Artist finds motivation to overcome addiction

Andrea Montoya | Special to Viewpoints

May 29, 2014

The bristles glide on the piece of paper and with each stroke, a story is being told. People of all ages gather around an artwork display to bask in the sea of emotions that was required to complete the pieces.

On a small wooden table at Riverside City College, six pairs of depressed portraits with eyes that demonstrate a sense of hopelessness sat above a label, “Meth Heads.” The artist, RCC student Teresa Bone sought to exemplify these characters as a reason not to continue her struggle with drug abuse.

“I just looked for the ones who looked the most lost in their eyes,” Bone said. “I had severe anxiety during my withdrawal and I didn’t want to relapse, so I would look at pictures like these to motivate me to stay on track.”

Bone found it therapeutic to paint the individuals because she did not wish to display in herself the same numbness that was found in their eyes. She wanted to send the viewers a cautionary message at the “Art of Abilities,” an event hosted by Disabled Student Services, to not to get involved with drugs.

The paintings were portraits that portrayed the physical negative effects of substance abuse and how it could occur within a short amount of time. Amazed by how quickly the drug was able to show its effect, Bone chose to depict the changes that occurred the most rapidly from before-meth and after-meth mug shots.

“This one was shot in 2006 and this one was in 2008,” Bone said as she pointed at a portrait. “It happened so rapidly.”

Bone utilized granulated coffee and water to paint these portraits. She discovered this medium when she had forgotten her coffee outside by the sun for a few days and when she returned, she realized that the liquid had condensed into a paste-like substance that could easily be used as paint. The mixed medium artist used coffee for this project because she did not feel that regular paint was going to be able to translate the motion and details of the mug shots.

“This was my first time coffee painting,” Bone said. “I was experimenting, it’s kind of like a water color process.”

Bone displayed several glass cups that contained dissolved coffee and water with her artwork. The lighter parts of the paintings were from a paste that was more diluted with water while the darker parts were less diluted.

It took Bone a little more than two weeks to complete her “Meth Head” project.

“I went back and revisited them because I didn’t feel like they were detailed enough,” Bone said.

Art is not only a form of self-expression, but it can serve as an aid to those who are going through life altering challenges. It guided Bone into becoming a healthier individual as well as pushed her limits as an artist as she experimented with coffee painting. Looking down once more at the disturbed faces on the table, Bone acknowledged her success.

“That’s not me,” Bone said. “It could have been, but it’s not.”