Recovery Gals Art Exchange – Abundance

It’s that time again, or was that time again, but as with a lot of stuff I am late. I once again had the pleasure of participating in Tammi and Sondra’s Recovery Gals Art Exchange project. This time for the summer solstice, with the theme of abundance. Abundance – a very large quantity of something, the state or condition of having a copious quantity of something; plentifulness.

 Tammi and Sondra's word map for the Abundance theme

Tammi and Sondra's word map for the Abundance theme

When this topic was assigned to us months ago, and I was given my partner (Art exchange creator Tammi Salas!) I felt like it would be easier than our previous assignment, “Emerge.” I was feeling abundant and I figured it would be easy to translate that into a work of art. But I was wrong. I didn’t foresee that I would be going through difficulties of my own, post-wedding depression, falling into and out of friendships, working through transitions with my partner. This ended up with me avoiding the project and not knowing quite where to start. The summer solstice was on June 21 and I just finished and sent off my project to Tammi this week.

From the beginning I knew I wanted to attempt to paint something. Like I’ve mentioned previously, I am not an artist! I don’t even consider myself to be artsy and definitely unable to paint. But being in the art exchange group I’ve been reading and seeing other women’s artwork, advice, and tips. I see the beautiful paintings they make. I asked what was the best type of paint to get for a beginner who knows nothing. Some people recommended watercolor, while others mentioned acrylic. I didn't know if mine would be beautiful, but I wanted to know what it felt like to paint, to express myself through painting. I went out and bought both and started with the watercolor. I know no real painting techniques or how to even start. For some reason, I knew right away that for this project I wanted to paint three separate paintings.

The first painting came to me as I put the brush to the page. It turned into a funny looking mountain, which is actually a volcano with lava and ash coming out of it, and ladders on the side to climb up the mountain. It portrayed how abundance can be an uphill battle, an explosion of sorts, and at that moment that’s what I felt like I was climbing in my life. I also used circles at the base which were inspired by Tammi and her love of circles!

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The second painting is an abstract style which was super fun to make because I got to throw paint on the page and really express my emotions. Again, I had no real technique. The shapes just came out of my brain onto the page. To me this painting represents the overwhelming feeling of abundance, when I have too much going on in my life, when I overcommit and I feel it can get messy and anxiety-ridden.

The third and final painting was an attempt at a garden of colorful tulips, my favorite flower. I made this painting with the positive side of abundance in mind. Abundance has also been plentiful, colorful, and beautiful in my life. Abundance entered my life fully when I entered recovery. It gives me the opportunity to bloom and grow, just like a tulip. Although my tulips are obviously not the most aesthetically pleasing, I’m glad I left my comfort zone for this painting, and all of these paintings.  

 My attempt at a tulip garden! Don't laugh too hard.

My attempt at a tulip garden! Don't laugh too hard.

I know the point of the art exchange project is to help us evolve as artists, to help us express ourselves via art, and to connect with other women in recovery and their art. It has done all of that for me and so much more. I would never think I could attempt a painting, but because of the women in this group, it became feasible for me. I decided to try it because what do I have to lose? I found it enjoyable, therapeutic, and meaningful. I found it enlightening to look back at these paintings and understand what I was feeling at the time I made them. I feel accomplished in a way. I feel these paintings helped me as a transitional moment in my life. I felt even better sending them off to my friend and art exchange partner, Tammi, a closure of sorts. 

I am excited to continue with new art that is outside the writing realm. Maybe I'll even learn some actual painting techniques. 

I’m grateful to know all of these wonderful women in recovery via the internet. They help me get in touch with myself, my recovery, and find connection in a new way. 

When I share my art I become vulnerable all over again, and for me, that is an important pillar of staying sober and accountable.

If the Recovery Gals Art Exchange is something you want to be a part of, please send me an email Kelly@sobersenorita.com.

 All three of my paintings that are now in Tammi's hands

All three of my paintings that are now in Tammi's hands