Recovery Gals Art Exchange – Emerge

Have I told you lately how much I love the internet? Well, I do. The power of the internet is so great that people can get sober using the internet, find support groups for anything they’re going through, and find lifelong friends, all on the internet. Through my blog and other sober people’s blogs and websites, I’ve found a ton of amazing people who I am lucky enough to call my friends.

Through their own recovery artwork and a private Facebook group of sober women, I found Tammi Salas and Sondra Talbert Primeaux, who started a group of women in recovery who share art. The group is called Recovery Gals Art Exchange. Tammi and Sondra pair partners together for each art exchange. The art is shared on the equinoxes and solstices and is created in line with a chosen recovery-related theme. Past themes included Surrender and Reflection, this spring equinox’ theme was Emerge. The spring equinox was March 20 and so, I am a bit late in posting this.

I have to confess I am not much of an artist. I like writing and I like words, but painting? Drawing? Crafting? I not only lack in those areas, I’m pretty bad at them. I even joke around with my husband (is that the first time I’m calling him that on my blog!?) that when we have children he will need to be in charge of arts and crafts because I will probably embarrass our child with whatever I try to make. But I had seen the art exchange art being shared on social media and it fascinated me. I was told I could write something if I wanted, it was all up to me, so I decided to join the exchange.

I was paired with a lovely woman from the UK named Ali. As soon as I heard the theme was Emerge I was happy because I love the word Emerge. It means to come up or arise, to come into existence or develop. Knowing this definition I tried to brainstorm on how I could make my feelings about Emerge into a piece of art for Ali. I knew I wanted to write something, but I also wanted to take a stab at being crafty, even if it didn’t come out as beautiful as I’d like. I thought, if there was ever a chance to practice art, to try and become crafty, this is it, right?

I gave some thought to my partner. She had told me she was just beginning this sobriety journey so I wanted my art to provide hope for her, empower her to emerge, and to explain what an emergence in recovery might look like. First, I started with what I know – words. I used colorful post-its, similar to those that Tammi and Sondra used to assign partners in our group! On each lime green post-it I wrote one letter from the word emerge. Starting with each letter I wrote a feeling or piece of advice for Ali.

  • Entrance to a new life.
  • Meditation will take time, but it will be key.
  • Even when it’s hard it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.
  • Render the true you.
  • Gentle love and kindness, especially with yourself.
  • Exit from the cycle of chaos.

I knew I wanted to incorporate color into my project. I went to the store and bought a white piece of poster board as I envisioned the final project hanging on a wall, and some colorful construction paper.

From there, I got the idea to incorporate adult coloring books into my art. I have always loved coloring books. Before adult coloring books became a thing, I still colored children’s color books. It has always been a satisfying pastime for me. But now that they have adult coloring books I buy them whenever I can. I decided to cut the letters of the word Emerge from my different coloring books. I wanted a different pattern for each letter. After I cut the letters out I colored them in using colored pencils and sharpie markers. I wanted to make the letters bold and beautiful.

Following the letter-making, I knew I would put the letters on the white poster board, but I thought that it needed something else. I decided to add a background of construction paper. I chose black, purple, and yellow. The letters start on black paper because when we start sobriety we are often at our darkest. We feel there is no way out, that we are lost, and that negative energy has taken over. As the letters continue you see purple paper in the background. Purple has always been a color I am drawn to. Purple comes with a sense of mystic and royal qualities and is often well liked by creative or eccentric types. It is the color of the crown chakra. Opening this chakra taps into a deep spiritual understanding. The color purple is calming and encourages creativity. To me, it symbolizes the middle of an emergence. The final background color I used was yellow. It’s my favorite color and I think it symbolizes a total emergence and a sign of basking in the light. Yellow is the color of optimism, enlightenment, and happiness.

I put the final product together and wrote the advice and phrases I had crafted according to the letters in emerge below the big colorful letters. I used a silver sharpie to write them. I cut the poster board down to a shorter size and my project was complete! My hope was that Ali would feel empowered to emerge on her own sobriety journey when she opened my gift. I hope the small pieces of advice and colorful artwork encourages her and gives her something pretty to look at.

I was proud of myself for completing this project. The Recovery Gals Art Exchange has allowed me to expand my own artistic capabilities and think outside the box. It also allowed me to really reflect on what an emergence in recovery is. I enjoyed getting to share my work with another woman in recovery.

The best part was receiving Ali’s art. Her art was impressively creative and special to me. So special, that it brought me to tears. She designed an egg (with beautiful colors!) to represent beginnings. The egg has been opened and inside it are tiny scrolls of paper tied together with sparkly white yarn. On the scrolls are examples of all the things that have emerged from my sobriety. I open one scroll a day. I loved her idea and her attention to detail!

Art is a wonderful way to express yourself, especially in recovery. I’m incredibly grateful I decided to join this art exchange and I’m looking forward to the next one.

If you are a woman in recovery and are interested in joining this art exchange, please send me an email at