“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” –Henry Ward Beecher
Throughout history, various forms of art have been used as a means of expression and communication. For addicts and alcoholics in early recovery, the idea of being creative can sometimes be a daunting experience. In the beginning, many of us experience low self-worth and self-confidence. Being asked to be artistic can seem like such a tall order and fear of failing may prevent us from making an honest attempt. At Sober College, clients have the opportunity and support to participate in art block, one part of our Creative Arts Program, on a weekly basis. During this time, clients are encouraged to experiment with various artistic mediums as a form of therapy, while simultaneously getting in touch with their inner creativity.
During art block, clients may get in touch with the artist within by following the activity planned for the day, or by venturing off on their own to create something else … something that reflects their current mood or frame of mind. Whether creating through watercolor, paint, clay or pen and pencil, a clients’ options are nearly unlimited. Clients are also given the opportunity to participate in lyrics group or improvisation class during art block. For the music or poetry inclined, lyrics group invites participants to receive feedback from their peers on any pieces they may be working on. It gives clients the chance to not only express themselves through music and poetry, but also to make improvements on and grow in their craft. In improvisation class, Colin, the film director at Sober College, leads the group by initiating a variety of exercises aimed at helping participants improve their ability to think on the fly. A great deal of laughter results from these exercises as clients meander their way through plot twists and stories provided by one another in order to create a story.
One of the greatest things about art is that there is almost no wrong way to go about it. And, when they create art, clients enjoy a new, alternative method of conveying experiences and expanding communication. Art is a medium through which our imaginations can take shape and grow. It helps us rekindle our creativity by challenging us to express our thoughts, feelings and emotions in a non-verbal way. Art can provide such an introspective experience that it sheds light on issues that were previously laying dormant in our subconscious.
For me, art has showcased the fact that imperfections can create the most beauty. It has proven to me that each piece of work can be a cumulative representation of one’s own experiences and perceptions on life, for no piece of art will ever be exactly the same.
In recovery, it is important to understand that the journeys we take towards our eventual “rebirth” may be similar, but they are never the same. As we find sobriety and start seeing the beauty of life again, we can finally move forward in creating our own original masterpiece.