It was 2006, my daughter Emily was 6yrs old. She has autism and lost all of her speech and communication skills before 18mths old, then regressed into a world of her own. I was lying on her bedroom floor one day, she crawled up on my back and watched me draw on her magnadoodle. I had captured her attention for the first time in her life and I knew then I was on to something. I had never painted in my life but I knew she liked color and a lot of it so I set out to create images she might be interested in to get her attention…..It worked. I painted on canvas for the first time when i was 39 (I am 54 now), all the things that interested her. I started at the kitchen table transposing paper images to the canvas I worked on. She would runover to the table and watch me. One day Emily pointed to something on the paper I had drawn on as if to ask me where it was going to go on the canvas and I cried my eyes out with joy. I painted about our trip to the supermarket and things in her world. I drew her in by entering her world. We played eye spy with my art and then one day I taught her how to point on cue and make eye contact. I knew I had gotten her back and I have never had a more joyous moment in my life. I took my art to her school to share with her class thinking they might enjoy it as well. The principal saw me carrying the art down the hall and stopped me. She asked me if I had created them and asked me to spread them out on the floor leaning the artwork up against the wall so she could view them. She loved them, each and every one of them. It was the first time anyone else had seen my new found talent. She asked me if I would share them with the whole school and perhaps speak a few words about my daughter to them. One week later I displayed my art for the first time in public and spoke in front of an audience of 100 or more children and adults. With TV cameras (WFMY-News 2) in the clerestory of Emily’s school I gave my very first speech about autism. From there I went on to create and speak more to the public about Emily and her disorder but instead of being sad about it I left people with a positive message about autism using my art to show the world, Emily’s world.
In 2007 Energizer Corp, named me one of the top ten finalists in the United States in the Energizer Hall Of fame contest for the use of my art in a positive way to heal my daughter and show the world the beautiful side of autism. I have been on Channel 2 WFMY-News many times since then and have had many articles written about Emily and I. I have exhibited my art in such places as Sci-Works museum, Davidson College, Wake Forest Baptist Medical center as well as many ,many other places. I started painting gourd bird houses last year because I ran out of space in my house with all the canvas works I have created 🙂 now i use the ceiling to hang the gourds so i have plenty of room for them :-)I make something out of nothing and that in itself is the best gift of all. I love to create, not a minute goes by that I don’t think about making something so my mind never rests. Thank you for taking time to read about me 🙂 You can find my very first children’s eBook called “The Big Adventure of the Little Leaf ” on Amazon.com, and iTunes.
will appear in an upcoming Special Issue!