About Me as an Artist

Sculpture of rock designsMy name is Sandra Petersen. I am an artist, composer, musician, Educational Therapist 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.  Passionately creative, music and painting have been the focus of my creative life ever since.

"While I was bringing up three children, Christina 7, Brett 6, Michael 4years old, I was involved in a motor accident which severely disabled me both physically and perceptually. This major crisis came in the form of a huge sand truck which smashed into my station wagon, wiping it out and nearly wiping out me!  Two 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 my speech, balance, coordination and memory.  Further work by an Osteopath in the cranial field restored my ability to focus my eyes so I could read again.  This enabled me to further my studies in fine arts, as half of my B.Ed.A.P.D..  Pain management is a skill practiced daily."

"I was determined however to recover all my faculties.  In the process of rehabilitating myself, I learned a great deal about the theory and practice of treating brain injury. For a period of 8 years, as an Educational Therapist, I conducted classes and workshops called "Overcome Learning Difficulties", in my Ipswich and 2 Brisbane clinics, assisted by my staff of trained teachers, and netweork of caring professionals.  Children and adults who had suffered mild stroke or neurological deficit, with this teamwork, were able to regain their former potential and more.  This experience has added greatly to my method and practice both as a musician, art teacher and classroom teacher."

She was amazed at how this liberated her students into being more productive, focused, creative, and working at higher levels than before.  This brought immense satisfaction to students who never imagined themselves capable of such improvements.  Sandra, as teacher and Educational Therapist at her Brisbane and Ipswich clinics, discovered the gift of motivating others.  Professional Development for teachers in state and private schools in this specialist area, was in great demand while she lived first in Ipswich, then in Brisbane.

Art Background:
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. Being very sick as a young child with many seizures, art was her main activity in bed. Beatrice Potter's books delicately illustrated were read to her nightly. She copied the pictures to learn about colour mixing and form.

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 3D.  Her ancient bike would be the main form of transport to the beach eight miles away on hilly gravel roads to bring her to her favourite subject, 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 reaching beyond the horizon.

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 often powerful 200 klm hour winds, which ripped up houses, seacraft, trees and animals into their clockwise frenzies.  That awe and wonder of the power of Nature, 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.

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 for stone sculpture projects at the Sunshine Coast and Maleny. This passion for stone has been increased by exploring Tasmania’s rugged unspoilt coastlines and wilderness areas.

Further art studies at the Famous Artist School America developed a passion for composition, elements and principles of design as a visual language needing no words. At Griffith University Brisbane, Dr. Alan Cunningham extended her visual art experience to include pastel work. This was explored at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, where she learnt pastel making, pastel techniques, and using ply background.

Present Art Focus:

Now Sandra is a full time artist learning traditional tempera pastel techniques from the famous Jonathan Bowden, an Impressionist pastel painter.  Since 2009 she has been exhibiting with the Launceston Art Society since 2009, at Eskleigh and Entally House, was short listed for the Australia wide AAA exhibition in Sydney 2012, won a Regional Arts Grant for 2013 which culminated in her exhibition of “Earth Designs” March 2013 at the Northern Club Launceston.  Shortlisted for the Tasmanian Women Artiists "Material Woman" theme, "Dance of Life", Sandra is one of 45 women chosen for this statewide tour during 2013 and 2014.  Another solo exhibition will be held at Windsor Park Gallery Launceston in September 2013.