In March, 2014, I became very ill with Meningitis, suffering septic shock. For many months my memory was blurred, even erased, with my vision reduced to a mass of white fog punctuated by orange wavy lines and painful headaches. I later learned I was also suffering from PTSD.
Literally overnight I lost many of the artistic skills I had worked so hard to develop over the years. I had worked as a contract illustrator/writer for Harcourt in the Educational Measurement area several years before. Only a few months before getting sick, I had completed a lengthy project for a large painting on tile, commissioned by someone near Abiquiu. The fire in my brain left me broken and depressed, unable to see well, understand speech clearly or enjoy my greatest love -- painting.
Like the junk drawer in my kitchen, my thoughts lay broken and scattered all over my mind, fragmented, untidy heaps of disconnected impressions. There was no sense of order. With no real depth perception, I experienced the world around me through a damaged optic nerve and injured brain.
A close friend and fellow artist, suggested I relearn how to express my feelings with paint on paper. At first I was unable to record my thoughts in any kind of organized pattern, so my first attempts were rather simplistic. When I became frustrated, she was there encouraging me to simply paint what I felt, without worrying about creating a masterpiece. At the time of my first piece, “Through the Veil,” I could barely see what I was drawing.
Two other dear friends, Jann and Jennifer, have been beside me in spirit all along, urging me to keep going when the road seemed impassable.
During the past two years I have kept a record of my journey, writing and drawing my struggle with pain, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Over the next year and a half, as I grew stronger and started to regain my sight, I began to experience a renewed and profound joy for life.
This series, called “Emergence,” is “journal art” or “visual journaling.” The pieces are not intended to be great art. Instead they are snapshots and recordings of my own personal journey to recovery from brain injury and PTSD.
And because I am an eternal optimist, it has a happy ending.
Click image to read accompanying journal piece.