Sequim artist switches hands, finds new goals after stroke

Sequim artist switches hands, finds new goals after stroke

SEQUIM — Following a tragic event and a simple act of kindness, Linda Stadtmiller, 68, knew she couldn’t give up her passion.

For more than 25 years, Stadtmiller painted professionally, most recently working in acrylics and mixed media. On Memorial Day 2015, she almost lost her ability to paint.

Stadtmiller was with her husband, Leonard, cleaning their home while they readied to replace the flooring, when without warning, she collapsed.

“My right carotid artery was blocked in my neck,” she said.

“I remember waking up in the ambulance on my way to Swedish [Medical Center] and they were talking about the traffic.”

She’d had a stroke.

The next few days were a blur.

Stadtmiller spent 10 days in the hospital before being admitted to an intense rehab department where she’d spend almost a whole month learning basic functions again after losing most function in her left arm and having only limited mobility in her left leg.

“It took two people to get me in and out of bed,” she said. “I needed to relearn everything.

“Rehab was three-to-five hours a day learning to take a shower, get dressed, walk. It’s the things you take for granted.”

Her second day in physical rehab, Stadtmiller was handed a business card of sorts.

It was a postcard with art by John Tardif of Seattle with his story on the back. He was an architect until he had a stoke at the age of 46.

Although he had never painted before, he took it up and now works in watercolor, oils and pastels.

Tardif visits stroke victims such as Stadtmiller in the hospital to encourage them.

Her first thought after reading the card, she said, was, “I’m not going to stop.”

And she hasn’t.

A lifelong lefty, Stadtmiller began practicing using her right hand by drawing basic circles and squares.

“I’m not ambidextrous like my husband and son [Allen],” she said. “We live pretty much in a right-handed society.”

Through hard work and perseverance, Stadtmiller learned she’s a lot more versatile than she ever believed.

“I don’t give up so easily either,” she said.

Even though she was confined to a wheelchair at first, Stadtmiller returned to her home gallery/studio in July 2015 at The Landing Artists Studio in The Landing mall in Port Angeles where she’s been working and selling art for about four years.

Since the stroke, she’s been at the gallery at least three days a week painting. She has created about two dozen pieces since the stroke, including seascapes and abstracts ranging in size from 5 inches by 7 inches to 12 inches by 12 inches and larger.

She’s also done a series of works based on themes such as the seasons or music.

Her first completed piece post-stroke went to a special person in Stadtmiller’s life. Amie, her daughter, asked for it. It was the first time she had asked her mother for some of her artwork, Stadtmiller said.

Now that the stroke is more than a year in the past, Stadtmiller says she’s going to keep pushing herself with art.

“I want my art to grow in new directions,” she said. “It’s time for me to do something for me. I like being here [at the gallery].”

Previously, she was an active volunteer with the Sequim Museum and Arts Center, and Sequim Arts, now the Olympic Peninsula Arts Commission, but plans to focus more on her own art.

Pam Dick, a fellow Landing Artists Studio artist, said Stadtmiller is an inspiration to her and other artists.

“We lift each other up to achieve things we didn’t think we could do before,” Dick said.

Stadtmiller is walking with a cane now and can drive on her own thanks to tips from her husband, who works part-time as a driving instructor.

She says rehabilitation of her arm is at a standstill but she started water aerobics at the YMCA of Sequim and says it might be helping.

Along with Tardif, she turns to her father, Lawrence “Lolly” Giovanni, for inspiration because he had a stroke, too.

“He used an electric cart and I’d go pick him up and take him on a trip every year,” she said.

“He never complained. There are a lot of people with disabilities people don’t see and they’ve learned to adapt.”

Stadtmiller said while she lived in Europe as a teenager, her father took the children to as many cathedrals and museums as possible.

She encourages others who have had a stroke or suffer any kind of physical ailment to push forward.

“Number one, don’t give up,” she said. “Number two, you’re disabled, not dead. There are a lot of things you can do. You can adapt.”

Stadtmiller moved to Sequim in 1998 from Saudi Arabia where her husband was working for Chevron. She’s owned her own business, worked as a substitute teacher and in offices.

For more on her art, look for Stadtmiller in the Landing Artist Studio, 115 E. Railroad Ave., Suite 103, Port Angeles.

To contact Stadtmiller, email lindastadtmiller@gmail.com.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

“On the Strait” is part of Linda Stadtmiller’s musical note mixed media series. She continued it after having a stroke in May 2015.

“On the Strait” is part of Linda Stadtmiller’s musical note mixed media series. She continued it after having a stroke in May 2015.

Sequim artist switches hands, finds new goals after stroke
”Summer” is one of Linda Stadtmiller’s more recent pieces she’s completed after she suffered a stroke in 2015.

”Summer” is one of Linda Stadtmiller’s more recent pieces she’s completed after she suffered a stroke in 2015.

Sequim artist switches hands, finds new goals after stroke
Sequim artist switches hands, finds new goals after stroke
“On the Strait” is part of Linda Stadtmiller’s musical note mixed media series. She continued it after having a stroke in May 2015.

“On the Strait” is part of Linda Stadtmiller’s musical note mixed media series. She continued it after having a stroke in May 2015.

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