Inspired by daily life, experience with a brain tumor, and her desire to help others, Sierra Barnes’ paintings are layered in color and emotion. At the tender age of 5, she was diagnosed with Craniopharyngioma, a rare type of brain tumor. Soon after, she had to undergo brain surgery to remove the tumor. Sierra made it through the surgery, though she would have to adjust to long term effects from the operation.
After the surgery, her mom gave her a small canvas to paint on to help her express her emotions. Sierra began to paint and when her mom asked her to name the piece, she titled it "Complicated," reflecting her journey of being a young child in an extraordinary situation. This creative experience was impactful. Sierra notes, “Even at such a young age, I was expressing myself and my emotions through art and since then, I've loved art and creating.”
From there, Sierra focused on her recovery and improving her art practice. She explains, “Everything that I experience is a way for me to grow and learn in some way.” This positive, progress focused mindset has helped her through hard times. Sierra expresses, “I've had people make negative comments about my art and about my appearance in the past and if I listened to those people I wouldn't be where I am today as an artist and a person.”
Her artistic style is abstract, intuitive, and figurative, just as it was in her first piece. Sierra tries not to plan her paintings but rather create through feeling. She paints when she feels called or inspired to work on a piece. With acrylic paint, watercolors, pastels and paint markers at her disposal, Sierra releases her emotions through many colorful mediums. She also loves to experiment with different substances and recently started adding crystal powders such as rose quartz, amethyst, and citrine to her paintings!
Sierra also expresses herself through the art of writing. Sierra writes poems corresponding to each of her pieces, and her original paintings come with these poems handwritten on the back. She has a blog titled "Officially Thriving" where she shares and posts about fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and wellness. Additionally, she was a contributing writer in "You're So Lucky," a book about first-hand experiences from brain tumor survivors.
I put my heart and soul into my art and poetry. With it, I want to help and inspire others. I believe art can heal. It’s helped me through some difficult times in my life. My first painting, “Complicated,” is a real example of that.
When I am creating, it takes me into a relaxing meditative state. From the subject to the colors and supplies that I use, I create most of my art intuitively and go with whatever I feel without planning. The main things that inspire my art are my daily life, things that I’ve experienced, and things I observe in the world. Sometimes my art inspires my poetry, and other times my poetry inspires my art. I know not everyone will understand or like my art. But I think that’s the beauty of it. Many people can look at the same piece and like or dislike it and see something completely different.
"I am an artist, writer, blogger, and brain tumor thriver creating in a beautiful world full of chaos."