Today we’d like to introduce you to Brett Walden.
Hi Brett, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I was born and raised in Georgia and after I graduated from college, I decided to relocate to Jacksonville, FL.
While in college, I found a passion for working with children with varying disabilities so when I started working here, the only option, in my opinion, was to work in the education field. I have been able to work with children diagnosed with autism for almost twelve years.
I started off working as a teacher and then as an administrator for almost ten years. My goal was to provide a learning environment that allowed every child a way to succeed. Autism became my fascination and motivation. I found that they were having a hard time creating their voice within the community.
More recently, mental health became my driving force to provide a safe space for children of all learning abilities. In 2018, my world flipped upside down when my partner for almost 11 years passed away. He took his life after a long battle with mental health struggles. He was an artist and very creative so I wanted to continue his legacy. I started painting shortly after he passed to help my own mental health. I needed an outlet to express how I was feeling and get all the built-up emotions out.
My art became a driving force to share with the community. Mental health, art, and special education are so important to me and have given me this opportunity for personal growth. I love sharing my story and educating the community. Over the past three years, I have had the absolute pleasure of sharing my artwork in local magazines, art shows, and my own solo shows.
I have met incredible individuals that have shared their stories with me and given me the opportunity of creating personalized paintings for them.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
As you can imagine, it has not been a smooth road. When my partner passed, I had to figure out who I was as an individual. I was in a relationship for so long that I knew who I was with my partner but not on my own. I needed to set out on a personal growth journey and figure out what defined me.
Suicide is a hard topic to discuss with people but it needs to be discussed. As a community, we need to talk about the challenges that we face in our day-to-day lives. When my partner passed, his pain was not gone but distributed amongst everyone that loved him.
So I had to rebuild myself and art became my drive. I needed to express myself. I needed to take all the hurt, sadness, anger, and guilt that I was feeling inside and get it onto a canvas.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I currently work with and assist families of children on the autism spectrum. I provide social and support groups for the autism community on a weekly basis. But my artwork is what I choose to do on my personal time. My paintings have evolved over the years, like most artists, and I find myself always trying new styles.
I enjoy using acrylics, spray paint, oils, and sometimes watercolor. I identify as an abstract artist because I want people to look at my artwork and create their own ideas and feelings. I want my art to mean something when a person sees it. I would say that I am most known for my larger abstract paintings.
In November 2021, I hosted my first solo show and it was a collection of paintings that shared my story. I am so proud of that collection. It was a defining moment for me and I knew that I wanted to continue to showcase the topic of mental health for myself and those I loved.
How do you define success?
After years of personal growth and learning who I am as a person, I define success as happiness. I want to do things that I love. I want to support, educate, and learn from the community around me.
As long as I am happy as an artist and educator, I have what I need in my life.
- Instagram: @brett1584
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artbybrettw