Art is a discipline, but it is first and foremost a spiritual discipline. The work of art is a revelation of spiritual truth, but it is also a personal struggle to achieve that truth.
As an artist and a “creative”, I struggle with my obsessions, illusions, and addictions. So do most other people like myself.
Most people think of addiction as being hooked on certain substances. But as I have discovered, in exploring 12-Step programs, that is also about character defects which impair judgment.
In this genre called “recovery art”, which now occupies much of my professional work, I try to bring viewers, as well as other artists, into a state of awareness about the very difficult struggle to achieve meaning and purpose in life. But – even more importantly – it is to recognize that the struggle is not about finding fault with others or the world around us, but understand and embrace both our limitations and our God-given talents.
In other words, it’s about honesty, with ourselves and with our art.
My discovery that this was the primary mission of my art came in often painful stages. I realized slowly that there was a Higher Power – call it God, the force, or whatever – that was guiding and shaping my life, showing me how to play masterfully the hand I had and put the pieces of the puzzle that was me together.
When you play the game of life, you don’t always get dealt a great hand, or even if you have aces and face cards, you still don’t win once they’ve been played. And the puzzle you’re trying to figure out never quite comes together.
But you’re making progress. You’re on a journey. Perfection is not the goal, only the realization that you’re traveling the right road.
“Progress, not perfection” is my motto.
They first three pieces below directly say this motto in many different languages. The other pieces, including those in the show I did in Vienna in December 2013 and what I had up at the Raw Artists show in May 2014, deal in their own way with the different stages of recovery.
The start with recognition that one has a problem, or is in a serious mess, which is often communicated through dark or ambiguous colors. They progress through paintings that have a more open or an airy feel, often associated with positive emotions, as you realize that the Higher Power won’t let go of you, and you are making progress toward healing and recovery.
When I am doing “recovery art,” I use only 12” X 12” canvases with 12 in a series to reflect the familiar “12-step” process of recovery, no matter the nature of the affliction. The number 12 has a universal significance when it comes to wholeness/holiness/healing/health (all come from the same root word). There are 12 months of the year. Jesus had 12 disciples. And so forth.
As Demi Lovato says, “recovery is something you have to work on every single day and it’s something that it doesn’t get a day off.”