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Art, elevated: For Rachel Baer Henderson, art was a saving grace

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By Deborah Swearingen

Rachel Baer Henderson likes to say her artistic journey began when she took her crayons to the wall of her childhood home.

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But despite her early experiments, the Conifer resident’s path to art wasn’t as clear-cut as one might think. She transitioned into art full-time 20 years ago after spending 10 years working in forensics. The work was interesting, but Henderson said she was ready for a change.

Now, she operates Rachel’s Creations, where she does face painting, murals, at-home painting parties and more. Through her business, she’s constantly adapting. Several years ago, for example, she purchased easels and paint brushes to use for canvas painting parties. She provides the supplies necessary to teach a painting class in the comfort of a person’s home.

In addition to being comfortable for participants, Henderson is always thrilled to share her love of painting with the world, especially considering it’s often with people who’ve never picked up a paintbrush before.

“It makes me feel good that I can somehow translate and help break it down and teach them and let them have something fun to take home and be proud of and hang in their house,” she said.

Henderson’s work can be seen in a number of places, including Ascent Church in Evergreen and West Jefferson Middle School. Furthermore, she’s worked alongside trompe l’oeil muralist John Pugh, who is currently in the middle of a project at the Denver Zoo.

Earlier this year, Henderson painted a mural about kindness in West Jefferson Middle School. Aimee Pless, president of West Jeff’s PTA, said she knew Henderson was an artist and face painter and decided to contact her about the mural.

She painted a poem about kindness on the walls of the school to promote mental health awareness and positivity. Pless said she was impressed with Henderson’s work, her attentiveness and her ability to produce exactly what was asked of her.

“She had great attention to detail,” Pless said. “… It was great working with her.”

Art as a release

Art is a form of livelihood for Henderson, but it’s also her release.

“I know I’m doing something right when three hours will go by, and I haven’t stopped to eat or I’ve hardly stopped to take a break,” she said. “ … It’s one of those zen kind of things where you just are in the flow and you’re happy and know you’re doing something that’s helping other people feel good.”

Her art has been particularly therapeutic in recent months.

“My artwork’s kind of saved my life this year,” she said.

Henderson’s husband died last summer after a year-long fight with brain cancer. While he was sick, Henderson said her husband always encouraged her to continue making art and taking time for herself.

“It kept me sane (and) happy to be to doing something positive even in the midst of the worst situation,” she said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen. 

Interested? To learn more, visit www.rachelscreations.net, call 303-973-8823 or search for Rachel’s Creations on Facebook.