Recent Artist NDEs and Their Stories

These artists discovered their artistic passions after experiencing life-changing NDEs.

Many artists have been creating for years, starting from childhood. Our parents might have noticed and recognized our creativity when we were younger, and might encourage us to pursue our talents further. But what if this wasn’t something you have been born with?

What if you never were an artist or had the idea to paint, saw or mold but life changed its course for you? What if the artist inside of you has just been awoken and all you want and need to do is to create art? A deep urge to keep on creating to feel alive again and stay alive for a while longer. This is what happens to some people who had experienced a Near Death Experience (NDE).

Lewis Krantz

Lewis was a hardworking homebuilder when one night he passed out while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. When he woke up on the bathroom floor he realized he was unable to move. “I was really, really scared, and I thought to myself, ‘If this is the way I am going to be, I’d rather close my eyes and not wake up.” The fall caused him to break his neck, needing surgery to repair the broken vertebrae. After the successful surgery, Lewis was suffering from post-surgery consequences. His life was at risk once again.

Untitled. Source:

Surviving these two events made him realize that he needed to retire. By reading Lewis’ story, you can imagine that at the age of 77 and still being very active, he needed a new path in life. He started taking classes at Glassell School of Art. His house is now full of his paintings, the dining room has transformed into his new studio.

“Everything I look at or read about or see in a magazine stimulates my mind. I always try to experiment with different art techniques and textures.”

What makes his story interesting is that he was a very busy person, even in his elderly years. He needed something to keep his mind and hands occupied. However, apparently working as a home builder has taken a toll on his physical body condition. The NDE that he encountered alerted him to the potential danger in which he was held. There might not have been a chance to make it out of it alive. He keeps himself busy in another way which is in a calmer and more relaxed setting. 

Ryan Gunderson

What makes Ryan’s story different is not only his physical story but also his mental one. Ryan was lying in bed, shaking uncontrollably, thinking COVID would end his life. Fortunately, he survived and pulled through. While working at a building supply store at the time, specializing in hard-to-source wood, he got inspired by someone else´s work. Dani, a popular female woodwork artist visits the store regularly. Without her being an inspiration to him and the NDE, he would not be where he is today he said. “I hadn’t done enough with my life and it motivated me to build my first piece, which was a mountain scene.”

Ryan Gunderson. Source:

What caught my eye is that although he had yet to make his own pieces of art and work with the exotic woods, he did already in a place that was of interest to him. He was already surrounded by the materials to make up his art pieces. Just as Lewis from the earlier story he obviously enjoyed working with his hands, being surrounded by tools for crafters.

“There are different textures, thicknesses and widths and this is kind of what I do, right?”

What he also has in common with Lewis is his interest in different textures and techniques. This might have been something that came with a higher sense of his surroundings, following the NDE. But it also could be an explanation of his more developed interest and motivation to create art pieces himself. He felt like he needed to get on with it and leave something valuable behind for his wife, his kids and the world.

Kathleen Newhouse

What started as a fun and happy trip for Kathleen and her family, ended up being a terrifying one. Kathleen suffered a ruptured brain abscess while she was having a vacation in Mexico. Because of that, she ended up having a coma for three months, being aware of her surroundings and the words being said. She needed physical therapy to regain her ability to speak again. To Heal from her trauma, she started painting. She held on through the dark days, she says, because she felt compelled to tell her remarkable story. Even though she said that as a child she was not artistic and almost unable to even draw a stick figure.

Kathleen Newhouse’s studio. Source:

However, what interests me is that she was a talented violist and has a black belt in taekwondo. It gives me the idea that as well as Lewis and Ryan, there was already a foundation for her abilities. Music and martial arts involve improvisation, listening, observing carefully and creating. After her awakening she started painting, showing the world what she had seen during her coma.

“The colors were breathtaking; they enveloped me, and I felt at peace.”

Although Lewis and Ryan might not have had the same dazzling experience as Kathleen, both of them have an inspiring story. They do experience the same need of wanting to create and share with the world a different version of experiencing it. What they all have in common is a new sense of destiny and purpose, their creative mind being awoken and just being more aware of their surroundings. They lived through dark times, being fully aware of their fragility. And they emerged more motivated than ever, wanting to inspire the rest of us and leaving something remarkable behind.

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