Sandra Petersen returns to her first love - rugged coast lines and wild weather.

My name is Sandra Petersen. I am an artist, composer, musician, Brain Gym Coach and teacher.

“My insights into both art and brain injury began very young. When eighteen months old, I was diagnosed with epilepsy which proved to be treatable with specialised nutrition. After a childhood spent mostly painting, drawing, learning piano, a variety of other instruments and appreciating nature, I was accepted, at the age of 17 by the Qld Conservatorium of music to study opera singing. In parallel with this I was offered an art teacher’s scholarship and a music teaching scholarship by Education Queensland. Passionately creative, music and painting have been the focus of my creative life ever since.”

While I was bringing up three children, 7, 6, 4years old, I was involved in a motor accident which severely disabled me both physically and perceptually.
I was determined however to recover all my faculties, and in the process of rehabilitating myself I learned a great deal about the theory and practice of treating brain injury. This experience has added greatly to my method and practice both as a musician and as an art teacher”. For a period of 7 years, I conducted classes and workshops in schools and my clinics in Ipswich and Brisbane as an Educational Therapist, overcoming learning difficulties.

Queensland born Sandra’s earliest memories of creating art were waiting for her mother, who would predictably produce crayons and coloured pencils and paper from her purse to keep her occupied while she taled to friends. Being very sick as a young child with seizures, bronchial asthma and diabetes, art was her main activity in bed. Beatrice Potter's books, delicately illustrated, were read to her nightly. She copied the colour mixing and drawings.

Library books on Rembrandt, whose faces emerged out of darkness, Impressionist painting with colours alive and vibrant even in shadows, Vincent van Gogh's brushstrokes that suggested wind currents in atmospheric skies and over fields, taught her how to capture movement and form. Her bike was transport to her beloved Sarina Beach headland and Inlet. There she puzzled out perspective, how to render being on top of a cliff looking down on foaming seas with trees clinging to the cliff face, and the sense of expansive skies.

Fisherman’s knowledge as seen in clouds and eddies, were taught by her sea faring Grandfather Hans Christian Petersen. Cyclones every summer were awesome as they stimulated king tides and powerful 200 klm hour winds which ripped up houses, seacraft, trees and animals into their clockwise frenzies. That wonder has remained within her all her life.

After her teachers college studies at Kelvin Grove Brisbane she began art teaching in Bremer High School Ipswich, becoming art Head of Department, and privately teaching at her home in Brassal, Ipswich. She also taught art at Ipswich T.A.F.E., organised art exhibitions for her students and performed art demonstrations for public audiences. Holiday art classes everywhere she lived, were popular, and attended with enthusiastic students.

A major crisis when her children were small came in the form of a huge sand truck which smashed into her station wagon, wiping it out and nearly wiping out Sandra. Spinal fractures, internal bleeding compounded with head injuries and more unwelcome acquired brain injury, brought about loss of mobility and speech with severe pain. Eight long years of rehabilitation, prayerful searching, diligent practice of brain therapy by Doman and Delacato and two Commonwealth rehabilitation courses restored her speech, balance, coordination and memory. Further work by an Osteopath in the cranial field restored her ability to focus her eyes so she could read again and further her studies in fine arts as part of her B.Ed.A.P.D., completed with distinctions.

This welcome improvement empowered her to make the most of her creative opportunities and lifestyle. She could now safely drive a car, read road signs and maps. Her teaching branched into overcoming learning difficulties, utilizing her personal experiences, combined with her Brain Gym training. She was amazed at how this liberated her students into being more productive, focused, creative, and working at higher levels than before.

Public sculptures in Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, Kowanyama, Woodridge State School at Logan in Queensland, have involved her keen students and brought much media attention both in print and television. Warren Fraser, Master Stone Mason, recommended that she attend the Gateway Stone Mason’s College of T.A.F.E.. They combined skills for stone sculpture projects at the Sunshine Coast and Maleny. This passion for stone has been further enhanced by exploring Tasmania’s rugged unspoilt coastlines and working on her own garden, recreating them using cast stone techniques.

Art studies at the Famous Artist School in America, developed keen awareness for composition, elements and principles of design as a visual language. At Griffith University Brisbane, during her B.Ed.A.P.D., Dr. Alan Cunningham introduced her to pastel work. At the University of Southern Queensland, Amanda Townsend taught her pastel making.

Now Sandra is a full time artist learning traditional tempera pastel techniques from Jonathan Bowden, and the science of colour and painting techniques with Graeme Whittle . Since 2009 she has been exhibiting with the Launceston Art Society, at Eskleigh and Entally House, was short listed for the AAA exhibition in Sydney 2012, won two Regional Arts Grant for 2012 and 2014 which culminated in her exhibition of “Earth Designs” March 2013, and Queenstown’s LARQ residency with Raymond Arnold September 2014 studying West Coast Psychology.

Now Sandra is studying print making with Dallas Richardson at Inveresk TAFE. Etchngs, lino cuts and woodcuts have subjects such as the wild West Coast rock formations, lichen, Roaring Forties, portraits, animals, patterns of water eddies and movement in clouds indicating winds.  This is a return to the foundations of her childhood spent at Sarina Beach fishing with her Dad and Grandad, sensitive to weather, ocean life seen from a row boat, food fresh from the ocean and creating art again from cliff tops and unspoilt beaches.