Wendy Hawkins was born in the late 1960’s in western Pennsylvania. Both of her grandfathers worked in the coal mines and her parents grew up in small coal mining towns. At the young age of 18 months old, she was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). This destructive illness was to touch and shape every aspect of her life.
Her parents moved the family West after hearing that the dry, desert heat of Arizona would help their daughter’s health. From 1st grade on, she went to school in Phoenix, AZ. In those days, not much was known about how to treat children with JRA. Physical activity was thought to cause more damage to joints so Wendy never took P.E. classes with her classmates. Instead, she would help out in the library or take an extra art class. Painting and drawing became her passion. Art was the perfect escape and was a good way to express and release all the turmoil going on in her body and her life.
She graduated from Arizona State University in 1989, with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. As much as she loved art, it wasn’t a practical way to make a living and get the medical benefits she needed. In high school she enjoyed computer programming classes and had a real knack for it. This skill gave her a path forward to a career in the computer industry. After graduating from ASU, she got her dream job working for Hewlett Packard. She moved to the heart of Silicon Valley – San Jose, CA – and spent 16 yrs working for HP before her JRA had progressed so much that she could no longer work.
During her career at HP, she continued painting. Water-colors have always been her favorite medium. In 1996, she learned of an ancient art form, called the Mandala, that can be used as an aid for emotional and spiritual healing. She became part of a healing art class focused on creating mandalas. Within a year, she was teaching the class on a rotational basis. In 2000, she began writing a book that documented her journey of healing through art. Her first book, ‘Inner Landscapes: A Personal Journey of Healing Through Art’, is part auto-biography, part instructional guide, and part art book. She shares over 30 of her favorite mandala paintings in full color throughout the book.
Wendy now lives in Mesa, AZ and her life is focused on managing her health and following her passion for art.