An artist is an explorer – Henri Matesse
As a child, I grew up in a muted solitude. My mother raised me according to her sleeping schedule; going to bed at 4am and awakening at 3pm. Living with this schedule as an only child, most of my mornings and afternoons were in isolation. Also growing up with anxiety to keep quite, in fear of waking my mother. I was also a very sickly child. My mother would often have to admit me into the hospital for days or weeks at a time for issues with asthma or other related illnesses. While my mother was asleep or while I lay dormant in order for my lungs to heal, I taught myself how to draw. Wherever I was enclosed I drew various objects that were in the room, cartoon characters from memory, or the range of Floridian plants I could see from the window. When I was six, my mother noticed my serious interest in drawing and took me to see a museum exhibition featuring Pablo Picasso’s work. She purchased several books for me with exercises featuring his various styles. Since then, I have continued researching with an undying perseverance for art.
My work has often focused on human psychology. Specifically what makes humans tick, what allows themselves to make which rationalizations and why. Since psychology is a continuously growing field, I feel it is a very strong base of inspiration that will never fail me. Also coming from a family with certain diseases is a blessing and a curse.
A grand majority of my family suffers from some sort of addiction. Even though the addiction is struggle for the victim, personally watching loved ones experience this endeavor is terrifying and heartbreaking. Seeing how little they think of themselves and how little they love themselves is a constant battle. Their inner monster that gives them permission to take another drink, another hit, another roll of the dice just takes over; and leaves the person as an empty vessel. It has been a struggle to wrap my head around this thought process. In the end, my answer for these times came through the therapeutic movement of painting. As humans we can repurpose our pain in a way that enhances the rawness of what real art is: drama.
My process is usually distributed in several directions at once. I picture it like an anthill. Above the surface everything is peaceful and still - but if you stick a pane of glass into the hill to see the entire structure, there’s a multitude of tiny passages with thousands of ants scurrying around with individual tasks. Most of the time I have one basic thought for a project or work, then while researching I end up going down several rabbits holes and then create side projects. Sometimes I’ll be working on a figure painting and a separate thought or memory will pop in my head, and then I need regurgitate it in writing or drawing. From that I will usually research certain aspects of the story or work, while having eight either other tabs open on my internet browser, all the while drawing a small illustration of the new character so I can better understand his form and mannerisms for the initial story. There are times where the creativity is impulsive, fast, and I know exactly what needs to be done with which materials. Then there are times when it takes a while to figure out what the proper medium is for a certain piece. Whether it’s writing, drawing, photography, printmaking, painting, an installation piece, or a wonderful combination. I firmly believe that we have so many different mediums because every project calls for a different texture, opacity, vibrancy, balance, viscosity, or transparency to achieve the correct composition that pops into an artist’s head.
My most developed work is abstract paintings with a wet on wet pouring technique. I layer enamel with acrylic paint mixed with either hot or cold water, and then drip gauche to create a steady outline of the organic shapes created. The chemical reaction from the paint is how the composition achieves depth, movement, texture, and form.
Some of my most recent work centers on abstract figure painting. After attending a residency in NY, it was mentioned that my style of painting was similar to stained glass. From that stemmed a series of abstract acrylic dry brush figure paintings on mylar. With the transparency from the mylar and the paints, it easily recreates a ‘stained glass’ look. The subtle hook is the mylar paintings are then placed on light boxes to pose as the frame. With this up front illumination, the viewer can truly see each bristle from the brush strokes as well as each layer.
I create, because I have too. There isn’t a better way to release this energy other than art. I am not alone in feeling lonely, feeling hurt, betrayed, or abandoned. I am also not alone in feeling exuberantly happy, undyingly pleased, or eternally grateful. Visual arts create the chance to make the private public and ignite a connection with the artist and the viewer, no matter the medium.
What Dependency Took From me
What ………. took from me
What alcohol took from me
What liquid courage took from me
What dependency took from me
What fear took from me
I feel there is a fine line between understanding and appreciating. It’s impossible to appreciate what we don’t understand. Until you have actually walked the mile; there is no way of truly knowing what someone is going through. There are so many people that suffer from addiction; they’ve created this voice that validates their harmful desires.
The voice that beacons for the user to make their world better with another hit, another sip, another shot, another roll of the dice. Their inner monster that gives them permission or reassures them they need this to keep living, that they are nothing and that maybe they even deserve to be treated in such a manner. These voices that take over and leaves the host an empty vessel.
I am not a prisoner of addition, but it still hurts.
Alcoholism stole my mother’s independence
She still raised me to be the amazing woman I am; but all the nights of hard work studying with me for hours, working on science projects the night before they are due, also came nights that she didn’t remember. Nights were she would punish me for things I didn’t understand. Nights where she would argue over how the dishes should be placed in the washer, how things were moved in the house when nothing changed, or over how I would work too hard or be too happy. How I am too serious and I was never going to find a man because of this. Mornings where she wouldn’t wake up; to take me to school, to cook food, run errands, or even just spend time with me. Times where I never understood her condition, until I realized it was difficult to truly connect with her only after two glasses of wine.
One night watching her be so flustered about losing the day the previous night and how she was out of rum and she needed to go to the store but was running out of time. I did my best as her daughter to help in the situation, and suggested to her that maybe she just doesn’t go to the liquor store tonight, and run her other errands she didn’t get to that day – because of her sleepless night from the previous day. Watching her face turn red and her eyes dilate, she looked at me and yelled “Do you need milk?!” I said, “Actually I do, you and I both know my asthma medications kills some of the calcium in my body. But yes mom, rum is just as important as milk.” Of course she had to go get rum, there was no other option. Rum was her way of facing the day.
Alcoholism stole my aunt’s life
She was one of the most open hearted, warm, understanding, and loving ladies I knew. She raised two beautiful girls and had a loving marriage. The family was in denial and blind to the demon on her back, flossing its teeth with her hair. Scratching her back with approval and growing stronger with each glass of wine she tossed back. The demon caressing her face with love and understanding for every mini bottle she would stash in her purse. Sighing with an angry gratitude while the whisky burned the lining of her throat.
After a sudden divorce things turned, dark. Living in hotel rooms rationalizing that she could drink while on ‘vacation’. The family would get periodic calls saying ‘S---- fell again’ or ‘She feel, but this time its worse’ or ‘Her daughter isn’t staying with her this Christmas because now she gets nasty when she drinks’ or ‘ She’s going to another rehab center this week, maybe this time it will stick’ This demon we didn’t acknowledge till it was too late.
Addiction stole my cousins’ lives
Alcoholism took my cousins mother. The twelve-year struggle of watching their mother fall apart and slowly crumble into the puddle of misery that she became. Wearing down the powerful, knowledgeable, dependable woman that they knew growing up. Instead she became this unknown block of ash in the family.
From watching their mother suffer from this, they each went their separate ways. One not as productive, the other was overly productive. Each of them developed different struggles; one chose education and work, the other choose an unstable relationship with two children while growing a habit for liquid courage in all shapes and forms. One little girl was somehow taught that she could do anything. That she was beautiful and any man would be lucky to have her. Somehow the other little girl lost that message. With this came anther generation of demons to fulfill their harmful desires.
Alcoholism stole my father’s faith
My father’s father died from organ failure from years of over indulging. From this abandonment, my father grew a fear of over indulging of any kind from then on. My father grew afraid of anyone that had more than one drink on any night for any reason. With this fear, he would become angry in any amount of over enthusiasm over anything if he did not deem it worthy. He lost trust in people, and trust in himself.
The last time we had dinner together, I was just about to go off for college. At the end of the evening he declared that he had something very important he wanted to share with me. He expressed that he was afraid that his daughter was going to become an alcoholic like his father and her mother. He wasn’t worried about me going to a college that had a 88% undergraduate dropout rate, no worries were shared about me getting raped, or going into debt. In a sense, I guess it was nice, maybe he has complete faith in me and no worries of failure. He worries that involved failure were on another level. But his faith was so shaken that he begged his daughter to be cautious about over indulging.
Addiction stole my innocence
My grandmothers’ children were raised in a house with overwhelming anger and addiction, and from that each one of those daughters created their own lives and vices once they had their own house and family. Though we all grew up in different houses in different eras, it was normal to have more than one ‘night cap’ for most evenings as collective. Some of us realized the difference in the rest of the world, and others embraced the darkness and chose to feed the growing demon.
Because addiction runs heavily in both of my bloodlines, I am essentially cursed from the start. Any friendship will be tarnished from fear of me making friends with an addict, or the fact that I may become one myself simply from upbringing. Any intimate relationship I have will be tainted from lack of trust and my personal levels of self-control. It’s overwhelming to be compared to Bree Van de Kamp from season one from my family but in reality, I’m viewed as functioning drunk in season two.
Addition is an internal irritation that cannot be tamed with daily life, hugs, comfort, or love. It is a sickness that destroys the host, and leaves loved ones in shambles.