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“Art is just something I must do. Fish are made to swim, birds are made to fly, athletes must be athletes, thinkers must be thinkers, and artists are supposed to paint.”
Seattle-based artist Henry Van Voast has started a new chapter in his life, creating art and taking other conscious actions to improve his situation. Henry describes achieving sobriety through a supportive community and learning to be at peace while living with mental illness. He has now discovered a newfound confidence in himself. Henry is affiliated with Seattle's Union Gospel Mission’s Art From the Streets program, which offers weekly opportunities for artistic expression and a space for men and women experiencing homelessness to explore the arts as a catalyst for healing and therapy.
Today, Henry can confidently say, “I have a life that I am proud of and feel psychologically healthy.” His present goals are simply “to get better at painting” and to discover how he can best “contribute to life.” Henry wants to share his story to inspire others and show that, despite the challenges, life may present, “it's still a beautiful world out there.”
Henry approaches painting intuitively, often creating scenes from memory from his birthplace in Maine, the local scenery of Seattle, or his journeys in between. He originally attended college hoping to become a competitive ski racer but found his love of art almost by mistake when he attended the “wrong” art class on the first day of classes. He describes that instead of attending a “basic painting skills” class, which he would have found boring, he walked into the wrong classroom and found a painting teacher who became his mentor throughout college and helped him grow his talents as an artist.“It was a miracle” he describes.
Henry quickly realized that his dreams of professional skiing may not have been what he expected, and life may have brought other challenges along the way, but he maintained a lifelong connection with his artwork which allowed him to always remain connected with beauty.
Henry feels at his best when he is painting. “It's the most exciting thing in the whole world to get a big glob of paint on your paintbrush and be armed for the attack,” to transform a blank canvas into something of great beauty. “This is what I hope to share with the world through my art.”
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.