My story so far...
How to describe my life story quickly, to start this blog off. Well my first thirty three years entailed someone who had a passion and drive for her career - to study the brain, research it, look at mental illness, further knowledge of that fascinating organ. She used to paint canvases after she came home from work. She loved to depict flesh with her primary colours cobalt blue, cadmium red and yellow ochre deep.
Then it all changed.
On 11th September 2008 I had a severe traumatic brain injury. My career stopped, my painting stopped, my life stopped - for a while. I became a different person.
My recovery is like an exponential curve, the first year involved big changes - I regained consciousness, I began to talk, I began to write, I began to live a little. In the following years I had small, subtle important changes in the way I could think and gain some identity. I also began to paint again, which meant so much to me.
I finally got a job where I spent a lot of the time endlessly chatting to my colleagues about what was on my mind. One of them, Sharon, said she knew what my perfect job should be. Art therapy. That would combine the two things I'm most passionate about: painting and the brain. I laughed it off with a sarcastic remark but her suggestion stayed with me. It's still there right now.
In St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne - I was there for 3 months
In terms of painting I had art therapy as a patient in Melbourne. It was there that I did my first canvas post injury Rehab - which is a self portrait with short hair at the front of my head, from removal of the front of my skull due to swelling from the injury.
Because the consultants found damage to my eyes there was talk that I may not be able to paint as a result. This scared the hell out of me. I felt I needed to prove to myself that I could and this led to a series of paintings that were photorealistic to the photos I used - Father / Daughter. This was a way I could prove to myself that I could copy an image with the correct colours in the right place - a paint by numbers exercise I suppose!
But I got sick of that. For me, photorealistic canvases defeat the purpose of painting, they don't include any of myself, my emotions in them. When I was painting a nude portrait of my friend I remember setting myself free on it. I used bigger brushes and concentrated on how I felt as I swept over the canvas - CraigieJoe. I realised that I was finally tapping into myself, which was a huge satisfying step to take.
Rehab Father / Daughter CraigieJoe
In 2010 I got an email from a gallery in New York City - Agora Gallery. They said they'd seen my website, seen my work and asked if they could represent me. I was stunned. I quickly accepted. This led to several exhibitions that showed me a different world, an art world that to be honest I'd only ever dreamed of!
I had a little boy, Jack at the end of 2016. That stopped my painting of course but as he grew, the more time I could spare to sit at my easel. Which started to give me some of my own identity back. Again.
I met Jo Bowen online in 2018. She stopped being a psychiatrist in London to run a stress clinic at her home in Devon and also to continue being an artist. We've together formed an art group called cRxeate. This is for medics, vets and dentists who use creativity in any way in their spare time, to de-stress, relax, inspire themselves and to give them some direction. Please check our website out if you're interested on www.crxeate.com. I'll be blogging more about this as time goes on so come back and check it out!