Sandra Woods
Art despite pain

My motto

Why "Art despite pain"? Originally an amateur nature photographer while working in bioethics, I was struck in 2016 with a rare disease; Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), formerly named Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).

Although CRPS affects mostly my right hand and arm, there are also full-body symptoms because it is both an autoimmune disease and a neuro-inflammatory condition.

These symptoms include a ‘mild cognitive impairment’ (MCI), which developed in 2018, a disability that ended my healthcare career.
Now a volunteer Patient Partner in chronic pain projects across the country, I use my art to raise awareness of CRPS and of chronic pain in general.

I began exploring the world through watercolours in 2021, as a form of movement-therapy for my neuropathic chronic pain - and as brain plasticity training to hopefully prevent any further cognitive decline.

One of my paintings won the inaugural Art Awards of the Canadian Pain Society in 2021, and one of my nature photos finished second with an Honourable Mention in a national photo contest run by The Bateman Foundation the same year. In 2022 one of my watercolour paintings won First Prize in the City of Montréal's Pierrefonds-Roxboro Art Contest, in the Amateur Artist category for Watercolour & Gouache artworks.

By May 2023 my artwork had appeared in more than 20 group exhibitions, with several other group shows already planned for 2023 as well as a solo show in 2024.

My motto – “Art despite pain” – reflects the ways in which my artwork serves to raise awareness of chronic pain, and to show others who live with painful conditions that there can still be beauty and joy in life.