For as long as I can remember, I have gone to art to cope with pain and loss. I began drawing as a child while in the hospital recovering from plastic surgery. By the time I was 21, I had had about 25 surgeries. I have multiple amputations to my fingers and toes, half of a right foot, my body covered in skin graph scars and a childhood filled with odd stares from strangers. What “happened” to me had nothing to do with a car accident or a fire, I had bacterial meningitis as a baby.
Unfortunately, about 25 years later, I found myself back in the hospital drawing again. This time I was pregnant and on bed-rest, doing sketches in a hospital bed so I could to keep myself from running as fast as I could away from the hospital.
It didn’t take long for Jonas’ loss to turn me back to my artwork to cope. The butterfly symbol was used in the hospital to represent the loss of a baby, so, after a few sketches of butterflies, I began to paint portraits with butterflies collaged behind them. My portraits have always been tightly painted with bold colors. I began using collage as a background so I could include symbols that related to the story I was painting.
My first Butterfly Portrait painting was of two babies, my niece and nephew; our baby was only a few weeks apart from them. That painting started my series, “Butterfly Portraits: Paintings Dedicated to Loss.” This series has resonated amazingly with people all over the country. Every painting represents a story of loss. It is amazing that our son’s loss I have been able to give back to families and charities all over the country.
At six-years old, my hands were my obstacles, now they are my blessing. My scars are my story and I am proud of them. I embrace the curious stares of strangers. Most of all, I hope they stare at my art and know I am following my dreams.
Life is what you make of it. Embrace it and the chances you get to encourage someone else’s life for the better.
You can see more of Samantha’s work by visiting her website:
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