Leesburg artist Carrie Ann Knupp suffered a life-altering injury on June 27, 2015.

Knupp, who became well know for encaustic painting which involves beeswax, fell while carrying a box of dishes inside her downtown studio on its opening day. She attempted to catch herself from falling, but was unsuccessful and noticed something sticking out of her wrist when she stood up.

“As I fell, my hand went in to the box of dishes to help catch myself,” Knupp said. “I didn’t notice at first but a big shard of glass went right into my right wrist.”

The broken glass severed an artery, paralyzing three fingers on her left hand, the one she uses to paint. However, Knupp didn’t let the injury stop her from completing 100 paintings for the upcoming weekend.

After mending her wrist, she began therapy to try to regain the use of her fingers. The normal methods of therapy such as squeezing a ball and finger stretches weren’t challenging enough for Knupp, so she tried wire wrapping. Using aluminum and copper wire, she bent them to make different shapes.

“I had no aspirations of ever making jewelry,” Knupp said. “Making different things from the wire was a lot of fun. I would make spirals and waves and turn them into bracelets or earrings. Whatever design I came up with, I made.”

Knupp continued to work at her studio, Encaustic Guru, making artwork for shows and teaching classes. She also worked on wire wrapping on the side, until one day she had an idea.

“My daughter travels the world and is always bringing me back stones from different countries,” Knupp said. “So I started to wrap the stones and incorporate them into my jewelry. I have all kinds of stones from places like Brazil, Portugal, Taiwan and Greece.”

What started as simple therapy turned into a new love. She now makes hundreds of pieces, all with a story behind them.

Although she has regained some movement in her once paralyzed fingers, she still has no feeling in them. 

“People tell me all the time that they can’t do what I do because they are not good at it or they are disabled,” Knupp said. “I want to be living proof that a disability doesn’t have to stop you. Art teaches people things that they never thought they could do.”

Many of her paintings incorporate the struggles and hardships that she has experienced, including one about widowhood after losing her husband, former Lake County Sheriff George Edward Knupp Jr., six years ago.

Her work has been published in five different languages and won several state and national awards, including her most famous piece, “Never Again,” which depicts a holocaust victim.

“Art has a way of speaking to people,” she said. “You have to just take what life throws at you and try to make a difference. I want my work to touch people and let them know that they are not alone in their experiences.”

Encaustic Guru is at 606 W. Main St., inside the Shops on Main Street building in downtown Leesburg. Email encausticguru@gmail.com for information.