and loved.

“I do it to spread joy,” Krogulski said. But, she added, “I leave with as much joy as I bring in.”

When she’s painting, she’s immersed in the moment and feels released from the stresses of life, she said. She believes the same is true for the women she’s teaching.

“It’s an awesome thing to know that you can lift a burden for a few hours,” said Krogulski, who teaches watercolor, clay art and high-definition painting — using acrylic paint to provide high definition with subjects such as flowers, mountains and trees.

Lessons vary.

“Sometimes, it’s just a leaf we’ll work on,” said the teacher, who supplies the paints, brushes and projects.

Krogulski said teaching the art class evolved from volunteer work at the resource center, where she had painted angels, butterflies and flowers to help enliven the walls.

When some women saw what she’d done at the center they were in awe, Krogulski said. They told her: “Wow, you can do that.”

In response, Krogulski thought: “Wow, you can, too.”

While this class is for women only, the art teacher would like to offer a future class that would include dads and children.

“I would probably try to have at least four to six families at a time, at individual tables. The mom would already know enough to help out,” she said.

Krogulski believes that God gives us our suitcase of treasures for a reason: to share with others.

“The talent I have is not my own; it came from the Lord. If I hide it, it does nobody any good.”

– B.C. Manion is a freelance writer based in Tampa.

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