Ling Sigstedt

I started drinking at 13. Hiding in my room, I invented a world with a rapidograph pen and watercolors, then attended art school in New York city but drinking and drugs took precedence. I worshiped famous drunken artists that justified my lifestyle. Moving to Colorado, I began a career in commercial art but heavy drinking turned to depression and suicidal ideation. In 1989 I painted myself drunk, my internal organs exposed. Some concerned friends took me to a meeting.

In sobriety I painted over the canvas of me drinking, then destroyed it. My design career excelled, but I stopped painting and avoided making art by making excuses. Eight years ago after some 12-step writing, I admitted that I wanted to paint, but was terrified to fail. I quit being afraid.

The dishonesty of denying my art by attaching it to drinking and drugs corroded my sobriety. Without oil painting I would have crept back to bitterness and fear, perhaps the bottle. Today, 32 years later, I hike and take pictures to paint from. I treasure my sobriety, meditate, sponsor women, attend meetings and bask in the sunlight through the trees then paint the landscapes I find on my journey.

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Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment.