By Rebecca Drew
MEET the successful female entrepreneur whose life changed in an instant when the boot of her SUV fell on her head in a supermarket car park and saw her transform into an artist overnight.
Before her accident in 2011, Heather Thompson from Seattle, Washington, USA was at the height of her career as a business strategist, she was married and had a two-year old daughter.
Heather was grocery shopping when the boot of her SUV crashed onto her head, she describes the aftermath as a walk into the unknown.
“In between business trips, I went to Costco to get a bag of cat food and while loading groceries, the hatch of my SUV suddenly dropped on my head,” said Heather.
“Although I never lost consciousness, my life changed in an instant, I had no idea how long my recovery would take, no one does really.
“At first, they said two weeks, then two months and then up to a year, no one is prepared for such a walk into the unknown.”
A few months after Heather suffered her head injury, her neighbour Mac bought her flowers to encourage her to start painting. When she first tried it, miraculously Heather realised that she could paint with ease. Heather is an acquired savant.
“I honestly thought Mac was crazy, because I was not an artist before the accident,” she explained.
“In fact, I loved to look at paintings, because artists could express things that I found unimaginable. Then, with an abundance of courage one day, I gave it a try.
“Quickly, I discovered that my hands simply knew what to do when given colours and white space, it was as easy as breathing.
“This is what it means to be an acquired savant, I am self-taught and I have never taken an art class, I simply sat on the floor of the art store and allowed my hands to explore what felt right.”
Many acquired savants find that their newly acquired skill has led to a ‘trade-off’ between that and language and social skills acquisition but fortunately for Heather she hasn’t experienced this, making her what specialist Dr Darold Treffert calls ‘accidental genius’.
“I am very fortunate that I do not have many of the trade-offs that go with Acquired Savantism, Dr Treffert calls this scenario, Accidental Genius,” she added.
“My journey through art continues to heal me and I feel called to help others discover the profound healing power of art which is something that I only discovered by accident.
“Almost all of my abstract paintings are done with my fingers or a palate knife, the mixed media pieces are completed with tiny brushes.”
Heather is no longer married and sees every painting she creates as an adventure and credits art for aiding her healing process.
“I am a healing artist, I am a mother and I am divorced now,” she said.
“I no longer live in the city as I choose to live among the trees and natural beauty that my eyes used to take for granted.
“If there is one thing that I know for sure, God is always with each of us, pouring out his grace especially in times of struggle, art is prayer, art is ministry, art heals.
“Each painting is an adventure, a walk into the woods towards an unknown ending.”
For more information and to see more of Heather’s work, see www.bluephoenixart.com