Art changed my life. And it can change yours too.
I remember my first painting like it was yesterday.
I named it Amygdala. It’s actually a pretty bad painting, but it’s beautiful to me.
That first painting gave me back my joy. The joy I desperately wanted to find when I was forced to turn off mommy mode and go into warrior mode during twenty years in the Navy and three combat tours. The joy I searched so hard for when I was bedridden for two years after battling cancer. So much emotion and pain was poured out onto that canvas. I didn’t expect anything from it, but it gave me so much back in return.
In my deepest darkest depression, my therapist wrote me a prescription to watch Bob Ross videos. I thought he was full of it. But when I do something, I go all in. It didn’t take long for those happy little trees to win me over, but there was just one problem.
I wanted to paint, but I couldn’t.
It’s not that I didn’t have the skills-- I got a scholarship to NYU for graphic design, used to do hand lettering, and even tagged a few walls in my graffiti days. I may have looked healthy, but I was sick. I still am.
I didn’t have the dexterity and motor skills to paint, and no amount of Bob Ross videos could change that. I couldn’t even shower without my husband’s help. After radiation treatment for my cancer, I felt completely incapable and useless in my own body. There was a constant burning sensation in my arms and hands, which would later be diagnosed as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I kept watching those videos.
Bob Ross kept telling me I could do it, and one day I believed him.
Finally I said, “what if I just tried?”
There had to be something I could do. I went on YouTube and saw people with no arms painting with their feet. If they could hold a paintbrush between their toes, I could find a way to paint too.
What did I have to lose? I already lost my joy. Life just meant pain. There was no cure for what I was suffering from. This was just how life was going to be.
I stumbled upon a method of painting that involved mixing paint with a medium in a cup, pouring it over a canvas, and just moving it around a little. This looked like something I could do. So my husband went to Michael’s and bought me all the supplies to do my first pour painting. He says it’s the best $200 he ever spent.
The minute I flipped that paint cup over, I found my flow.
Painting took my mind off my pain and transported me into a meditative state.
For the first time in several years, I let it all go and felt a sense of relief. I wasn’t thinking about my pain. I wasn’t thinking about anything. It felt like magic.
That first time I just used some glue, water, and some dish soap mixed into the paint. I moved the canvas around way too much and it doesn’t have those little cells I’ve become known for. But there’s something I see in it. I can see what I poured out of me and onto that canvas. All the negativity and resentment was replaced with hope and joy.
I want that for you.
I’m still in pain. I feel like I have the flu all day everyday. But when I’m drowning, I’m not just gonna save myself. I’m gonna save you too. I guess I get that from the Navy. I measure my success by your success. That’s why I share so much about my technique and medium.
Learning how to do this was like a rebirth for me. It can do that for you too.
It’s all coming out. You just gotta release it.
There’s no rules. There’s no perfect pour. It’s all gonna come out. There’s no rhyme or reason.
When I see the look on someone’s face as they turn a cup full of paint into art, I go right back to that exact moment when I poured my first piece. It gives me exponential joy to be a part of that moment.
You might not be as bad off as I was, or you may be worse. I want to help people who have been where I’ve been. I want to see people pour; people with chronic pain, who have PTSD, who need relief from anxiety, and could use a little help relaxing.
I want everyone to pour. Let’s get your mojo back. You don’t need to paint everyday like me, but I bet you’ll want to.