Painting Joy:  Brianne Applegate's Journey from Accident to Artist

All year on Style Maniac we've been talking about risk, joy and following your dreams.  For most of us the impetus to make a change in our lives and follow our passions is sparked by a book or lecture or perhaps a blog post.  For Brianne Applegate it happened through a near-fatal car accident that left her with broken ribs, punctured lungs, a C2 fracture, massive frontal lobe damage and traumatic memory loss.  She says it was the best thing that ever happened to her.

Fire Within  by Brianne Applegate

Fire Within by Brianne Applegate

"Before the accident, I wanted to be a famous actress and thought that's what would fulfill me," says Brianne.  "Through the accident, and the long journey of recovery, I found out what actually feeds my soul.  And that is art."

Before the accident, Brianne had never painted.  During her grueling 10-month rehab, her mother, an artist, introduced art and music therapy. Changes were immediate. Brianne's mood improved, her seizures slowed and her depression--common in brain injury cases--abated.

In the eight years since, her brushstrokes have changed as her brain has healed.  Her color palette has not.  It remains bright and vibrant, reflecting the joy with which she now sees the world and the joy that painting brings her.  "I paint solely because it feels so damn good."

May  by Brianne Applegate

May by Brianne Applegate

Others think her art looks damn good.  Her pieces have connected with an audience of eager buyers and have been shown in galleries and solo exhibits—a turn of events she never envisioned.

The First Day   by Brianne Applegate

The First Day  by Brianne Applegate

Brianne Applegate works as an adaptvie art instructor helping brain injury and stroke patients heal through painting.

Brianne Applegate works as an adaptvie art instructor helping brain injury and stroke patients heal through painting.

Brianne now also brings the transformative joy of painting to other brain injury and stroke patients as an adaptive art instructor at rehabilitation centers.  

"We set up canvases, paints, brushes, gloves.  We ask: 'What is your favorite moment or favorite color?' And then we let the patients paint."  The changes in just two to three hours are dramatic.  "They become new people.  Their mood, their bodies, the reach of their arms … it all changes." 

Capetown Sunset at D4  by Brianne Applegate

Capetown Sunset at D4 by Brianne Applegate

Such work is what Brianne plans to dedicate her life to -- another path she never would have envisioned before her car veered into a ravine on rain-slicked I-95.

"The accident gifted me empathy," says Brianne.  "What I went through taught me what love truly is. Love from my family, of course; but also the love in all people."

abstract art by Brianne Applegate

Bring Brianne's Art Home

How to Purchase

Artist Brianne Applegate

Artist Brianne Applegate

Brianne sells her art in a few unique ways.  

If you like a piece shown on her website she can

  • Reproduce it
  • Make a print (for a lesser price)
  • Or, if the original piece is available, sell it to you

Reproductions are original, one-of-a-kind works of art created for the individual client upon order and will have some slight variations in each painting, allowing for each representation of that work to be unique. No two are exactly alike.  

Additionally, each of Brianne's paintings are available to be commissioned to your liking for size, color scheme, and personal messaging.  

For more info email Brianne or visit

"Use the good china for breakfast."