Two women stand between a painting of a white eagle and another of a vase of pink flowers.

‘A small touch of hope and love’

The piano tinkles and water splashes in the fountain. Patients, visitors and associates walk through the open lobby at Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute; some chatting lightly, others absorbed in thought.

Off to the side, near the information desk, two women gently apply color to canvas, their brush strokes marking a moment in time that has come to a standstill.

People are watching. One woman in particular, a patient, comes to stand next to them. A moment of silence, and then a few words. Soon, painter and patient are deep in discussion.

The painters, Sandy Loutner and Ginger Brown, come to paint in the Gibbs lobby every Wednesday morning – an act of piety they call worship art.

“I’m listening to the spirit of the Lord,” Loutner said. “Whatever I paint, I consider what would be hopeful.”

Today, Loutner is painting a vase with dark pink flowers nestled among green rushes on a light blue background. Brown paints a white eagle on a mountaintop, with a bold blue sky behind.

The two have been creating worship art together for four years – originally at church during the service.

But when the congregation moved, there wasn’t space for the two of them to paint in the new sanctuary, Loutner said.

They were inspired to ask Gibbs if they could paint in the lobby, and they’ve been performing worship art there for more than a year and a half.

The patients often stop, drawn by the distraction from their own situations but also looking for someone to talk with. Brown calls it “a small touch of hope and love.”

“It’s hard for them,” Brown said. “It strengthens my faith to be able to pray with them and encourage them.”

But for Loutner, it’s even more personal. She is a cancer survivor herself.

Diagnosed in 2014 with a rare form of ovarian cancer, she went through surgery and then six months of chemotherapy. She didn’t have the strength to paint, or do much of anything. And still she took comfort in her faith.

That common bond makes it easy for her to relate to the patients at Gibbs.

“For me, this is a full-circle moment,” Loutner said. “It brings me continued healing, too.”

Loutner describes her painting style as impressionistic, with not a lot of detail. Brown likes paintings “with life in them. Sometimes it’s people. If it’s landscapes, its usually got a critter in it.”

They sell their paintings from time to time, mostly just to pay for more painting supplies.

Visitors at Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute can see the two every Wednesday morning.

Want to volunteer your talents for Gibbs, or for any of the hospitals in Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System? Learn more.