Mark and Wendy DeRaud: Healing Hearts through the Arts

Updated: Mar 11



The DeRauds are members of SCA's Creatives Connect group. They are passionate about the arts as a tool of healing and restoration of broken hearts. SCA is pleased to have them in our group and glean their stories and experience in arts ministry.


Mark DeRaud has been a professional artist in Fresno since 1992 and spent a year as an art instructor at Fresno Pacific University. Self-taught, beginning as a child prodigy in Germany at the age of 14, Mark has produced a large body of work from Michelangelo-style gallery art to commissioned paintings to massive murals. Most well-known for his liturgical art, Mark's work can be seen at Holy Spirit Church, where his Stations of the Cross and altarpiece stand over 14 feet tall and 100 ft long. Also, Mark did the humorous murals at Me 'n Ed's Pizzerias, tropical murals at Irene's Cafe', St. John's Cathedral Narthex, and a mural at Boy's and Girl's Club. Mark specializes in oil painting and the old master's technique in Peter Paul Rubens' style and opaque watercolor. Wendy DeRaud has a multiple-subject teaching credential and has taught primary grades, reading intervention, and high school art.


"We soon learned that our students came from many backgrounds and many more traces of trauma from a variety of causes, all the more exacerbated by the lockdown. Our lessons are for most, if not all, the only social engagement they get all week."

An avid artist all her life, Wendy specializes in watercolor, figure drawing, and portraiture and loves teaching, inspiring others to engage in their creative gifts. In 2018, Mark and Wendy started DeRaud Art School, teaching art to homeschool, public school, and charter school children, some with various disabilities such as albinism, Autism, Aspergers, and ADHD. After the first year, the school had grown from 13 children ages 5-adult to nearly 50 students. After and during the pandemic, Mark and Wendy see a greater need for art instruction, helping augment the trauma from social distancing and lockdowns. The DeRauds are leaders and participants in their church's arts ministry, putting on art shows for Advent and Lent.


Mark shares his experiences with the arts and the challenges faced in 2020:


Wendy and I started the art school as a way to earn income. Regarding the therapeutic benefits of art instruction, we understood it as a therapy to be owned by therapists. We soon learned that our students came from many backgrounds and many more traces of trauma from various causes, all the more exacerbated by the lockdown. Our lessons are, for most if not all, the only social engagement they get all week. One of our brightest students almost casually announced her suicide hospitalization as her reason for missing last week's class. Another student's father died from a heart attack. Most of our kids are bright, introspective, and do poorly in traditional school settings, like me. I work with a 37-year-old woman who has experienced. In the beginning, she could only overcome her trauma by, with my coaxing, drawing a line about the length of this letter, "I." That was her one achievement II used to build her confidence to do two more lines and then longer lines. Hair, then pet portraits of which she sold two. I recently found out about a therapeutic strategy tagged, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, that parallels our way of encouraging our struggling students.


HOPE AND HEALING THROUGH THE ARTS

Storytellers Creative Arts (SCA) is a Christian faith-based non-profit serving Southwest Florida with a singular focus: Healing and transforming lives through the arts. It does so by creating healing and nurturing arts outreach programs to touch the underprivileged. Programs include visual and performing arts, storytelling and music. SCA partners with Youth Haven, David Lawrence Center Crossroads Adult Recovery, New Horizons After-School Clubs of SWFL, Amigos Family Center in Immokalee, and other organizations.


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