‘I try not to let it limit me’: N.S. artist discovers love of painting after Parkinson’s diagnosis
Sheri Ostrynski has been living with Parkinson’s disease since the first symptoms showed up more than 12 years ago.
"I couldn't swing my arm when I walked. I had to actually force it,” she says.
Ostrynski takes four separate medications every three hours to help keep the neurodegenerative disease in check. She says her biggest challenges come in the form of everyday tasks.
"Getting dressed. Drying my hair. Stuff like that,” she says. “Little, small movements are harder than big movements.”
Ostrynski has recently discovered her talent for painting and creates as many as four works of art each week. It’s a hobby she excels at, despite the fact that painting requires fine motor skills.
“It relaxes me. I don't know how to explain it. I just can.”
When her tremors worsen while she paints, Ostrynski incorporates the movement.
"I try not to let it limit me,” she says. "Sometimes I'll start shaking, but maybe I'm doing waves. So it'll work for me!”
Her husband, Bob Shaw, started volunteering with Parkinson Canada at the time of her diagnosis. Now, he’s the Atlantic region's managing director.
"It's not unusual for people who live with Parkinson's to find a channel to invest their energy,” he says. "I think the thing that resonates for me is the vibrancy, the colours, the energy and the optimism of her work.”
On Wednesday, the pair spent their day moving and selecting work for Ostrynski’s first-ever public showing.
Ostrynski is one of dozens of artists that will showcase their talents at the 5th annual Art of Disability at Dartmouth's Alderney Landing on Thursday.
“You know, hopefully Sheri's an inspiration, and provides hope and optimism to other people that might otherwise have the glass half empty,” Shaw says. “Sheri's is always half full."
The 5th annual Art of Disability is hosted by Independent Living Nova Scotia and will also feature dancers, poets and musicians. Admission is free, and events will kick off as early as 10 a.m.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jayson Baxter.