Living with Art and Life Challenges
Clearwater artist Jane Walker found herself forced to cope with a major disability that started in her adult life. As Multiple Sclerosis forced her to seek a different career, she found the inner strength to live with art and life challenges. The following is a transcript of her view of life.
Disability Brings Creativity Changes
Well, I don’t really have any formal art training. My education is actually in science; biology, medicine. For several years, I worked as a medical technologist in a hospital lab.
As my disability with my MS progressed, I became less able to do the work that I was hired to do in the lab. I decided I needed to explore other avenues to further my talents. So, I decided that art could possibly be for me.
When I saw someone’s watercolor that I really admired, I knew right away that watercolor was for me and where I belonged. I began to take classes both in Illinois and here in Florida at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.
Attitude is Altitude
I think the most important thing is your attitude. I have a motto that goes ‘Attitude is Altitude’ and I live by that every day because you have to develop a strong attitude and a positive attitude that this isn’t going to be the end of your life. This is not going to kill you. This is not going to take away from making something of your life and using your skills that you have.
I am a naturally born right-handed person. But, the MS began to creep into my hand, especially my right hand. I’m kind of ambidextrous anyway. So, I decided that I would teach myself to paint with my left hand, which I did. So, now I am ambidextrous. I can paint with both hands, but I primarily paint with my left hand now.
Success of Art and Life Challenges
This year has been a really banner year for me because I won first place at the Dunedin Student – Member Show this past spring. And then, my other goal has always been involving with the Florida Water Color Society, which is the state-wide organization for watercolor to improve and promote the medium.
So, I’ve been a member of the Florida Watercolor Society for many years. Your goal is to get accepted three times into different shows. And, once you achieve your third time, you become what is called a signature member, which means that the Society allows you to, after your signature on your paintings, you can write the initials ‘FWS’, standing, of course, for Florida Watercolor Society. So that people who see your paintings and see your signature then know that you have achieved this goal. It’s really a big deal in the art world.
I’m a big nature person and loved hiking and camping and being outdoors. So, I became less and less able to do that. Therefore, a lot of my inspiration for my art comes from nature and the natural world.
I found ways to express my love for nature with my art rather than going out into it.
It’s an escape. The whole world goes away when I paint. I don’t think about anything except concentrating on what I’m doing. And, I listen to music and the rest of the world completely goes away.
So, it’s an escape in a lot of ways.
– Jane Walker –