Three years after having two pear-sized brain tumors removed, Debbie Wagner painted her first sunrise.

A brisk winter morning in December 2005 created a particularly vibrant sky that sparked her artistic side.

"I think my creative edges were intensified because I lost a lot of other abilities of things I used to be able to do," Wagner said. "It was an incredible Kansas sunrise so I thought, ‘I'm going to try and paint that.’"

A showcase of Wagner’s work is on display now at the McPherson Arts Alliance gallery, located at 223 S. Main St. in McPherson. The exhibition includes a number of sunrise paintings, sculptures and portraits.

After that cold morning in 2005, Wagner saw breathtakingly outstanding sunrises for two weeks in a row, so she decided to start journaling them.

"I just continued doing it because I wake up every morning and I'm grateful and thankful to be alive and thankful to be functioning. It's just a reminder that I get to have a new day," Wagner said.

Wagner doesn’t need an alarm clock. She wakes up with the sunlight that streams through her skylight in her bedroom. Then, she takes her regular place on the east side of her deck where she paints each sunrise.

"The tranquility of the moment of the morning is my favorite thing about painting sunrises. It starts my day off with quiet time with reflection and probably that I am in constant awe that the mornings can be so different," Wagner said.

Wagner is nearing her 12th year of painting sunrises, but she is still shocked that each one is entirely different.

In addition to painting sunrises, Wagner also acts as a storyteller while painting portraits.

Wagner explained when she is painting someone's face, she said she can tell a lot about them just by their posture.

"It automatically tells you a lot about who they are what they seen where they've been in life it's really pretty fascinating," Wagner said.

For more information, call the McPherson Arts Alliance gallery at 620-241-6131 or visit their Facebook page, “McPherson Arts Alliance (MAA).” 

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @MacSentinel.