Edwin Tuts – Art for the Heart

In 2000 Edwin Tuts sold a painting for $26,000. In 2006 he was selling similar pieces for $100 each—to fuel a drug habit.

Today, says Tuts, "Every brush stroke that I do, every painting that I do, I try to create for God. I try to be an open channel for God."

EdwinTutsStudio At five years old, Edwin Tuts knew he was an artist. "My mother was an artist and I loved watching her paint," he recalls.

Edwin Tuts May 15, 2010bHe smiles, "One time, I went into her studio and dipped my finger into some paint and traced it across one of her paintings — oh no, I’m thinking, now I have to fix it! I worked the colours into the background of the painting—my mother didn’t notice!"

Tuts was soon simulating and expanding on his mother’s own elegant brush strokes. In school he drew portraits and intricate cartoons and sold them to other students. He laughs, "I had a lot of money when I was a kid."

In 1992 Tuts moved to Edmonton, where he met and married, as he says, the love of his life. He began working as a graphic artist, creating and crafting signs for various companies.

He applied to Grant MacEwan College’s fine arts program but was turned down because of his limited portfolio. "In fact," explains Tuts, "that was because I always sold most of what I painted and never took pictures. Some artists attach to their work; I’m someone who can easily release the paintings I do."

Tuts never received any formal training. Instead he made use of the local library, studying the great artists of the renaissance, including some modern works. He is inspired by many artists, but when things are coming together in front of the canvas, he says with a grin, "I like to think I’m in a kind of Da Vinci zone."

While he has experimented with different mediums and techniques, his true niche is wildlife and landscapes.

Tuts’ ability to capture the exquisite grandeur and intricate beauty of a natural setting, his penetrating eye for detail and his quest for perfection lead to burgeoning success. By the late 1990s he had paintings in a number of galleries across Canada and the United States. His originals were being scooped up by collectors and his prints were selling for $1,400 each.

But success and the allurements of the self-made artist brought complications and distractions. His own metaphor for this time was that his focus became skewed.

"God is in and around you. You split a stick and you will find him, you turn a stone and he will be there. But I focused on the sticks and the stones."

Tuts could see what was happening but confides, "It was like I couldn’t stop myself. I started using, my painting became stiff, nothing flowed. And I started pushing people away. I was losing my mind; I was losing my heart."

He would go backpacking in the mountains to reconnect with nature and to centre himself, but would come back to the same sabotaged relationships and the same self-loathing.

His life snarled up. He lost his wife and family, he began using drugs heavily, and with it, lost inspiration and despaired of the gift he had been given.

"Everything I touched turned to dust. I lived with a load of self-condemnation that I thought would never leave." Edwin comes to tears when he talks of the pain he caused his family and his parents.

Still, even in the darkest of those days, Tuts prayed and clung on to the possibility of God hearing him, the possibility of some kind of opening.

It came while talking to a friend who worked for Hope Mission. Tuts was ready. He needed to leave the basement he was living and working out of anyway, so he went to Hope Mission and joined its recovery community.

Months went by and Tuts saw himself progressing. Then his dad died, and he relapsed. But he had come a long way and he asked himself why he was going back — and for what?

Tuts says, "I could feel my dad crying inside me; I knew what he’d want for me. So I continued in recovery. If God has a face, it’s through my dad."

His life and his gift have been restored. The emotion now reflected in his paintings shows a mature delight and an intimate reverence of the beauty of creation. For Tuts, God’s embrace through Christ is not merely integral to his art, it’s what calls him and keeps him at his vocation.

He has donated prints to numerous charities. Now, with his desire to contribute to the ministry of Hope Mission and his passion for seeing artists help one another, Tuts, with a group of a dozen other artists, will be holding an art show and sale: Art for the Heart of Edmonton. The purpose of the show May 22nd is to create awareness and raise funds for artists and the Hope Mission.

"I see it as a circle; my paintings are gifts, they come to me through God, I let them go, and through others I give them back to God."

8 Comments

  1. well. i read your story. i would like to say good on you. i never know what each day brings. but it is always intersting. hope to hear from you at some point.

  2. Hello

    I am very glad to have stumbled upon you, and your gift Edwin. It is a pleasure to read your story, since I too have a similar one. Your story resonated with me so well, and since I was a very small child I have known that I have this gift in me. I have gotten lost quite a few times throughout my life experiences/lessons, only to touch it for a moment, again, and again. The latest time was the first attempts with paint, since prior to that I only experimented with charcoal, pastels, but mosly pencil drawings….with a great love for horses first, along with other animals, and nature. My first paintings drew the attention of two of the most experienced and seasoned artists in my family. They told me that they were jealous, lol, but in a good way, since right away with all their hard work and experience over the years in acquiring the level of knowledge, & skills they have, it was easy to recognize that it was marketable with a great attention to detail, depth, and light. Then some other life changes came about to take me away from it once again, and one of them being the loss of my 15 year old Son. At the time of his death, I had a beautiful angelic experience just hours before I was told this terrible news. Since than I have felt compelled to come back to it, with a completely new level of conscious awareness & knowledge of the calm & peaceful beauty that can and will come through, along with the intention to give generously of what I believe to be of a healing nature as well. Thank you for being such an incredible Canadian inspiration to me,
    I would love to learn more about you, and your experiences..

    sincerely, MelodySoychuk

  3. I walk alone, and i am sore afraid;
    My way is dark, my path with thorns o’erlaid;
    Draw near me, Lord, and take my trembling hand
    And make me brave to join Thy pilgrim band.

    Thou hast a band which fears not dark nor death,
    Which suffers agony at every breath,
    Yet sings with joy e’en in the midst of pain,
    With whom the greatest loss is greatest gain.

    Who would not walk with such a company?
    Who would not sing with such an ecstasy?
    Did i say lone and fear? May God forgive
    And teach me, e’en through sorrow, how to live.

    Life is not life which knows no shrinking fears;
    Life is not life which sheds no bitter tears;
    This is true life when, through dark suffering,
    One learns from Christ and men brave conquering.

    Then lead me on thou martyr-host of God!
    Then lead me on, O Christ, to Thine abode;
    There with Thy holy ones I shall find rest
    And learn that death, in life, was God’s great best.

    -Henry W. Frost

  4. Wow Thanks for all your kind words and Melody contact me agiain on face book I would like to talk to you about you angelic experience! Thanks Stephen and everyone! God bless!

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