Tag Archives: resin sand

Beyond the Pink Cloud

"Beyond the Pink Cloud." 12/8/13. Acrylic paint, oil pastels, ink. 18x24".
“Beyond the Pink Cloud.” 12/8/13. Acrylic paint, oil pastels, resin sand, ink. 18×24″.

From my journal yesterday, immediately after finishing this painting:

I’ve got some cute little one-liners. I’ve got some snappy phrases that sound cool but don’t really mean anything. I don’t want to bullshit and I don’t wanna tag this with something that doesn’t represent it.

It took FOREVER to paint. So many layers, so much starting from scratch.

The truth is I’m sick, on the couch, and nothing is in my head. The truth is I’m not always SUPER BRILLIANT. And I don’t wanna not create just ’cause [whatever]. But I don’t really know what’s driving me right now. Maybe it’s just ’cause it’s what I feel like I’m supposed to do at this point. Which is lame but maybe that’s okay. I don’t know. Do I take a break or do I just keep going? Having a cold sucks. Feeling crummy physically is fucking with my ability to DO, which is fucking with my emotional well-being. Tomorrow I’m gonna get dressed and pretend I’m fine. Maybe I am. I guess?

I HATE giving the impression that I’m not doing well, especially when I’m not not doing well. I just have a cold! But if “success” is doing well (being happy) maybe it’s also being okay with acknowledging little hang-ups and demonstrating a progression beyond the pink cloud.

Maybe I’m too caught up in impressions in the first place. Living under a spotlight (even a little one) has its drawbacks. I hate feeling like (or realizing) that it’s influencing me in what I do or how I do it but – honestly – I wouldn’t be pushing myself like this if I didn’t feel like there was some expectation that I “produce.” Is that good or bad? I wanna call it ambition but it makes me feel small (I’m not a famous/important artist); it makes me feel like a joke. But I’m not. I’m okay. I just need to chill out.

It’s a fine line between humility and insecurity – between arrogance and self-esteem. I get carried away in both directions. I don’t need to “tenth step” my every thought / impulse. Hey, Sam: relax – everything’s cool. I know.


I saw this article today about creativity.  There were two statements I really identified with.

  1. “The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation. The effect can liberate creative people from the need to fit in and allow them to pursue their interests.”
  2. “To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself.

That last part seemed especially relevant right now, given this new painting and last night’s journal entry. As I wrote about it, on the canvas [near top-center], “I can’t get to a place where I feel okay with what I’ve done.”

It made me think about what it means to be “beyond the pink cloud.” I think it means accepting that life isn’t always going to be 100% awesome all the time. I used to think that the most a person could hope for was “to be happy 50% of the time.” I don’t think that’s true anymore, but I still think it gets to something that might be true. I think a good aspiration might be “to be 50% happy all of the time” – by which I mean: even when things aren’t going so great, to be able to pause and recognize that I’m at least 50% okay… that some thing might be wrong – but not every thing is wrong; most things are okay.


“Fragile is the hell we make for ourselves when we acknowledge that the spotlight’s on.” – from Fuck You, Ms. Rochelle by Dillinger Four


  • Last time I was sick, I made this.
  • The range of textures (and the shadows they project) make this a difficult piece to photograph. I’ll be getting a better photo when I go to the print shop so I’ll replace it then.
  • Signed 12×16″ prints of “Beyond the Pink Cloud” are available in my webstore. Hit me up if you’re interested in purchasing the original 18×24″ painting.

Snowflakes Anonymous

“Snowflakes Anonymous.” 11/22/13. Acrylic, watercolor, and spray paints, food coloring, markers, pen, resin sand, cardboard and EBT card – on 24×30″ stretched canvas.

This piece took me over a week to finish. That left a lot of time for different issues to pop up, play off each other, and rearrange my ideas. I started it one nigh while I was thinking about missing Tranquil Shores. Then I thought about how I might like to work at a place like that except… For starters, I don’t have enough clean time. I’d have to pretend like
I didn’t fuck up at any point. That made me sad. You know what I eventually realized though? Fuck that. Someone recently complimented my honesty / willingness to be vulnerable through my artwork – “especially for someone with so little clean time.” That threw me for a loop! There was nothing mean-spirited about the comment (it came from someone that’s been really positive and supportive) but still – the implication is that I’ve only recently started getting well. In reality, most of the pieces she had seen and read about were created before that – sometime after my previous clean date (the day I got to Tranquil Shores: August 17th, 2012). And I didn’t really start getting better ’til December 12th. The vast majority of honest text in my pieces was always scribbled out up until that point.

So – yeah – I may have fucked up over the summer, but that didn’t hit the reset button on my recovery; I didn’t fall down into a gutter with a needle in my arm, desperate and miserable as ever. I made a mistake, called myself on it, told the people I needed to tell, and carried the fuck on and moved forward with the things I know to be good for me and good for my mental health and emotional well-being. And you know what else? The dangerous position I allowed myself to be in (that led to my relapse): it was worth it. That month I spent working on that project – it had incredible highs, some (very obvious) lows, I learned a lot about myself, a lot about the world around me, and – overall – was a better stronger person when all was said and done.

And it still affects me today (both positively and negatively). I wouldn’t say I regret any of it. Life is for living and anyone that’s really living is gonna fuck up every now and then. That’s not a preemptive copout for future relapse, it’s just reality. You can count on my not repeating that mistake but I’m sure as shit gonna fuck up at one thing or another!

Back on point: on Tuesday, I was reading the NA literature and I realized that so much of it really has nothing to do with me. It’s totally undescriptive of my thinking and my behavior. Not all of it, but enough of it. Does that mean I’m gonna quit going to meetings? No. But it explains why I stopped going more than once a week back in February – and why my
counselors at Tranquil Shores didn’t throw a monumental fit about it the way they’d always done with everyone else. I may not be some beautiful fucking snowflake, thoroughly unlike all to come before me, but – you know what? I am different than a lotta people and meetings, meetings, meetings isn’t the fucking cure-all for everyone.

And if you wanna get technical – it’s got nothing to do with the twelve steps as they were originally written (and are still written in the AA text). Same with sponsorship – there’s nothing in the original text about going to meetings or finding a sponsor. It’s just about working with / helping other alcoholics [or addicts]. And I do that shit constantly. I hate a lot of the attitudes that dominate the rooms of AA and NA: “Do this or die” (especially when “this” isn’t even part of the program). You know why they think that the only people who succeed in recovery are the ones that continue going to meetings for the rest of their lives? Because the people that come back are the one that fucked up and needed to come back; they never hear the stories of the people that leave their group and succeed because they don’t have any reason to come back around and tell their tale. It’s right for some people – not everyone. And fuck the notion that “clean time” is the only measure of success. I do pretty okay. I like myself. I like my life. And it’s been that way for a while now. It didn’t start ’til I got clean (and then some) but it didn’t go away just ’cause I had a lapse in judgment. I still have that time. There are documents of it – all over my walls and all over this website.

SECOND (reason I can’t get a job at a treatment facility), I don’t think I’m cut out to work anywhere. I’m not some wild, outta control basket case but that’s ’cause I know what I need to do to keep my grip. When things get rough, I’ve got tools I can use to get ’em back on the right track. But mental health is a chore and I can’t schedule my emotions. Being on the clock, being on someone else’s time… it doesn’t work for me. I have too much to do – sick or well, fucked or not. So while I might like to do some volunteer kinda stuff now and then, I don’t think that “getting a job” is anything that’s ever gonna work out for me.

From there I was thinking about something that’s occurred to me before: that I could almost certainly qualify to receive disability payments. Up ’til my “recovery” began, I’d have taken those without a second thought; I had (and still have) no moral objections to something like that (even if I were/am fully capable of working). But getting disability doesn’t really seem in line with what I’m about these days. My brain might be a little off but I’ve been creatively building a life out of that, through my artwork. I’m not sure I want a label like “disabled” on me.

But – also on Tuesday – I realized that I use food stamps and… is that really any different? It’s basically partial-disability with no questions asked. “Oh? You don’t make enough money? Okay, here you go. No – we don’t care why, just take it.” Strangely enough, the very next day, I met a girl who does receive disability payments (and for borderline personality disorder!) That had me actually considering it for the first time but it wasn’t ’til later that night I realized that – immediately after meeting her – I volunteered to pick up a shift at Sun-Ray over the weekend if they needed any extra help. AND THEN(!) I had to modify my offer to exclude Saturday because I’m going to some kind of seven hour “personal growth” / mental health thing tomorrow.

Just like that – I went from ruling out work because of my obligations to myself and my mental health but rejecting the prospect of disability payments on principle, meeting a girl on disability with the same issues I have and starting to reconsider,  to unthinkingly offering to work, and then realizing I couldn’t because of a (very concrete, specific) mental health obligation.

For now, I’m gonna keep on as I have been. I already have everything I need. Well, maybe not a sense of security but what fun would that be?


Hey – speaking of “clean time,” “clean dates,” and what a beautiful fucking snowflake I am… When someone completes their treatment plan at Tranquil Shores, they have their coin-out ceremony and they get a little keychain with their clean date on it. Here’s the one they gave me back in February.

Clean date key tag

Yes, that is an “X” in place of a clean date. No, I had no idea that mine was going to be different and – no – of all the people that have been through the program, no one else has ever gotten anything other than their actual clean date.


Something I wrote in this entry reminded me of a lyric from a song I haven’t heard in a few years. “She asked me if I want to die / I said of course I do sometimes / Anyone who never wants to die / must not really be alive.” And now that I’m listening to it, I’m realizing that it’s right for this entry in more ways than one.


I got the Like Bats cassettes in the mail today. They’ll be the first new Traffic Street release in more than two years and will go on sale tomorrow! (This is a one-off sorta thing though; I’m not picking back up with Traffic Street for real – not anytime soon anyway).

I've had that box of inserts and covers for three years now!
I’ve had that box of inserts and covers for three years now!


Fun fact: Did you notice my (expired) EBT/foodstamp card glued to the top-right corner of the canvas? Did you notice that it says “ASK FOR VD” on the signature line? Just below that, it says “ARTS SUBSIDY” which I added after the card was on the canvas). I wrote “ASK FOR VD” on it back when it was still valid though – back when I first got it in March. I am a ridiculous human being.

This piece is available for purchase as a 12×15″ print. The original sold in December 2013.

So Smart I Got Life Lessons Dripping Out My Asshole

"I'm So Smart I Got Life Lessons Dripping Out My Asshole (Also: Charm) Pay Me (...?)" 2/16/13. Acrylics and resin sand on cardboard. 12x14".
“So Smart I Got Life Lessons Dripping Out My Asshole.” 2/16/13. Acrylics and resin sand on cardboard. 12×14″.

So smart I got life lessons dripping out my asshole (also: charm); pay me (…?)

Expressive art. Self-deprecating humor. The ninth painting of ten in my series, “The Weak End.” If you’re at all familiar with my work, you’ve already read everything that I could possibly say about this painting or the two days over which I worked on it.

I do, however, have a new (almost-finished) painting that will be featured here soon. In presenting it, there are three stories that I’ll want to share. Were I to include them all in a single entry, it’d be a little overwhelming. So…


The true story of my afternoon on April 28, 2012.

We met in a treatment facility that we had both transferred to from others. It was from her previous rehab that she knew Bill. He wasn’t a patient of theirs, he was an employee. He had clean time. (Emphasis on had). He started using yesterday.

J had a habit of not counting his money until he was back in his car. We didn’t have any money, but if we could find someone to throw in a hundred, we could pad the twenties with small bills to make it look like as much as three. We called Bill and he met us with a hundred dollars cash.

We had shorted J before but only by twenty or thirty and we’d always eventually (sort of) paid in full. In any case, we bought from him everyday. We were junkies; he knew we weren’t going anywhere.

I made the call and with her by my side and Bill in the backseat, we met up with J. As soon as we made the hand-off,  I put the car in gear and drove off as quickly as I could without raising suspicion – but it’d only be a matter of time before he sat down and counted that money. He called within a minute. I had (I thought, slyly) taken a residential street so that he wouldn’t see us in traffic, but before I knew it, he was there. He slid around us, cut off our path, and was out of the car. I floored it in reverse, struggling to keep the car from backing into any of the others parked on the narrow street. He chased after us and almost grabbed hold of me through the window when I swung the car out into the intersection and into drive. His girlfriend had taken the wheel when he got out and she picked him up. They were right on us immediately and we proceeded to play bumper cars across the streets of Delray Beach, running every red light, driving on the wrong side of the roads. Our car was already beat up but his was really nice. Or had been earlier that day anyway.

As soon as J was back in the car, he was back on the phone. As we swerved around and into each other, I tried to reason with him. “It’s only two hundred dollars. Report the damage as a hit and run and turn it in to your insurance. This isn’t worth it.”

“This car isn’t insured or registered. It’s not even my plate. You owe me a lot of money – and the dope – and I’m beating the shit out of you.”

“I’ll get you money later in the week but I’m not giving the drugs back so you might as well give up now.”

I got us to the on ramp for I-95, but  our car was old and slow. We didn’t stand a chance at outrunning him. Smashing the fuck out of his car hadn’t deterred him so I had to get creative. I swerved around other cars, trying to lead J into an accident that might actually slow him down.

“I’m gonna flip your car and kill you,” he said.

“That’s the only way you’re getting the drugs back. Chalk it up as a loss and give up before it gets any worse.” I was pretty bold for someone shaking so badly.

I tried a new technique: slamming on the brakes to take us from 90 mph to a dead stop in the middle of the interstate – counting on the cars around us to prevent J from doing the same. After a couple stalemates, where he pulled onto the shoulder up ahead to wait, knowing we had no option but to start driving again, I started to lose hope. How had we not passed a cop yet? How many other drivers must have called this demolition derby in by now? It was only a matter of time before this all ended very badly – one way or another. And my fucking fuel light was on.

“My boys are getting on at Lantana and are gonna light you the fuck up. You and your girl are as good as dead.”

I guess he didn’t notice that we also had Bill in the back seat. (Quite an experience for someone so freshly off the wagon, huh?)

Eventually, somehow, I was able to lose him. After an exit, I tore across two lanes and into the grass back toward the off-ramp at the last possible second when I’d be able to do so and J wouldn’t without losing sight of us for long enough for us to turn and leave him guessing which way we had gone.

J didn’t follow and when I got to the first red light that I wouldn’t be running that afternoon, I eased into a stop with a police car right next to me. My headlight was dragging on the street in front of the car. The front bumper was partially detached and the back bumper was smashed in. The light turned green and the distance between us and the cop increased until I was able to exhale.

And then I laughed. We all laughed. A lot. It wasn’t funny but it was amazing in its way. As fucked up as all of it is in hindsight, in that moment we were triumphant and I was a hero. (Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, but it felt that way). We had no right to be alive. It defied all logic that we were driving away, unscathed and with heroin. I dropped Bill off at his car and drove back to the trailer park where she and I were renting a windowless room with no door to the outside. I left the car at the opposite end of the park and we got out to walk. We lived at the entrance of the park and J’s house was only a mile down the road; I didn’t want to run the risk were he to go out looking for us.

We walked into the trailer, into our room, shut the door, and shot up. I don’t remember anything that happened after that, but the next day, we packed our shit to leave for Miami.


“The Weak End” series:


  • 11×13″ prints of this piece are for sale in my webstore.

Little Vomit-Colored Hearts

"Little Vomit-Colored Hearts." 2/12/13. Acrylics, pen, and collage (cardboard, resin sand, and crushed up Peptol-Bismol) on a strange wooden frame. 12" (diameter) round.
“Little Vomit-Colored Hearts.” 2/12/13. Acrylics, pen, and collage (cardboard, resin sand, and crushed up Peptol-Bismol) on a strange wooden frame. 12″ (diameter) round.

The text in the center says: “It’s my hope that someday I’ll be able to draw a cartoon Heather that’s maybe 5% as adorable as the real thing.” The large (vomit-colored) text says, “Lovesick.” The rest:

If I had to guess, I’d say you might not be the biggest Valentine’s day celebrant to walk the earth. Which is cool. But any excuse I can grab hold of to tell you I think you’re great with some extra-effort-little gesture… I’m into. Can I be unabashedly romantic/sappy for a minute? You make me wanna puke up little vomit-colored hearts. (What’d I tell you? Romantic). I’m a heroin addict – you see past it. I’m weird as shit – you’re into it. You think you’re (relatively) boring – you’re not. You’re just (relatively) sane (maybe).  Which is awesome. You make me wanna be as good as I can be. You make me wanna live the best life possible. (I already wanted those things, but you make me want ‘em even more). And still have plenty of ridiculous adventures. But with you by my side. I wanna get in all kindsa trouble (and fuck up all kindsa shit) with you. (I mean that in the best way possible). I wanna get in good kindsa trouble. I don’t know about all these words. When I think about you and when I’m with you, sometimes I feel insecure. Until you speak. And then I feel the opposite. I feel safe and okay. (Still pretty new for me). You’re the warmest, most supportive, encouraging, loving, inspiring, high-school-mean-girl-Christian-bully that I’ve ever met. You’re so fucking sharp and beautiful and honest and [fuck!] You’re stylish and funny and perfectly imperfect and strong and independent. and everything good on this wacky fucking planet. You’re a dream I don’t want to wake up from. Happy (two day’s early) Valentine’s day, Heather.

So reads the text at the top of this piece. Following that are some “nervous afterthoughts,
which I wrote over the course of the next hour or so, and then bracketed and labeled as such.

Wanna be my girlfriend? Like – for realsies?
Actually, scratch that.
You already are.
Like it or not!
{You make me feel like a kid again. Not much of a stretch, but – you know…).
Thanks for taking a chance on a kid in rehab.
I adore you.

New relationships in early recovery are not recommended. And if you’re inpatient in rehab (I think it goes without saying that) they’re not allowed at all. For me especially – they’re a bad idea. Keeping the proper distance between girls and me had been a task my various rehab counselors and I had been dealing with for more than a year. This last January, I was still living at Tranquil Shores, but I was no longer technically an inpatient. I operated according to a different set of rules. I could leave property for up to two hours at a time, provided I got approval from my counselor first and got all the paperwork signed and into the hands of the residential property staff.

There was this girl (Heather!) that I had added on Facebook at some point, thinking that she was someone else. Sometime later, after her name popped up a few times, I actually checked her page and realized she wasn’t who I thought. She was pretty and we had mutual friends in Sarasota; I thought it was strange that I didn’t know her (or at least have some idea of who she was), but [whatever]. Now – in January – I saw a post of hers: “When I do good at work, I like to reward myself by breaking out with ‘THIS GIRL IS ONE FIREEE.’ Customers love me.” I had no idea what that lyric was from, but I thought that was pretty fucking cute. I responded with “In theory, if I had an internet crush on you – how would you feel about that?” The next day, she commented on something I posted, I responded, and we started emailing back and forth. Within a couple days, we were spending hours exchanging messages. I liked her a lot and I realized really quickly that there was something different this time. The last few girls that I had dated, I was constantly asking myself whether or  not I really liked them… I was always having to convince myself that it was genuine for [this reason] or [that reason]. I didn’t have to convince myself of anything this time. I was unqualifiedly into this girl. I somehow coaxed her into agreeing to come up to visit me (in rehab). And I got her phone number and started calling her instead of writing her because that seemed like the healthy, brave thing to do.

Funny aside: The three Rational Anthem kids were amongst our mutual friends. After Heather and I had been writing each other for all of a day or so, I called each of them and said something like: “I’m going to ask you about someone but – before I give you the name – I need to warn you to speak carefully because this is the girl I’m going to marry. What can you tell me about Heather Pierce?” Admittedly, those calls were partially motivated by something authentic and partially by my own enjoyment of how perpetually lovesick I seemed to make myself. As miserable as it made me at times, I thought there was something cute or funny about it.

So she was interested in coming to see me but that didn’t mean that my counselor was actually going to approve it. And I was fairly certain that even if she allowed this girl to come see me, there was no way she’d actually let me leave the courtyard/property with her. But she did. She and the rest of the treatment staff decided that in light of everything, the best approach was to allow it and monitor it through my sessions. Talk to me about it, counsel me, and just make sure that I didn’t somehow lose my shit as a consequence. It was one thing to keep me off heroin, but to keep me off girls was pretty much impossible. Better to let me get involved now, while they could help me along the way, then wait until I was out on my own and not under their care and guidance twenty-two to twenty-four hours a day.

There’s so much more that I could say, but I’ve got another piece that I can use to tell more of this story. Her first visit was January 29th. I made and gave this to her on February 12th, the night of our fourth “date.”


I feel pretty good today. Not manically good, not hyper-excellent, but just good. Nothing is bothering me or clawing at me. It’s been a while since I painted. I made one piece on the 3rd, but it’s for a record so I’m not able to share it until the release is announced. Still, that was a week ago, so last night I decided to try and paint. Rather than take out a blank canvas, I pulled out one that I had painted a few months back but didn’t really care for. I repainted it and then decided to let what I had dry before I kept going with it. So I pulled out a second piece and repainted that And then decided to let that one dry too. Then I took out a piece that I started when I was sitting on the ledge, looking out over the water, and really having a hard time. I didn’t finish any of them last night.

Today I picked that first one back up and I guess it’s sort of finished now. It doesn’t look quite like my other pieces. Most noticeably, it’s missing any text. Well, it says “OKAY,” but not in any way that most people would spot it. I spent a lot of time on it, but it doesn’t seem quite right. I think that – maybe – I need to move away from paints for a little bit and work with a less fluid medium. And maybe work on some less abstract kinds of projects. I have some cartoons in my head that I’ve been meaning to draw, so it might be a good time to actually put those down on paper.

"Okay." 8/10/13. Acrylics and resin sand on a stretched canvas. 10x13".
“Okay.” August 10th, 2013. Acrylics and resin sand on a stretched canvas. 10×13″.

I reflected on how I’m feeling – on how I’m doing, overall – and I decided that I’m okay. During the painting process, I made myself look at the areas of my life that are… awry – in one sense or another. To see if maybe I could pull that into the painting and work with it. The only thing that came to mind was family. I’m not on speaking terms with two of my three siblings. I’m not on speaking terms with my mom. And the last interaction I had with my dad was earlier in the week, via text, and I told him to “fuck off.” And haven’t talked to him since then.

My dad’s done a lot for me lately, so I feel like I need to take a step to repair that but, at the same time, he said something that upset me. Still, “fuck off” probably wasn’t the correct response to that. I guess if I think about it – in each of these situations – I’m waiting for the other person to make it better when – really – if I want it to be better, I should probably take responsibility for that myself.

Which isn’t to say that I want to do that in each case. While it’d be pretty great if I could have good relationships with my parents and siblings, I’m not entirely sure that it’s even possible. Actually, I’m quite certain that it’s not. And that’s okay. I’m not aware of any rule that says I have to get along with everyone I’m related to. Life is easier without some of these people. And while – generally – I’m not interested in taking “easy ways out,” I can’t take on everything. Everyone has a breaking point. Somewhere along the line, what I know (or even what I want) doesn’t matter anymore. I get overwhelmed and negative feelings take hold. I’m not going to push myself into dealing with things that have the potential to ruin my day. Not today anyway. Outcomes aren’t guaranteed and now matter how I approach it…

[I’m done talking about this now]

I’m not stressed out about money anymore. Everything worked out this week and I don’t have a reason to be anymore. Which is a relief. And I’m grateful for that. I have all of the tools I need to maintain an income right now, I just need to remember to use them. For example, I still have a box of antique dolls and other stuff given to me (to sell on eBay) that I get to keep a share of the profits on. Granted, spending time creating eBay listings isn’t all that different from any other job, but I can do it on my own schedule and take time out for myself when I need it.

Having an online journal is tricky. When I was keeping a journal just for myself (with no intention of ever sharing it at all) I wrote differently. There are things I’d mention and things I wouldn’t. There are definitely more substantial, personal examples I could come up with, but – for example – Mike sent me the new Like Bats EP yesterday and it’s really awesome. And if this were a private journal, right now I’d be writing about why I think it’s awesome. But there’s something awkward about switching gears like that, here, online. Similarly, I joked with myself a lot more in my private journal, but – in this context – I find myself forcing myself to be serious so much of the time. Which just isn’t fun. And I like having fun.

Okay, I feel better about it now. That statement alone made me feel better about it. I’m gonna go listen to the Like Bats EP really loudly, smoke a cigarette, and then work on something else for a while. Today’s been good so far and I’m gonna keep it that way.

Oh – also, the fourth painting from “The Weak End” series in in the Gallery. If you don’t see the statement when you click this link, it’s just because you need to scroll down a little bit.