“I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.” — Vincent Van Gogh
When commissioned to create a painting for Madison Health’s surgery department, Beckie Neff uses a similar, spiritual approach when seeking inspiration for her pieces.
“I didn’t know exactly how the painting would come together, but I knew that it would be great,” said Neff. “I pray about every painting that I create. Then I wait. I wait to see what vision is given to me. Sometimes the vision comes immediately and sometimes it takes several weeks, but I am always given precisely what God wants the world to see.”
Neff is a local artist and writer, and member of the London Visual Arts Guild. She was recommended by friend and art customer, Tonya Carter-Traudt, a surgery nurse at Madison Health.
The idea of providing a more calming environment through art came shortly after the hospital implemented family-centered cesareans. Physical changes were made in the operating room, such as the installation of speakers for patients to listen to music during the procedure. The surgery staff wanted to provide the same level of comfort in the recovery area.
“The surgical area is not typically decorated and is very clinical in appearance because of cleaning and safety regulations,” said Steve Smith, director of surgery at Madison Health. “While still meeting health standards, we wanted to step outside the box and provide a more homelike, family-oriented atmosphere for our mothers recovering from cesareans.”
Neff’s art features a newborn baby swaddled in a blanket and floating in the sky, surrounded by rays of sun. It represents the entrance into a new world from the mother’s womb. She describes the baby’s face as one of “innocence and wonder.”
“Although we are surrounded by those who love and care for us as a baby, we are individually born, separate from everyone else,” she said. “That is why I love this painting. It captures so much innocence and the energy of love that only a new birth can bring.”
While the painting may be new to the recovery area, Neff has come to know the space well. In 2009, Neff’s only child came to (formerly) Madison County Hospital to give birth to her first grandchild. After laboring for 18 hours, it was decided that a cesarean would be the best method of delivery. She also credits the surgery staff for their attentiveness throughout the procedure.
“My daughter was the first person in our family to give birth via cesarean,” said Neff. “We were not nervous because the surgery staff was very attentive throughout the process and we knew our daughter and grandson were both in good hands. At one point the staff asked me to come back and see my daughter, who was still in the recovery room having difficulty getting comfortable.”
In 2011, Neff’s granddaughter was also delivered via cesarean at the hospital.
“We gladly returned two years later for the cesarean birth of our granddaughter,” she added. “For the second time, we had a wonderful experience.”
Because of the positive experiences her family encountered at the hospital, Neff is grateful that she had the opportunity to give back to the same area where her family joined together for the first moments of her grandchildren’s lives.
“The full circle of this opportunity to create and paint a picture for this special area was magical and always will be to me. This specific place, a place where new lives are born and grasping for their first breath, is a scared place for all involved. I feel so blessed an honored to have created a painting exhibiting the peace and breath of life, which continue to witness for myself through the staff at Madison Health.”