Anna Dyson

Abstract oil on canvas

I have always been ‘different’ and never knew why. I was bullied at school, challenged academically, awkward socially and physically - never ‘fitting into’ a world where everything seemed easier for others. However I always loved art and touch, and being especially drawn to colour. Winning a school poster competition as my colours were beautifully realistic was a proud and unexpected moment. Despite poor academic achievements I wanted to study art and was delighted to be offered a place at college solely on the strength of my sense of colour. I sadly had to leave after the first year as I wasn’t fulfilling written requirements and was told I lacked creative ability. A real blow to my self-confidence stopped me painting for three decades. However, in 2012 my life changed completely. I separated from my husband and started rebuilding my social network. I needed to regain my self-esteem and courses at Hilcroft Women’s Residential College, Surbiton offered just that - and offering also courses on Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. These resonated with me as I had always been clumsy and uncoordinated, and was missing words to make sentences complete and mixing up number sequences. I signed up, attending also a class called Dyslexia , Dyspraxia and Creativity. That course was another turning point in my life as I was in a completely non-judgemental and supportive environment. One of the tasks was to draw and paint a timed section of an object. I chose a flower. Working against the clock meant I had no time for self-criticism. The end-of-course feedback was incredibly positive and I became very emotional. I realised I had wasted 30 years not painting... and understood now that my hidden difficulties were the causes of my so-called failures. I attended a workshop exploring our 7 chakras focusing on the sacral (orange ) chakra. Inspired by the flow and folds of beautiful orange chiffon dresses displayed - I wanted to paint. Once home I put the paint straight on the canvas without first mixing it and used a big brush. The paint began to flow and I was absorbed and at one with my work, then surprised by the explosion of colour I produced. My innate creativity had reawakened. I started to paint even more and the colours became brighter. My kitchen floor became my studio and my house filled with paintings which took several months to dry. I shared my art on social media. After attending a Syncholistic Potency workshop I created my own Facebook page and joined a local art group - ‘Intuitive Oils’ was born. I sold my first 2 paintings at a charity exhibition. I was also diagnosed with Irlen syndrome which causes extreme difficulty reading printed words. I threw away my books and turned to audio books. Bizarrely, as my eyesight for text deteriorated, my ability to paint improved! Finally in 2017 I found the missing piece of my puzzle after meeting Sheena from Fastminds - an ADHD support group in Kingston. At the age of 52 I was diagnosed with ADHD. This diagnosis came about as life had become increasingly difficult and wasn’t getting any better or easier. I was becoming increasingly isolated and lonely. My ADHD diagnosis was a complete surprise to me - but making sense to those in my life. I truly believe that my disabilities gave me the gift of creativity and enhanced it. My creative brain allowed me to take the images from my paintings and transfer them to other media so I began creating bags, cushions, leggings, ties and cards. The leggings came first as I have always loved original colourful clothing. Whilst displaying my art at fairs I noticed that everyone interpreted my paintings uniquely - causing at times dramatic, emotional reactions in people. Some have teared up as they were reminded of or felt connected to loved ones who had passed. I started to think that each painting was for a particular individual so decided that the painting would remain untitled to allow the buyer ownership of their title. Very recently a man attending my exhibition looked at one of my paintings and suddenly started to cry, telling me that this was a first for him and he was so moved he had to buy it. Displaying last year at psychic fairs, I was told I should create a pack of oracle cards using images from my paintings. Psychic medium Sarah Pickles is now working with me to this end. We launch the cards in October at The Mind Body Soul Experience. My paintings were also featured in the ‘The Metro’ as part of a photo shoot. In addition, I have a range of my own greeting cards to sell online and at fairs courtesy of a lovely new company ‘Weallsendcards’. My art has completely allowed me a new lease of life and I am so grateful to have rediscovered it. I have finally found a way I can express the real me and be proud of who I am and what I do. No need to hide anymore or try and fit in. I have always wanted to make a difference to people’s lives and can do that through my art by adding colour to their homes and whatever experience they gain from seeing the paintings. I am really proud to have just had my first solo exhibition after just over 2 years of painting. It has not been an easy journey for me and I still need a lot of help along the way. At times I have so nearly given up but have been encouraged by lovely supportive friends and the powerful effect my paintings have on people. I hope my story will help people follow their dreams in spite of challenges and obstacles encountered along the way.

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