I began this series with the creation of “Addiction” in January of 2014. Shortly thereafter, someone was interested in purchasing it, but for some reason I was just not able to part with it. Given the personal nature of the work and the sense of release it had provided me, I just wasn’t ready to let it out of my presence so quickly – so I sold a print of the work instead. About 3 months later, I began feeling as if there was still something left unsaid, as if something about the work was incomplete. I was sitting in my studio just staring at the image when a realization suddenly hit me! The work was incomplete because I had not yet communicated the totality of my experience. The addiction, my addiction – was not the last word. It was only the beginning of the tale, and every story must have a middle and an ending. It was in that moment that the impetus for “Withdrawal” and “Hope” were confirmed deep within me. The final piece, “Hope” was completed sometime in June of 2014.
The impetus for this image is based upon my own experiences and struggles with addiction. I wanted to capture and communicate many of the feelings which accompanied the addiction cycle within a single striking image that would communicate the sense of isolation, despair, and agony that one encounters deep within the cycle. The curled-up figure projects a feeling of dejection and hopelessness which seems to pervade every aspect of the image’s pictorial landscape. One could also associate the bowing of the figure with the notion of shame and guilt that is often present to synergistically drive the addictive process. The head and fingers are purposely skewed and misshapen to symbolize the skewing of reality and thought which the addict is often completely oblivious to during the course of addiction. In my experience there was often a sensation of burning, both literally and figuratively that would ebb and flow but could never be satiated or quenched. Here the flames can be seen as primarily surrounding the figure as they permeate deep within.
I wanted to create a very stark contrast between each of the images but most especially when depicting the withdrawal experience. In this case, the central feature which most distinguishes “Withdrawal” from “Addiction” is the reorientation of the flames from without to within. The burning is no longer something mostly exterior that permeates the being – but is now emanating from deep within the figure itself. Notice that within this image (and the one preceding it) the reds, oranges, and yellows are indicative of an impure flame. This shrunken, emaciated figure peers out toward the viewer. There is an obvious sense of pain and suffering within that burns not only the body itself but also the soul and spirit which are symbolized by the figure’s tense posture and empty vacuous gaze.
I often work in a manner that tries to integrate certain aspects of the actual material into the image itself, and in this case, I make use of the yellow-orange-black bleed around the figure’s perimeter to give the impression that the very paper on which the image sits is burning as well. In the original you can see that the washes are somewhat gritty and that there are scratches and other imperfections upon the surface thus adding to the sensation of being consumed within the flames.
As the final image within this triptych “Hope” is indicative of new beginnings, sanity, and the resilience that accompanies spiritual renewal. I purposefully wanted the mood of this piece to be drastically different from its predecessors because the journey of recovery is truly a rebirth in every possible way. The road of recovery is one that brings peace, a reconnection to reality, and begins the journey toward deeper self-knowledge and spiritual insight, if one is willing to work at cultivating a new way of living that accompanies sobriety.
The pastel gray and lavender are symbolic of the higher chakras, while the cool blues indicate higher chakras, healing, and the presence of a pure flame. The figure is now seated in a meditative posture and is facing the viewer. The flames once again surround and permeate the figure but in a drastically different manner than before. In this image, the figure and flames are somewhat luminescent due to layers of washes integrated with glaze in order to give the surface a textured, almost pearlescent effect.
If you would like to purchase a print click one of the titles below:
If you would like to purchase the original image, please contact me via email: