My aim is to explore positive emotions from within despite what is often an increasing chaos on the outside. My ideas come from my inner self and they evoke peaceful scenes of sunlight, rivers and flowers, in which vibrant colour plays a central role. My art has a powerful and positive influence on my spiritual life.
In February of 2012, I had a haemorrhagic stroke and was left with severe deficits in my vision. This also resulted in aphasia, a communication disability that affects the language part of the brain. My words sometimes feel like a jigsaw puzzle with three or four pieces missing. Therefore, I am not able to decode the written word, which previously had been very important to me having been an English teacher. I had also just finished writing a book when I had my haemorrhage.
As it is difficult for me to find the words I really want to use (even though I know what I want to say), I found I could channel my creativity into another form of expression. The left, analytical side of my brain, the hemisphere that ‘thinks in language’, had been severely damaged. The right hemisphere, however, the side that ‘thinks in pictures’, happily went into overdrive.
During my rehabilitation, I was introduced to an unusual art activity and so began my passion for painting. Encaustic Art (from the Greek ‘enkaustikos’ meaning ‘to burn in’) is a method of illustration with hot wax. It is a medium which creates a textured, almost sculptural, effect. Heat is present throughout the process and the wax is applied to the canvas using small metal irons.
I found that I could create pieces of art that express my inner thoughts and feelings better than the jumbled words that are stuck in my brain. Visualisation is key to me and through my use of colours, textures and patterns, recognisable objects and scenes depicting the beauty of nature can be interpreted. Creating the paintings is a life-affirming process which gives me a huge amount of joy. I hope to share some of this uplifting feeling with others.
Sarah Jane Gray