Anderson Artists Guild member Patricia Walker majored in interior design at Memphis State University and worked as an interior decorator at Carpet Fashions in Anderson. She enjoyed the work, but it wasn’t her passion. “I had more of a passion for the interior of people’s hearts than people’s houses,” she said.
Her desire to help those who had suffered traumas led her to visit the local jail and then a prison and from there she ran a halfway house for women coming out of prison to provide continuing support. Seeing the link to prison and addiction and the lack of treatment in the Anderson area for women, she went on to help start Shalom Treatment Center, a faith-based long-term women's drug and alcohol treatment program in Belton. She worked there for five years and remains on the board. “I wanted to follow women to help change the direction of their lives,” she said. “I saw that treatment took more than 10 or 28 days.”
In 2016, Walker’s life was upended with a diagnosis of breast cancer. And just one month after completing radiation treatment came another shock—a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, followed by chemotherapy and more radiation.
During this time, she attended a workshop on alcohol ink, which ignited a new passion and provided a much-needed distraction. “It was really good for me to have something creative to do,” she said.
But it took a number of classes to get a handle on the medium and gain confidence. A turning point came with a year-long online class and encouragement from a strong alcohol ink community on Facebook. She has also taken classes on painting pets and on painting water.
She relishes the vibrancy of the colors of alcohol ink. “The colors have such amazing possibilities,” she said. “You can put pure black down and take some canned air and blow it, and it’s amazing the colors that will come out of that.” She also likes the flexibility since you can reactivate the alcohol to make changes. On the down side, she said, it’s a difficult medium to control, especially for realistic painting.
Most importantly, though, “it’s a lot of fun,” she said.