Artist won’t let illnesses quell creative passion

Cindy Burget of Bellwood has found a passion for painting despite living with lupus, fibromyalgia, arthritis and Raynaud’s disease for 30 years. “I paint until my fingers get cold and numb. Then I have to stop and sit. Then I do it again later,” she says. Photo for the Mirror by Amanda Drumm

The scenes in primitive folk art are notably of rural areas and buildings, sometimes with red and brown muted colors and often times with bold, vibrant colors.

Cindy Burget of Bellwood knows this artwork well; she has been painting it for almost 10 years. Her hand-painted art tells stories of times gone by, but within the artwork is a story of her own.

Burget has been living with lupus, fibromyalgia, arthritis and Raynaud’s disease for 30 years. The conditions cause much pain and other symptoms in her body, especially in her hands, but also have helped foster a love of painting within her.

“I tried to do stuff since I was a kid, but talent never worked out. Now 40 years later, I found my talent,” Burget said, who added that she takes pride in painting buildings and paints them well. In addition to her folk art, she enjoys taking photographs of homes and painting them.

Burget’s paintings take her between 40 and 80 hours to create.


“I paint until my fingers get cold and numb. Then I have to stop and sit. Then I do it again later,” she said.

Her Raynaud’s disease causes poor circulation and leaves her fingers numb and ice cold. Burget said, “I turn every color green but green.”

Her mother and sister both passed away from lupus, an autoimmune disease with crippling symptoms. Burget is living beyond her initial diagnosis and continues to battle the disease.

Her friend, Vickie Harbula of Bellwood, said, “They had given her 10 years, but she’s well outlived that. It’s very hard for her to get around. Her lungs are filling up with plaque, making her heart work overtime. And her knees are shot; they’re bone on bone,” Harbula said.

Prior to painting, Burget enjoyed sewing and began coloring a few years ago. She relished that pastime and decided to switch to acrylic paints and work on her own masterpieces. Her paintings, depicting ancient scenes, have been displayed locally at the Station Medical Center and the Altoona Area Public Library.

Harbula said that Burget has additionally won awards and local attention for her art.

“She won a logo contest for the Bellwood community picnic. Now it’s her logo you see there every summer,” Harbula said.

Harbula and Burget met at their church three decades ago and forged a lasting bond.

“We just kind of fell into a friendship,” Harbula said. “Cindy has opinions about things, but would do anything for you. If she loves you, she loves you. We are really good friends. She is very serious about her Christian walk. She never wants to do anything that’s not right, she’s very good like that.”

Harbula has seen first hand how painting has been positive for Burget.

“Cindy gives it all to the Lord. She doesn’t look at anything as a disability, but looks at her abilities,” she said. “She paints for a bit, then may need to lay down, but she loves it.”

Burget’s artwork provides her soul with accomplishment and encourages her to push through hard days.

“I try to be happy and content. It hurts, but I’m just the type to keep motivated. Painting does that for me. I can do it while I’m watching television. I’m happy doing it and can’t wait until the next day to start all over again,” said Burget.

She does not dwell on her pain from her diseases or the toll they take on her body. Burget is just happy to have found a passion in her painting. She has proudly showcased her work in craft shows and is always looking toward the future.

“Eventually, I want to try scroll sawing to make houses to attach as 3D to canvas and someday want to put lights in it,” she said.

Burget also wants to become better versed at the internet to be able to sign up for more shows and possibly sell some of her work on websites like Etsy. Another priority for her is to save her money for a much-needed scooter to enable her to get around better.

Armed with her purpose and hopes, Burget will keep putting brush to canvas and pushing forward to create her masterpieces and fulfilling her goals. Harbula has no doubt Burget can achieve all of them because “she is a very talented and a very good-hearted person.”


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