As the Iowa-Missouri Conference women’s ministries team prepared for women’s retreat, which took place at the end of August, they discussed favors for attendees. Women’s Ministries Coordinator Gail Coridan reached out to Donna Burgeson, a member of Sunnydale Church, asking her if she’d be willing to use her artistic skills to help provide favors.

Burgeson explored different ideas and then presented a painting of a sunflower to Coridan, who took it to the women’s ministries committee. The committee loved the painting and Coridan asked Burgeson to paint individual pieces for each attendee. Burgeson agreed and dedicated hours to the task.

“I painted 130 sunflowers,” Burgeson said. “I used my evenings and weekends to paint.”

Each painting Burgeson did was slightly different, creating 130 variations of sunflowers.

“I wanted each woman to know that like the paintings, she is uniquely and lovingly made,” Burgeson said. “No one is exactly like the other and that’s the beauty of it.”

Coridan said Burgeson’s art was a blessing for her and many women at the retreat.

Donna Burgeson stands next to original art she made.

“This was a gift to God and all the women at the treat,” Coridan said. “I am very grateful.”

Burgeson said she recently began using watercolors, the medium she used to paint the sunflowers, but has been making art her whole life.

In her profession as a counselor Burgeson sometimes uses art therapy for those who have experienced trauma. In her work she uses several mediums including clay sculpting, painting and drawing to help those seeking therapy.

“Art is great for when there are no words to express such grief and loss associated with trauma,” said Burgeson. 

About two years ago Burgeson experienced trauma in her own life. During this difficult time, she used art to help heal.

“For about a year, all I could paint was a black hole with a light at the end,” Burgeson said. “Then one day, I painted a tree, then more trees, then some flowers and then a dancing girl. Now painting is my happy, peaceful place and a great way to regroup after work.”