I love drawing and painting. I know little about art and am quite unschooled. I have been called a naÃ¯ve artist with a graphic, expressionistic style. In childhood I looked out on wet days and saw dreary houses around the green. In my mind’s eye I painted them all the colours of the rainbow and filled the gardens with flowers and shrubs. Behind the rain clouds was a land of colour and music. It was a world I wanted to be part of. My first art teacher in secondary school, who inspired and encouraged me died of a brain tumour when I was 11. Our second art teacher was killed in a car crash when I was 12. After that we had no tutoring until 5th form when some of us were helped through GCE Art by an encouraging art student. I love trying to express myself in art, poetry, writing, music and craftwork. I began my serious art life at 18 with pen, brush and coloured inks, illustrating such things as Stravinsky’s Firebird ballet or Hans Anderson’s The Nightingale or the Sun King from Greek mythology. Then I was in a psychiatric hospital for several years. All my art work was ripped up by a disturbed woman. In hospital and for several years after leaving it I was unable to paint or draw. Then, aged 27, I was watching my daughter draw and colour with wax crayons and I was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to draw and paint again. I bought paint but couldn’t afford brushes so for months I painted with my fingers. One day an elderly art professor Marian Bokusz (Polish) saw some pictures I had started doing and he encouraged and encouraged me to paint and attend his Saturday afternoon sessions. Most of the pictures I did then were depressing. I drew pictures of abused children, of patients in hospital, of a patient who had ECT (electro convulsive therapy, of which I had more than 40 doses) I painted people who were mad, or hungry, or afraid. I did drawings of the abuse I and my family had suffered at the hand of our step-father. in 1996, after two failed marriages and the disappointment of not being able to attend a follow up course at Oxford where I had completed a two year English course, I felt despair and ended again in hospital. For about 12 years I was totally unable to draw or paint – but I did write poetry. I looked over the stash of pictures in the attic and thought how wretched and miserable my work was. “Who on earth would want to hang such wretched pictures on their walls: homeless people, broken people, the depressed, etc” I said to myself. I decided then that if I ever painted again I’d paint inspiring, uplifting, colourful pictures. I wanted to paint pleasant pictures because there is so much misery in the world and I don’t want to add to it. I feel good when I draw or paint. I feel its the only thing I can do. One doesn’t have to be a great Master to be a fulfilled artist. its a wonderful feeling to have expressed yourself reasonably well – to feel satisfaction. it’s also frustrating to feel what you’ve done hasn’t hit the mark. I aim to be – no, I strive to be a good enough artist. With each picture I climb another rung on a ladder to heaven. I struggle to draw. it doesn’t come naturally. I also feel I ruin many a drawing by using the wrong colours. I want my outlines to flow and my colours to sing. My pictures of abstractified trees are more about making pleasing shapes and colours than about drawing trees. Since I joined ARTSPACE I have become aware of colour in a new way. I used to choose colours by instinct, but now I am learning what colour goes well with what by working it out. I love orange for its warmth and verve. I like orange and cerise pink with lemon. I like striking blue backgrounds – ultra marine, cerulean, or Prussian blue. They give depth to the picture.. I would eat colours if I could because I feel hungry for them. Art has become a way to give something back. I give my art away if people appreciate it. When I did my depressing art I wanted to show people what we are doing to each other. Now I feel I want to soothe and inspire people. I want to communicate the joy and happiness painting gives me. I feel at peace when painting. It’s what I should be doing. We are surrounded by colours, patterns, landscape, people. I want myself and others to feel part of the picture, to feel a sense of belonging to a picture. In the future I would like to reach more people and make prints and cards. I would like to publish the children’s stories I’ve written and Illustrated. I’d also like to feel part of the art world and have more of my pictures hanging on peoples walls.