Back to the canvas

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It’s been about three months since Opp artist Toby Hollinghead was involved in a near-fatal car crash, but she’s not letting her recovery slow her down from a love of painting.

Hollinghead continues to create her unique artistic expressions, and even plans to make a public appearance at a ladies conference later this month.

“I’ve been slowly able to get back into painting, and I’ll be doing a ladies conference in Opp at the Opine Assembly of God church on Aug. 28. I’m going to be doing an art presentation, and also give a talk there.”

Currently, Hollinghead does not have the full ability to walk and has to use a wheelchair. She is also no longer able to work at her studio, but has instead set up an easel and work station in her living room, where she continues to practice her craft.

“My husband (Wayne) has set my easel up in the living room and helped bring my paints into the house,” she said. “He sometimes has to help me get things together. It probably takes about three times as long to do a painting now as when I was painting before the crash, but I’m thankful that I can still do it at all.”

About a month following the accident, Hollinghead painted a picture of a woman hugging an angel, titling it: “Safe in the Arms of the Lord.” She has produced several pieces since then, including a piece called “Under the Altar and Above the Clouds” and a painting of flowers outside during a rainy day, titled “Rainy Day Comfort.”

“It was raining that day and I was inspired to do the painting,” she said. “Sometimes my best ideas come from a sudden thought like that.”

One common theme in Hollinghead’s art is spirituality, and she believes it was that same spirituality that helped her get through the hard times immediately following the accident.

“I know 110 percent that it was God who pulled me through,” she said.

Hollinghead admitted that sometimes the mental anguish was just as strong as any physical pain.

“I had never been in any trauma like this before,” she said. “You deal with a lot in your mind after something like this. There were a lot of sleepless nights, and some things that your mind can’t quite wrap around. You go through flashbacks sometimes — the memories, the sounds, the lights. It’s still going to take a while to heal from that.”

As far as physical healing goes, Hollinghead said she is doing well. She no longer needs to wear braces on her arms, and is occasionally able to get out of her wheelchair and use a walker.

“I hope to get back to 100 percent, but even if I limp, I’ll still praise the Lord,” she said. “I’m still seeing a few doctors and getting X-rays, and slowly regaining my balance and taking a few steps.”

Hollinghead added that the community showed their support in ways that touched her heart.

“There was such an outpouring of goodwill and sympathy, and I appreciate it so much,” she said. “I found out that several churches all over the county were making prayer chains, and individual people were praying for me as well.

“I believe in the power of prayer, and know that all that support will help me get through this.”