Posted on 19 Comments

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health

On Thursday I did something I have never done before. I did a presentation to a bunch people in London via the internet. During the darkness winter days of lock down I have sat at my computer and listened to quite a few people give presentations on subjects as diverse as Art (Jennifer Pockinski, Elizabeth O’Reilly), Irish Language (Manchán Mangan), Irish Bogs (Creative Rathangan Meithea), Irish Cottages (Ulster Architectuaral Society) and Literature (Gabriel Byrne) and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Mental Health Awareness Week
Artfinder: Mental Health Awareness Week

This Thursday, I got my chance to see behind the scenes of these sorts of events and talk about my experiences for Mental Health Awareness Week with On Thursday I did something I have never done before. I did a presentation to a bunch people in London via the internet. During the darkness winter days of lock down I have sat at my computer and listened to quite a few people give presentations on subjects as diverse as Art (Jennifer Pockinski, Elizabeth O’Reilly), Irish Language (Manchán Mangan), Irish Bogs (Creative Rathangan Meithea), Irish Cottages (Ulster Architectuaral Society) and Literature (Gabriel Byrne) and thoroughly enjoyed them.the team behind the online gallery, Artfinder (  I was also featured in a news blog on their website. During the pandemic many people are probably used using Zoom or Teams for their work meetings but I have never had this experience before. I think this is why I suggested a quick trial hook up the day the before. I had also seen things go slightly awry during those webinmars. My personal favourite was when the speaker’s  laptop battery suddenly died and he had to rush off to find another laptop and the chair had to fill in for ten minutes whilst he did this!

Googlemeet and Zoom

I am so glad that we did a practice run with Jane and Kirsty. We started with Zoom. The sound on my laptop was dreadful and everything sounded like it was underwater. Jane and Kirsy sounded like a couple of unintelligable dolphins! Between my old Laptop and a ropey internet connection (Now TV, or “Not, Now TV” as we like to call it in this house), it wasn’t working. I wanted the throw the laptop across the room, cry and/or swear a lot. Obviously, I did neither.

What I wanted to do to my laptop

Eventually, Kirsty, the tech genius,  came up with the idea of doing the meeting with Google Meet. “It is very low tech”, she said. “That’ll suit me just fine, I am low tech”, I said! The rest of the test worked well and we had a chat about what it was like working remotely.

On the afternoon of the presentation I waited nervously for the meeting to start and even said a prayer beforehand. Then all these youthful faces pinged onto the screen. More and more until it was full with 9 boxes and more names listed along the top of the screen of people I could not see.  I am not sure if the prayer helped because I still had problems getting my screen to share my powerpoint. Thankfully Michal (the CEO) talked me through which buttons to press , in which order and we were finally in business.

Not the Artfinder Team – but my screen did look a bit like this

I then had that wierd moment before you start speaking that seemed to stretch on for ever. I looked at my screen. All I could see was my presentation, no faces now, which was odd too. I  took a big breath and began.

OK – I am just going to give you the highlights.

  • In 2006 I started having panic attacks on the motorway – I saw a  couple of (not very good) therapist/hypnotherapists and bought a lot of books on panic attacks.  It did not solve my problem. I avoided motorways.
  • 2012 Minor Car Accident – which led to me developing PTSD & Burn Out (also known as a “Breakdown”). This resulted in hypervigilance/nightmares/flashbacks/inability to concentrate/exhaustion. I found a very good therapist and had EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and during the course of this therapy started painting every day. It was a very slow recovery and it took a year to return to work part time
  • How art has helped me with my recovery / mental health over the years: – I find it calming, restorative, meditative and it boosts my fragile self-esteem. It also improves my concentration & energy levels. It provides a positive focus to my life, I find the colours therapeutic and painting also provides an intellectual challenge as there is a lot of problem-solving in painting. It also provides social connections through blogging & social media

As this was a presentation to Artfinder staff I talked about how important Artfinder has been in my journey into becoming a professional artist.

  • My husband, Séamas, joined the Artfinder site on my behalf in April 2013. He also set up a website a blog for me.
  • My first sale on Artfinder was in June 2013. It was a giclée print of “A Tenby Reflection” for £39
  • I sold my first painting  via Artfinder July 2013
  • In the last 8 years I have sold over 800 works via Artfinder and gained over 6000 followers, which makes me the most followed artist on the site!
  • I left teaching in 2017 and became a full-time artist – I put a lot more time and energy into my painting, my website, blogging and social media sites

Early Work

Painting of Tenby Harbour
Tenby Reflections (2013) My first sale on Artfinder
Perpetual Light (2013)
The Light Refracted
Winter Morning Light on Parkmill
Winter Morning Light on Parkmill
Gower woodland painting
A Slender Light

Gower Paintings

  • Evening on Three Cliffs
    Coloured Sands at Three Cliffs


  • Donegal painting of area around Cloughcor, Arranmore
    Around Cloughcor (Arranmore)
    From Cloughcor To Maghery
    From Cloughcor To Maghery (Arranmore)

Mental Health, the Covid-19 pandemic and other emergencies

  • PTSD – I tend to think of the worse possible outcome to most things at the best of times. I usually have to talk myself down from my initial extreme reaction, but for once in early 2020 I was RIGHT!  This new virus was an end-of-the-world scenario!
  • I kept a diary to help cope with the sense of panic and anxiety I was experiencing and then. I took my dogs for a walk in the woods on my own (Séamas was in Ireland)
  • I tripped and broke my leg and had to wait 5 hours for the emergency services to rescue me. You can read that long story here.
  • I spent 9 days in hospital waiting for an operation to pin my leg.

During my long recovery from this experience, I reflected on the differences between how we all, myself included,  treat physical and mental health issues. With physical health issues there is the physical pain (there was certainly lots of that), the practical difficulties of getting around, frustration at the loss of independence and the physical exhaustion as your body heals. I also discovered that this sort of trauma was easy to talk about. There was a lot of public sympathy & concern from people.

It was a lot easier to deal with than mental health issues. I was delighted to realise that I dealt with the trauma and pain with (mostly) good humour and fortitude – although that wore off a bit when my rehab took a whole lot longer than I was expecting.  I felt mentally sound even if my body wasn’t.

In contrast, when I experienced my mental breakdown, there was a lot of isolation, shame, fear, embarrassment on my part as well as physical exhaustion.  I had always been a tough, independent and reliable person and I hated that my breakdown changed that. I still struggle with accepting my limitations. It was clear that a lot of other people felt sorry for me. That was not easy to bear either.

One of the few positives of the pandemic is that people have been more open about how they have struggled with their mental health. I think that it has shown people that a lot of mental health issues are related to having to bear “unbearable” situations. My huband, Séamas,  says I didn’t have a breakdown down but a break through. My life, as it was, was making me ill and it had to change. During the pandemic that unbearable situation was universal. Everyone had to deal with having our freedoms curtailed, especially the freedom to see our family and friends. Many people people discovered that the joy of doing things with your hands/body such as gardening, yoga, painting, baking saved their sanity. I know that in my darkest hour I was making scones with Séamas! Art continues to keep me sane.

I answered a number of questions from Michal and staff at Artfinder. What came up: Had I painted before the 2012 accident? What can Artfinder do to help people with Mental Health Issues? How do you help someone with mental health issues? Different therapies and medications and how they might work for person and not for another.

The presentation wasn’t recorded, and in a way I am glad about that. I don’t think I would have been so open about my experiences if I thought what I said could be picked over and examined by people who weren’t present at the time. It was a strange situation to give a talk to a group of people I couldn’t really see. When I have given talks before I have had people’s faces and body language to help gauge their reactions to what I was saying. This time I didn’t. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the whole thing afterwards because of this although the staff were all very positive. I hope that my audience got something out of  the experience!

I will finish with a quote from “Anthem” by the Canadian singer and poet, Leonard Cohen.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Spring Tide, Three Cliffs Bay
Spring Tide, Three Cliffs Bay

Read More about

Mental Health Support

EMDR therapy

ArtBeat 1
Artbeat Feature on Artfinder
Posted on 18 Comments

Waiting for the Tide

Painting of Tenby Harbour

Before I visited Tenby, on the Pembroke coast, I had this vague idea that it was something like Barry Island, on the Glamorgan coast near Cardiff. If you have never heard of Barry Island, it was a Victorian holiday destination for day trippers from Cardiff and the South Wales Valleys. It had a “Pleasure Park” with rides and lots of shops selling rock and candy floss and it also had a Butlins holiday camp but the rides and the holiday camp are long gone now. It has a nice beach but its not as popular as it used to be.

Tenby Painting
On Tenby Harbour Beach

Well, Tenby is nothing like that. It’s tasteful, historic, and enduringly popular.  I love Tenby’s real name. That is it’s Welsh name which is “Dinbych-y-pysgod” meaning fortlet of the fish. It still describes the old town well as as it’s solid town walls still survive as well as its harbour. Its a delightful place to visit with pretty Georgian houses and two large beaches.

Tenby has a special place in my heart because in the midst of my PTSD breakdown and recovery I painted a picture of Tenby harbour.

Painting of Tenby Harbour
Tenby reflections (2013)

I was very emotionally fragile at the time and I really I enjoyed painting the pastel colours of the harbour buildings. I get a lot of pleasure from colour. Other people got pleasure from it too because it was one of the very first paintings I sold as a semi-professional artist. The collector who bought it later told me that she was going to redecorate her lounge to match the painting! I was so touched by this. I had so little confidence at the time that it meant a great deal to me. I also sold many prints this painting. As you can see I did many paintings of Tenby Harbour but I eventually moved on to other subject matters and different challenges. I particularly focused on people portraits closer to home in Swansea and paintings of Gower peninsula, closer to home.

So last month, I decided that Tenby was overdue a visit. I had been watching the weather forecast for weeks. Eventually the forecast was for a day of wall-to-wall sunshine.  The only problem was that it was very cold with a bitter wind. Never mind. I wrapped up well with thermals and two pairs of socks and got up early to catch the 7.50 train from Swansea to Tenby, arriving at 9.30.

I had set off early because I like to catch the morning light with its long shadows. I also wanted to see the harbour at high tide with the boats in the harbour. The only problem was that as soon as arrived at the harbour I could see the the sun was in the “wrong place” and most of the boats had been pulled ashore and covered up! The previous times I had visited Tenby was in the summer, later on in the day.

Tenby – sun in “wrong place”

So, I had to wait. So did. I waited in the way I usually do, by moving. I walked and walked. In the end I walked around Tenby for 6  hours, taking photos of the shadows and the people. Despite it being mid winter it was the school mid term break in England (not in wales) and Tenby was full of families, wrapped up, despite the biting wind, and enjoying the sunshine.

I had chips for lunch watched by three beady-eyed seagulls and a chocolate ice-cream. I had to think about that as it was so cold but in the end I gave in had one – it was delicious.  I had intended to catch the 1.40 pm train back to Swansea but i could see that the light was changing and I knew that it was low tide at 4pm so I tried and waited some more. I walked up the habour walked and climbed half way down the steps to take photos of the four or so boats that were in the harbour. It was strange waiting for the tide and light because they eventually changed faster than I thought they would. All of a sudden the tide had retreated far enough for me to walk out into the harbour and take photos of the reflections. Bingo. This was what I was after.

Tenby Harbor
Retreating Tide

And then, almost miraculously the tide revealed the sandbanks on the far side of the harbour, by the end of the harbour wall and I could gingerly climb down some seaweed-covered steps and see the harbour in it’s full glory. I don’t think I took off my fingerless gloves once in Tenby, and I did appreciate the heating on the little train back home. I just made the 4.40 pm train back to Swansea and get home in daylight.

Tenby Harbour at Low Tide
Tenby Harbour at Low Tide
Painting of Tenby Harbour
Waiting for the Tide

My day in Tenby was all about patience and waiting for things beyond my control.  Looking at this, my most recent painting of Tenby harbour I can see how much my work has changed, and hopefully how much I have recovered from those incredibly difficult times back in 2012-13. The painting is much larger and calmer and more confident than any of those I painted before. Large paintings, almost by definition require confidence. The winter tones are less vivid than the summer ones, despite the bright winter sunshine. I will be back for the summer light.

See my coastal paintings for sale here

Posted on 14 Comments

Can we all be artists?

“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” –Pablo Picasso

Children love to paint

Children are hard-wired to play and be creative. They are more naturally arty than their parents appreciate as they are more involved in “process” and than the what end product looks like.  Process art is all about the experience the children have while they’re creating. How many times have you had the experience of admiring a child’s drawing or painting and then  had to ask “Now, what is it meant to be?”  In fact, being creative in this way allows children the chance to explore the world around them, ask questions, and see how things work. What the painting is meant to be is only one part of it.

So why aren’t all adults expert artists? Why do so many teenagers and adults announce “I can’t draw, well, except stick people”? Well, children develop in stages. Starting at the first stage of Self Expression (scribbling) then going through other stages to end up with the desire to see the world around them for what it is and to draw realistically.

  • The scribbling stage – 1 and 1/2 years
  • The Stage of Symbols – 3-4 years
  • Pictures that tell stories – 4-5 years
  • The Landscape –  4 or 5 years
  • The stage of complexity – 9 or 10 years
  • The stage of realism
  • The crisis period The beginning of adolescence

This produces a crisis in many older children and adolescences. They want to create a drawing that looks “real” As a result, they become increasingly conscious of details and proportion in what they are drawing. They become more conscious of the perceived shortcomings of their work. Those that cannot satisfy their need to make their work fit rules of perspective and proportion gradually stop drawing and label themselves as “not artistic”.

But that’s not the end of the story. Creativity often emerges in other areas of life – usually making things with their hands – such as gardening, hairdressing, DIY, sewing, or cooking. I don’t think online gaming counts as creativity, but I could be wrong. Academic research has shown that making things with your own hands is very useful for decreasing stress, relieving anxiety, and modifying depression. As in childhood, it is the process that is important; creative action can function as a natural antidepressant. Five years ago, I found that painting soothed my troubled spirits during my breakdown in and in the midst of PTSD. In fact I cannot go more than a few days without painting before I get “twitchy”. I am   not alone, psychologists have noticed that creativity is often an unexpected side effect of trauma, it even has a name: “Post-traumatic Growth“. Indeed, it often a life crisis such as illness whether physical or mental, or just retirement, that will bring adults back to art.

Art is one of those things that given encouragement and instruction anyone can start. It doesn’t matter what your age is.  Just remember, creativity as all about trying things. Some of them work and some don’t. It doesn’t matter. It’s all process. The point is to try stuff and develop the stuff that you feel “works”.  The irony is that many of the artists of the 20th century stopped trying to make their work look realistic and today’s conceptual artists today almost never pick up a pencil or paint brush yet they are all artists. So, yes we all can be artists. You just have to decide what sort of artist you want to be.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Pablo Picasso

Microsoft Word - Picasso et Sima.doc
Picasso and his pet owl

Find out more about Process Art 



Posted on 7 Comments

Art as “Shared Experience”

I recently came across this article in The Atlantic which really interested me as it was sort of explaining some of the strategies my husband and I have been using in the last few years to promote ourselves as artists. I have often thought of my husband,  Seamas, as a creative director so was very interested by the term they use in this article, Creative Entrepreneur.


To give the reader some background, I had a car crash which led to PTSD and left me at my wit’s end, worried about my future, whether I could return to my job as a teacher and then returning to painting in order to help me cope with the emotional and psychological effects of my PTSD and simply just get through the day. Seamas encouraged me to paint as he knew it was helping me therapeutically. He then noticed my style was changing post PTSD and made encouraging remarks about certain areas to explore. I started building up quite a number of paintings as I painted everyday, all day, and would sometimes have 3-5 paintings per week. Seamas suggested trying to sell some of them via these online galleries he had come across on the internet.

We tried in hope rather than expectation to be honest. We were not sure if anyone would like them or if we were wasting our time. Fortunately we started selling paintings and giclee prints right from the start which was a merciful relief. However, we were still a relatively unknown “commodity”, I had not been to Art College, I did not have a following or a supportive network of artists to call on for support or attendance at exhibitions etc. We had to introduce ourselves to a local and an online community from “out of nowhere”? I was not attached to any Gallery as well, although had featured in a number in the South Wales area.

My husband was left with the dilemma of trying to promote an artist in a way that explained who she was, her work and her inspirations, where she was coming from artistically and so on. How could we connect with many in a short time how could be introduce ourselves and let others into our creative world and somehow be part of the process? Seamas had often talked about the power of telling personal stories, sharing experiences in order to connect with like minded minds.

First he got as many followers as possible on social media, twitter and facebook mainly. Secondly he set up a website on ArtWeb which is linked to over 20,000 other artist’s websites. He started this blog for me to write about my work. We started telling my and then our story. We let others into the creative process. That is how we got to know each other.

We then started blogging, we started writing about the work, the PTSD, our inspirations, we wrote long descriptions about the work to accompany work added to online galleries e.g. Artfinder,  blogged about “Me At Work” we made short videos e.g. about building a gallery in the back garden, all informing artlovers and collectors of the experience we had making or rather “producing” the art, as well as our influences, inspirations, in an effort to make them feel part of this process, this artist’s journey. It may have also helped sell some work we believe although if is difficult to say for definite, to correlate so to speak.

We believe the more an artist can take the artlover on the journey or the more you can share the story around the work, the more they will feel involved with the final work, in short it will mean more to them. They will have invested more, emotionally, into the work. They know more and appreciate more about the work. If they buy the work they often have already started a dialogue, a conversation about the work.

When we meet people at galleries I have exhibited in, people would often have very knowledgeable conversations with us about certain works, where they were painted, how they were familiar with this area, how the work resonated with them because of not only the depiction of this area but in the shared appreciation of this area. We shared a, or bonded over, a love of the area as well as how the painting interpreted this area.

The paintings were becoming more than the paintings. They already had added meaning. The text and words around the paintings provided a neutral space whereby we could meet others and discuss the work and it’s inspirations. The painting was not just our painting anymore. it was more than that. It “belonged” to others out there on the internet, in galleries, it belonged to the collector who had now hung it on their  wall, it belonged to the online gallery who had featured it and loved it because it was one of their favourites.

There was a life for a work beyond the actual painting. In fact there was life for the painting before painting. In the scouting for good locations, the photo shoot, the preparing of suitable images to paint.  All prior to birth.

So from the onset, we have been aware that talking about art, about paintings, the areas that inspired them, the artists that inspired us, what we were trying to communicate all seems to add value to the work. It allows others to be part of. We are of the view that it also helps sell the painting. In the art world the use of words and text is well known and established, especially in conceptual works, where sometimes words are the actual artistic materials just as oil can be for oil painters.

So we have always liked to join words to the final image, the final painting. Words allow one to celebrate the painting, to add to, to enhance, to embellish. If one can write half decent prose to a rural landscape, for example, it deepens the experience we believe. Anyway that is how Seamas and I have been proceeding for the last four years.

Sometimes I had to be convinced but Seamas always had this intuitive sense that this value added creativity counted for something, especially in terms of sales. So back to the article. We think The Atlantic article is  very pertinent in explaining this new role of having to be creative not only in crating art but in marketing and selling it. In their explanation of Art now involving the need to include those “online” in the process of and experience of creating this art and in the final appreciation of it. We add that it was mainly the Artfinder website that allowed this entrepreneurial creativity to work as it is a quite geeky website that allows greater interaction with those who may love or wish to buy your work. Online galleries have also led to the “democratization of taste” moving art from a sometimes elitist curator-led model to a more meritocratic one, perhaps?  Although it seems difficult to be purely non-curator.

“The democratization of taste, abetted by the Web, coincides with the democratization of creativity. The makers have the means to sell, but everybody has the means to make. And everybody’s using them. Everybody seems to fancy himself a writer, a musician, a visual artist. Apple figured this out a long time ago: that the best way to sell us its expensive tools is to convince us that we all have something unique and urgent to express. “Producerism,” we can call this, by analogy with consumerism… And the democratization of taste ensures that no one has the right (or inclination) to tell us when our work is bad…we’re all swapping A-minuses all the time, or, in the language of Facebook, “likes.” It is often said today that the most-successful businesses are those that create experiences rather than products, or create experiences (environments, relationships) around their products.

So we might also say that under producerism, in the age of creative entrepreneurship, producing becomes an experience, even the experience. It becomes a lifestyle, something that is packaged as an experience—and an experience, what’s more, after the contemporary fashion: networked, curated, publicized, fetishized, tweeted, catered, and anything but solitary, anything but private. Among the most notable things about those Web sites that creators now all feel compelled to have is that they tend to present not only the work, not only the creator (which is interesting enough as a cultural fact), but also the creator’s life or lifestyle or process. The customer is being sold, or at least sold on or sold through, a vicarious experience of production.”

It seems that we have caught the zeitgeist in some way over the last few years. We were unaware that others were articulating this, until this article. Today we need to see and read more about the “producer” of the work and often where it is “produced”. When we share photos of me or where I work, they get many more “likes” than the actual works. When we post a painting on facebook we have often observed that the painting when reposted as sold often gets more “likes” than before. People seem to like and applaud success and success stories. They like to be engaged in or part of that story and if an artist has a following over a number of years and those followers have (mostly)  been happy to share the ride to success, then there have been a number of years of followers had emotionally  invested also in the artists journey like “emotional shareholders”.

The art is not alone or isolated, it has been reared in a online community where often others, mainly strangers care for it. How do they care for it? By supporting, commenting, sharing kind words and words of encouragement, by talking about the work to others, by buying work, by retweeting, sharing and so on. They are active parts of the team. The producers thus are not just the artist but the followers as they are part of the production team. They also encourage certain works, in certain areas, and can discourage others, in certain areas. They keep you going when times are lean, in terms of sales and confidence.

Artists do not need to be starving artists in the garret. They can be successful be engaging this burgeoning online family. Many are eager and happy to help promote work if they love the work and in the realisation it is so tough to make a living as an artist.  Artists and those who love art are some of the most supportive people as they realise the heavy odds stacked against the artist. Work often sells through the promotional efforts of this community of supporters and followers. The more an artist shares with them, the more opportunity they get to engage and emotionally invest. They can not only help motivate the overall production, but also of specific types of work (who doesn’t take heed of “likes”?) in a strangely democratic, mass curating. The market also talks back and artist may profit from listening to the advice given.

The artist has moved from one of isolation to embracing a community of like minded others.  It is relationships that partly determines success. It is in engaging the populace not just the elite.








Posted on 5 Comments

PTSD Creates the Need to Paint

How Art helps soothe my soul

I have a mental health condition that I have had to learn to live with, which I can forget about for days at an end when things are going well, but it continues to limit my life and my career both as an artist and as a teacher. I face difficulties because I look and sound reasonably normal in conversation, I can do a lot, like teach 5 lessons in a day or paint a picture over three days. However, I suffer anxiety and I have difficulties with fear-based thoughts. I can also run into “brick walls” energy-wise. I have to have “rest days” in the middle of the week.

I need to sit at home and paint to restore my energies and spirits. The repetitive movement of the hand somehow calms me, as does familiar actions. I have met others who are going through traumas who cut up magazines for collages or build structures to occupy and calm their frayed nerves. I have always painted so this soothes me.

“Passive Smoking”


I am usually pretty shattered by the end of my third day of teaching. I cannot travel far because of limited energy levels and this has limited me to do exhibitions to within a 2 hours driving limit on A roads (I can’t do motorways because of panic attacks).

When I first developed PTSD 4 years ago, I was totally bewildered by the experience. I had been involved in a minor car accident and had briefly lost consciousness. This was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and over a matter of weeks I came apart at the seams in way that that seemed as comprehensive as it was unexpected. Looking back I can see that I had lived under enormous stress in my personal and professional life for many years and an earlier traumatic incident when my dog had been killed on a busy main road provided the “crack in my psyche.”

At different times I shook like a leaf, cried most days, experienced the blackest despair, experienced flashbacks, had nightmares, and became very emotional at anything to do with death or war. I could not bear horror on TV and “The Walking Dead” gave me nightmares after I watched it once. Never again.

I was hyperviligient, I no longer felt safe; every car on the road was coming directly towards me. I flinched at minor accidents (I remember leaping out of my chair when someone dropped a cup on the floor in the staff room), and mis-saw things out the corner of my eyes (I mistook a hoverfly for a zeppelin in the sky).

I also felt utterly and completely exhausted.

Social interactions were very difficult, except with the kindest and most sympathetic people. I avoided people. I remember panicking when I saw a work colleague out in town and hid under a table in a cafe to avoid them!

I found it extremely difficult to trust people and felt very alienated from people who had been friends.

Painting was the only thing that gave me hope. I felt like such a failure and it gave me a tiny measure of achievement. It has been a Godsend and I can honestly say that I cannot live without it.

I remember experiencing utter exhaustion for about a year after I’d had EMDR therapy (which was extremely tiring in itself but thankfully it helped “plug in” the wire in my head that had become unplugged”). The following year I was just exhausted all the time, in the third year I improved to tired all the time and now I have days when I am not tired but I have to careful to marshal my energies wisely.

I went back to teaching after counselling but I could only cope with working three days a week. It has been a tremendous struggle and I was very proud that I managed to keep my job, even if it was only part time.

I have been devastated, recently as I have recently been given notice of redundancy. My union is very helpful and supportive but the future remains very uncertain.  Painting is helping me cope on a day-to-day basis.

The popular perception of PTSD is that you have to be in the army or the emergency services to develop it, but I think that its more common than people realise; years of bullying as a child, rape, domestic abuse, living with an addicted partner/parent, even the distress of nursing a loved through a terminal illness can trigger the condition.

However, that’s not to say that everyone who has had trauma in their life will develop PTSD, I think it depends on how long they have endured stress and their sensitivity as a person. Two people may experience the same event and react differently.

Posted on Leave a comment

Painting like Your Life Depended On It

oil painting of woodlands


Great feature in Walesonline and the Western Mail today on how art therapy is helping me to recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how painting still helps me therapeutically today. I do not know where I would be if it was not for art and painting. Also I am thankful for my husband, Seamas, who runs all the art business side of things, as well as being my agent.

This frees me up and allows me the time to simply paint and nothing else. I paint when not teaching as I need to, it is an essential element of my therapeutic recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a condition that can only be managed and is unlikely to ever return to “normal”. As the article states, it has left me with reduced energy levels and things can threaten to overwhelm me sometimes so I need time out with my oils! 

As I paint so much the paintings obviously started stock piling so my husband decided to try and sell them. He contacted Artfinder and went online there. As we started selling from the start, we have kept going although I would paint regardless and I need to. So there you have it. That’s me. Thanks to you too for all your support, likes, comments, well wishes and friendship. It means a lot to us.


Lopsided Trees Professional quality signed mounted print £45