For many members, finding inspiration in recovery can be difficult, especially when things that are supposed to help, like medication, can cause discouraging side effects. The Recovery Center at Woodburn (RCW) in Oregon understands that there are challenges in recovery, and takes the time to work with members so they can overcome these hardships.
Sarah Lahey, a Rehab Therapist at RCW, has shared with us a story about Robert, a resident at Woodburn for the past two years, who was able to find a way to balance getting better and continuing doing what he loves: art.
This month, Robert was featured in a local art show. He shares about his recovery process and inspiration through his artist biography below.
Robert is a self-taught artist and contemporary painter from Woodburn, Oregon. His love for art started five years ago following a dark period of recovery and adjustment from a disability. An unfortunate side effect of the medications he needed for his treatment caused severe hand tremors, which he still has today. Although this was a challenging time in Robert’s life, through perseverance and a self-taught technique of bracing his hands on the surface of the canvas, he found joy in the one area he initially had very little control over: painting.
Robert is a spiritual person and sees his art as a way of giving back. Although he has done a series of delicate flowers and a songbird collection, his real joy of painting centers on the childhood delight of big machinery and earth moving vehicles.
Robert’s current work displayed in this art show evokes the iconic childhood experience of playing with Matchbox cars and Tonka Trucks. There is a hopefulness to his imagery that is tied to his future goals, yet connects back to his earliest hopes and dreams: the ones where he wished he was big enough to reach the peddles, tall enough to see over the steering wheel, and trusted enough to run the equipment. His work represents every bit of being a man, being in charge, and creating or building something that he can call his own. Both in his personal life and in his paintings, Robert strives for autonomy, independence, and freedom.
Robert has lived all over Oregon, but favors the more rural places where he has the space to dream. His paintings are acrylic on canvas and his signature works consist of bold, bright colors, playfully capturing his perspective of trucks and construction vehicles in action. This is his first show.