Art and my Animal Friends are my Best Therapy

Tinamarie Nelmes ChaCha Frog
Tinamarie Nelmes "ChaCha Frog"

By Tinamarie Nelmes

Living with Asperger’s syndrome and epilepsy is like two neighbors that live next door to each other, but do not get along! They both aggravate each other (it makes me chuckle to think of it this way) however, they will call a truce when I’m interacting with my fur and feather friends or when I’m doing my Tinked Art (because my name is Tinamarie and I use fine ink pens, thus the name Tinked Art).

My art much like myself has gone through changes, however my subject matter is the same….ANIMALS….you won’t find people in my art. If you do, it will be an animal version of them. How I go about creating my whimsical art, is by finding inspiration in nature and what I can identify with. Then I decide what type of animal I will draw as well as colors to use to make my own version of what I see in my mind. I like to use a lot of different colors and lines going in all different directions because it adds texture and dimension to each piece.

Tinamarie Nelmes "Hippi Pippi Horse"
Tinamarie Nelmes “Hippi Pippi Horse”

I don’t erase, I just keep letting the lines take me to wherever my imagination leads me. However, since I do use ink, I sometimes have to start over numerous times. My art is not based on the final results, but the journey it takes me on. Sometimes in can take from up to 8 hours to 2 weeks to complete a drawing due to how much my epilepsy interferes with my concentration.

The Ink pens that I use are from a wide variety of brands such as Papermate and Maped, along with other generic brands such as gels, all mostly fine tips. The size paper I use is usually 14″ x 17″. This is because the individual lines is very time consuming within the space it needs to fill. This style art I have been doing for over a year now. However I have been doing art for most of my life using various forms of media such as sculpting, painting, pastels, pencils. Also jewelry making to painting rocks and weaving. I love all art forms but my true love has been with the use of fine ink pens.

Tinamarie Nelmes "Jeweled Eyed Tiger"
Tinamarie Nelmes “Jewel Eyed Tiger”

Despite the everyday challenges dealing with epilepsy and Asperger’s Syndrome, when I work on an art piece with my Bird (Rue) on my shoulder and mini Daschund (Sedona) on my lap, is where I find some contentment and peace. My art also reflects my humor which is a necessity in my life and marriage. My husband Jay, is not only my best friend but also my personal critic (in a good loving way) and motivates me to keep going in my art and in my life.

All my love, joy and laughter flows into every whimsical colorful line that results in all kinds of creatures, from fur, feathers and scales. I’ve reached a point in my life that my art doesn’t need to tell my story of sadness or pain, instead it reflects the person I am now and what I’ve become. And that’s somebody who is happy inside and content, finding humor through my challenges.

Tinamarie Nelmes Crowman
Tinamarie Nelmes “Crowman”

Pictures have always had an impact of how I process information. So needless to say, the drawings I do will have a story with it, a feeling or memory. And once I have an idea, I just start to draw. Most of the time my picture will reflect my idea, but there are times where it will go in a different direction. The end result is I surprise myself with the finished piece.

My art parallels my real life, it’s unexpected and may not turn out exactly how I want it, but I’m always pleasantly surprised with the results. My signature is never separate from my work. When I finish a piece, I incorporate my name in it. I feel my art is a piece of me, we are one in the same.

All my inked art is not meant to be serious in the sense of deep or dark broody thoughts. Instead, it reflects my humor. So when I draw, I actually will have a good laugh while making it. And that’s what I want my art to do, it’s not created to make you think about something, rather it’s created with the hope you will FEEL something. Whether it’s a reaction like a smile or maybe a chuckle.

Yes, art definitely is my therapy. But, I’m not a person who has Asperger’s syndrome and epilepsy who happens to do art, I am an artist who happens to have Asperger’s syndrome and epilepsy. My work doesn’t give you a glimpse of what’s going on in my head, but it’s sharing pictures of what I feel in my heart.


My name is Tinamarie Nelmes. I was diagnosed later in life in my late 30’s with Asperger syndrome and the in addition in my 40’s with Epilepsy. It has made for a very interesting, and at times frustrating journey. I always had a love and fascination with animals of all kinds and is what inspires me and my work. My husband and I have been married for 31 years, which has also made it for a very interesting eventful journey. We live way out in the country with our fur and feathered friends which helps me keep calm; especially during times of stress. My husband and I have been running a unique business that involves building custom animal cages. ( We produced this home business because my husband needed to be home to help me. Despite the challenges we have faced together, we still laugh and enjoy being together.

I find that being in nature and being with my animal friends as well as my art, it’s the best medicine with no side effects. I may have limitations, but there are no limits to what I can still accomplish by having a positive attitude. My Tinked art is a reflection of that. Having the ability to create something that makes another person smile and feel happy when they look at it, is wonderful. With the help of my husband we opened an Etsy shop where my art can be seen or purchased on various items.


Cover image: Tinamarie Nelmes “Cha Cha Frog”

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