The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 28, 2012

Artist's creativity sparked by near-death

By Jerri Brouse
For The Daily Item

SELINSGROVE — Take a look at any painting by Meaghan Troup and you’re likely to see what her friends and family describe as “lively” and “vibrant.” That’s not surprising, considering that’s how the same group of people would describe the artist herself.

What may surprise you, though, is to know where that spark comes from — and why it’s so important to share it with others.

At first glance, Troup appears to be just like any other 28-year-old — but she is far from it. She is a bonafide miracle.

“When I was 13, I was diagnosed with leukemia,” she said. “When something like that happens to you, you definitely grow up fast. You develop a new way of seeing the world.” Troup called it getting “new eyes.” “I really started to see the beauty in everything (after my diagnosis),” she said. “That’s something that has never left me.”

Given only a 25 percent chance of living, Troup struggled through years of chemotherapy and radiation treatment and managed to beat those odds.

“It is a miracle that I’m alive at all,” she said. “They only gave me a 25 percent chance at life and said that if I did make it, I’d be a vegetable.” But Troup didn’t give up. In fact, she did the exact opposite; she fought with everything she had.

She credits a large part of surviving the battle against leukemia at such a young age to being able to throwing herself into her art.

“My artwork helped me get through the battle,” she said. “All of my emotions and struggles went into creating each piece. In fact, I don’t think you can really separate my artwork from my battle.”

As a teenager, Troup also used artwork as a way to help other kids with cancer.

“I wanted (others) to know that no matter how many bad things are going on in the world, there can still be good things,” she explained. “No one is a statistic, no matter what you’re going through.” Troup is still involved in spreading that message at the House of Care at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville today. She hopes her story offers encouragement to others.

“I have this talent and it is a gift,” she said. “I just really hope that it can touch other people in the same way (it touched me).” That positive outlook on life is perhaps the most notable lingering effect of her battle with cancer.

“I’m not sorry it happened to me,” she said. “(Having gone through it) I ended up wiser, more compassionate and I understand what is important in life. It taught me to be fearless.”

Equally as important as her art is her faith in God.

“My faith is a huge part of my artwork,” she explained. “My battle helped me trust God — I’ve looked death in the face and the fact that I’m even here today gives me peace.” Her faith is evident in that she titles each piece after a scripture.  But, she said, you “don’t have to be religious to appreciate it.”

While Troup’s work includes photography, her first love is painting. She prefers landscapes, she said, because they allow her to use a lot of color and see the life in things.

“I don’t put people in my paintings because I want people to make (my work) their own — I want them to see themselves at the scene, not someone else,” she explained.

Troup finds inspiration for her paintings “all over the place,” including her hometown of Waterloo, N.Y.

“Some of my work is definitely influenced by Seneca Lake,” she said.

Other scenes come from memories, photographs or, on occasion, on–site.

She works in oils, watercolors, pastels, charcoals and also enjoys drawing.

Interestingly enough, Troup doesn’t use a brush to paint. Instead, she opts for a palette knife.

Troup’s love of art began when she was barely old enough to understand exactly what it was she was doing, she just knew it made her happy.

“My mother said when I was little there was not a scrap of paper safe in the house — I’ve been drawing and painting since I could hold a brush,” she said.

Mostly self-taught, Troup took a few fine art classes in college. She graduated with a degree in graphic design from Roberts Wesleyan College and later earned her master’s degree in marketing online from Eastern Michigan State University while working full-time.

“I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to study art under anyone,” she said. “So I got a degree in graphic design because it was a more marketable skill.” There weren’t professionals, per se, but there were mentors.

“My maternal grandmother was very artistic,” said Troup. “And my aunt, too. She taught me to use watercolors. My great-grandmother taught me to use acrylics.”

Working full-time as a graphic designer at Resilite Sporting Goods in Northumberland, Troup makes time to indulge her need to paint as often as possible. She often comes home from a day of work and heads straight to her studio where she will spend hours creating a new work of art.

“My husband is amazingly supportive of my art,” she said. “He understands this is my passion and it’s not just that I want to do it, but that I need to do it. It’s the way I vent — the way I speak to other people.”

Troup currently has three pieces of art hanging in the Hershey Medical Center and most recently saw her work displayed throughout the Kind Café in Selinsgrove. Five pieces were also displayed at the Bare Metal Gallery in Selinsgrove this past summer. She was excited to have been accepted to participate in this year’s Stroll Through the Arts in Lewisburg, too.

Troup is particularly honored to have had 13 pieces of her work chosen to be on permanent rotation at the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner’s office in Harrisburg.

If you missed it, don’t worry. Troup’s work can also be viewed on her personal website at www.meagdesign.shutterfly.com.

“This year I hope to participate in the Lewisburg Arts Festival as well,” she said. “It’s important to me that my art is accessible to everyone.”

Jerri Brouse is a freelance writer who lives in Lewisburg. E-mail comments to scoop@ptd.net.