Featured Member

The Mindfulness of Art Appeals to Red Deer Creator

Sally Towers-Sybblis with some of her Whimsical Village works. Cards and prints of Sally’s work are available for purchase at the Red Deer Arts Council office gallery.


Sally Towers-Sybblis learned about the healing power of art after her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 58. His long, slow decline was terrible to witness, she recalled. And Towers-Sybblis was dramatically influenced by her dad’s 17-year affliction.

“It made me realize that I can’t NOT live out my dreams…”

She also realized the process of creation could calm her mind, allowing her fears about the future to fade away. “It brings you into a place of presence, You are not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. You are just enjoying the moment.”

The Red Deer artist and instructor now teaches art at Kerby senior’s centre in Calgary, as well as the Wellspring Cancer Support Centre, which has locations in Calgary and Edmonton.

Teaching painting allows her to “share the joy of art” with others.

But Towers-Sybblis took a while to find her calling. Born in Calgary and raised in Peace River, she did more partying than art-making in high school — perhaps because her vice-principal was her father.

Although she initially enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Lethbridge, she soon realized it wasn’t what she wanted.

Towers-Sybblis instead switched over to take the fibre arts and visual communications course at Edmonton’s Grant MacEwan University, feeling that “art was something that I always yearned to do, but never did.”

She enjoyed working as a window display designer for the Hudson’s Bay store in Edmonton after graduation, and was also a freelance window dresser for other retailers. After getting married, Towers-Sybblis moved to Innisfail, but felt too much “culture shock” there, after living in a big city. She ended up settling in Red Deer to raise her children.

Her creativity was eventually reignited in classes with the Lettering Arts Guild, where she learned to mix calligraphy with watercolour painting.

Towers-Sybblis has since shown her works in the Kiwanis Gallery in Red Deer, as well as Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton.

About a decade ago, she co-authored a book about hope and healing called ‘The Circle Club’ with two other writers.

She also began teaching watercolour classes out of her home in Red Deer, as well as online, and in the larger centres.

More recently, she re-discovered that the artistic process could help her overcome the trauma of the COVID pandemic, as well as her divorce. “I needed something for me to heal,” said Towers-Sybblis, “so I started doing art that I enjoy,” as opposed to making pictures that could please others.

By tapping into her imagination, she began drawing “whimsical villages.” There are no rules to how to form these cottage, castles, tower or churches. Towers-Sybblis has full freedom to doodle away. “That’s what I’m teaching right now at Wellspring. That’s the direction I am going in — it’s all about the whimsy for me.”

Her next project will be writing an instructional ebook to sell on Amazon about the healing power of art.

© 2023 Red Deer Arts Council — Literary, Performing, Visual | Log in | Website by EDGE Marketing & Design Inc.