It was early January. I was sitting on the couch at Sun-Ray Cinema, organizing the prints that I had left there for sale. I looked up and saw Tim walking toward me. He stopped, took a step back and looked at the placard for a piece of mine on the wall. “Yeah, I’m gonna take that one,” he told me.
Tim and Shanna (co-owners of Sun-Ray) had given me the opportunity to have my first art show, there in the lobby of their theater. And Shanna had already bought one of my pieces when my exhibit first opened. They’ve been unspeakably supportive of me. And now Tim wanted to buy another one. Things had been going very well the last few months and as I made my way home that night, I couldn’t help but reflect on how cool it all was. I was actually making my living with my artwork. I was paying my bills and supporting myself with the little therapeutic exercise/activity that I had discovered in the midst of my third (and seven month) inpatient stay of treatment for heroin addiction and borderline personality disorder. I was spinning my mental illness into a career. It seemed totally insane and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
A few days later, I was in southwest Florida so I went in to visit at Tranquil Shores – the facility where all of this started. And I was lucky enough to be there on a Wednesday, which is the night of their outpatient “Art of Recovery” group. These days, I rarely spend less than fifteen hours on a piece and they’re almost always acrylic paint on canvas. When I get back to “group” though, I like to play along, which means starting and finishing a piece within the session and using the materials provided. Besides, those bright yellow and pink oil pastels looked really appealing. (I love colors way more than makes any kind of logical sense).
I’ve been mobile/itinerant as fuck lately, so I’ve had this piece tucked away (in an envelope, in a steamer trunk, in the back of my minivan) for the last two months. I rediscovered it the other day and finally had prints made. It seems like just the right time. As I wrote last night:
As I go to bed on the last night in March, it is with the satisfaction that comes with having met my income goal for the month. And my income goal for next month. And the NEXT month. Things are going well. Here’s to keeping it moving, carrying it forward in April (which I already have fully blocked out in three cities).
I love making art. I love that I’m able to support myself doing it. I’m really, truly happy. I am fulfilled.
The problems that come along with having a personality disorder (my brain not being the way it should be) used to fuck me up all kinds of ways. These days, it’s a blessing.
I feel like a broken record saying so but I’m so grateful. And I can’t help but think about how remarkably and wildly different a sentiment that is from the way I used to feel about myself.