about the artwork
the discovery of art therapy and a quiet mind
I am not a seasoned artist. In fact, I just began painting in April 2020.
The artwork featured on this site are creations born from art therapy. I was introduced to art therapy while in a Partial Hospital Program for severe depression and suicidal ideation. I hadn’t colored, drawn, painted or even crafted for decades. I am an uptight, serious, business-focused executive. The thought of even that person painting was laughable to me.
I have a hard time with doing things that I consider “wasting time.” That’s why my “hobby” was work prior to my breakdown.
On one of my first days in the Partial Program, they gave us blank mandalas and wanted us to create our own design inside the circle about what we were feeling. I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to make something symmetrical and perfect. I felt anything but.
My first motion, with a colored pencil on paper, was to draw a dark, jagged black line across the whole sheet of paper and outside of the circle. I started coloring the bottom half in grays and blacks. Not only did I feel a sense of relief, but “breaking the rule” of marking outside the lines and not creating a symmetrical picture was very therapeutic. I’ve spent decades trying to keep up the illusion of being perfect to the outside world. I want to do everything right. I want to be known for staying within the lines.
As the class went on, the hour passed in what felt like moments. Thoughts swirled through my head about what I was feeling or thinking, and I put it onto paper. I have journaled a lot in the past to get thoughts out, but this was something new and very different.
I felt lighter after having created the drawing. As I reflected, I realized for the first time in a very long time that my brain had quieted while I was working on the piece. You don’t understand how huge that is for me. My brain is on 24/7; the only question is, “How loudly is it talking to me?”
My journaling has been used to turn into sketches, sketches to canvas and then canvas to paintings. I realized this must be what it’s like when you hear about people who can clear their minds during meditation and focus on one thing at a time. (I’ve never been a good meditator, despite many attempts!) I pull up uncomfortable, sad, scary, hopeless, apathetic moments or memories, and I allow myself to sit with it while I create a piece of art from beginning to end.
I have plenty of happy thoughts and memories too. But given the therapeutic aspect for me, I have a lot of ill feelings to get out of the way first.
I have no art experience—unless maybe you count the pictures I would paint in elementary or middle school.
Sure, some paintings may look like something your third grader would bring home. While the painting may be “simple,” every painting has been thought through in meticulous detail. I’m hoping over time that my painting skills will improve. But even if they don’t, the skill level of the painting isn’t really the point. I am trying to embrace being imperfect.
I purposely have avoided watching any videos or reading about how to properly oil paint. I want my paintings to be born of whatever strikes me. I’m not concerned about doing anything “right.” I want to paint as I feel, and that means not trying to recreate a structure that’s been prescribed by someone else in teaching videos.
I typically will start off with some journaling. It’s a good way for me to try and pull thoughts and feelings to the surface. Sometimes I’m not ready to put a specific situation or memory down in words. I will think about it and then write loosely about the situation. I use my thoughts to “prime” myself before trying to take those feelings and turn them into something expressive on paper.
Next, I will sketch ideas that come to mind. Many times, these are basic. Sometimes they are just pen or paper with scribbles about what colors I am imagining. Despite their basic appearance, my sketches sometimes go through multiple rounds and can take upward of an hour from all the thought I put into making different elements express what I’m thinking.
Usually a day later, I will pick out the size canvas that feels right for the picture and lightly sketch my drawings onto canvas. Sometimes the design changes a bit if new ideas come to me. Sometimes the sketch morphs a bit more as I sketch it again, realizing I want to add some additional elements or change something. This process is usually another hour or so.
Then the real fun begins with the painting. My office has become a makeshift art studio with canvases, brushes and paints lining the walls, waiting for the next painting session. I’ve found that every painting takes four to five hours for round one. I usually need to wait until I have a good block of time because I don’t want to be a couple hours in—deep in my feelings and thoughts—and then stop. I usually like to put on quiet, relaxing music with no lyrics, then open a window and get to work.
Once I’ve completed round one, I let the painting dry for a few days. I come back for another pass to try and round out what I was envisioning in my mind and try to get it into the canvas.
As I mentioned before, I am working on embracing imperfection. Old me wouldn’t even paint, much less share it with others, because I would know it’s not perfect. When I paint, I am very mindfully refraining from going back to that line that “could be straighter.” I won’t touch up the accidental smudge I found. I won’t pick out a brush hair that I’m seeing in the paint. Those imperfections are a labor for me and part of the art (and self-therapy).
Each piece of art has at least a dozen meaningful or symbolic elements incorporated into it. (Some pieces have more than 20!) Some aspects are layered and hold multiple meanings to me, such as the jagged line or cutouts you will see in many pieces.
An edited version of my journaling will be posted on the site, along with the pieces of art. This may provide some insight. However, I do not intend to share the specific meanings and intentional elements. One of the beautiful things, in my opinion, about art is that the same piece can hold different meanings and bring up different emotions from person to person.
Despite my amateur status, I did make sure to do my research and have invested in choosing high-end/quality products and supplies to create my paintings, prints and frames. The canvas I use is professional grade, primed, 100% cotton canvas.
The professional grade oils I use have no fillers and are linseed oil based. I have more than 50 quality brushes and scrapers that I use for my paintings.
All my paintings have been infused with lavender oil, which is proven to help lift mood, reduce anxiousness and improve sleep.
My paintings are professionally photographed to ensure reproduction prints are the highest quality possible.
My frames are hand-crafted, wooden floating frames and wooden hanger frames. They are simple but beautiful.
My Giclee prints are made to last a lifetime. The printer I chose specializes in creating prints for exhibitions, galleries, art shows, commercial installations and museums.
Art for Sale
Originals: This is the rarest option available, and it comes with some special perks!
The original sketch(es) comes with the painting.
It includes a signed certificate of authenticity.
The painting will come in the wooden floating frame as displayed in the photos.
The full, unedited, corresponding journal entry is mounted inside the piece of artwork, typically peeking through a window cut into the piece of art.
Artist Proofs: Only five APs (three canvas, two paper) are available per piece of art. I plan to sell one canvas, one paper and keep one of each for myself. The last AP will be reserved for charitable purposes.
Only two APs are available for purchase.
It includes a signed certificate of authenticity noting AP status and limited numbering (1/5, etc.).
Limited Runs: Limited run paintings will be noted on the banner across the item in the shop. These prints and originals will be at a higher rate due to the limited status. All limited runs will be 300 or less prints for purchase. The limited run status will also be discussed in the product information.
Only 300 or less prints are available for purchase.
This includes a signed certificate of authenticity noting limited run status and limited numbering (4/250, etc.).
Giclee Prints: Prints will be available in paper, loose canvas or stretched canvas options.
Prints will be available in different sizes, if available. Wooden hanger frames are available for paper and loose canvas options. Floating frames are available for stretched canvas purchased.
In order to fulfill the mission (link to The Mission page) of AdDAB, any piece of artwork where the original is still available is open for sponsorship. New pieces of art can also be created specifically for a sponsorship.
Sponsorships typically are for individuals or organizations that have a tie to mental health and wellness, and would like to raise awareness while fundraising for one of their favorite mental health non-profits. This furthers AdDAB’s mission to increase resources and awareness of mental wellness for our youth.
This unique partnership can earn the sponsor the original piece of art while promoting an individual, organization, the chosen non-profit and AdDAB. Win-win-win-win.
For more information, check out our Sponsorships page.