Under the Influence

I tell you I love to paint, but more specifically I love to grab my gear and get outside and try my luck at capturing the great outdoors. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as I’m painting I’m good. I’ve been told I paint all the time, that my paintings are just multiplying like bunnys out there.

Sounds to me like I’ve traded one addiction for another…

…and to celebrate 17 years of sobriety I think I’m going to go outside and paint… again.

Some of you knew me “then” and others only now. I’m different, yet I think about it and I see I’m still the same. I was never the life of parties, I didn’t dance on tables with lamp shades on my head. At least not to my recollection. I was just addicted to drinking and drugging. I tell myself “just one drink” and then that was it. Who was I fooling? I kept drinking till all be beer was gone, or I passed out somewhere. I was your typical alcoholic, if there is a typical one.

Stats say that 1 in 8 people have a drinking problem, that’s like 42,000,000 people in America, that’s mind boggling. Compare that to 2.1 professional artists in the USA, sounds like I stand a much better chance of being a drunk as opposed to a working artist. I wonder how many of them are addicts, I’m sure that statistic is out there somewhere.

Anyway, I was that 1 in 8 guy.

I won’t go into the details, I did that too many times in the smoke filled halls of AA, but 17 years ago I had my last drink. It was not pretty for sure, and I was hurting myself and others around me. But I did stop thanks to those who still cared, the Roeland Park Police department, and the program of Alcholics Anonymous.

I just finished a book by Stephen King called “Doctor Sleep” and it’s what happened to the little boy Danny from the “Shining”  after the Overlook hotel burnt to the ground. Danny was an alcoholic too, and I found the book very interesting and caught myself relating to much in the book. Stephen King has a great way of making one relate to his characters in his novels. Like me, the protaganist in this book, Danny, went to Alcoholics Anonymous to help him with his drinking and drugging problems. As I read the book I heard the hundreds of AA slogans coming back to me, “Easy Does It”, and “One Day at a Time”. They were powerful things to help this troubled soul crawl from my personal bottom that brought me here.

But unlike Dan, I do not still go to these meetings, instead I paint. I paint to better cope with things around me, I paint when I’m feeling happy, I paint when I’m sad. To get lost into another world of your own creation is a wonderful feeling, it’s euphoric, it’s my new “high”. They tell you that you’ve got to find a “Higher Power” to help stay sober, and I think I have. My higher power is the power to create. Will it keep me from drinking again? I have no idea, but I try to keep fresh how it was for me then, and how it is for me now, and work each new day.

I’ve come a long way, but it’s always just 12 ounces away.

Like I said, I’ve traded one addiction for another. I think it’s a better choice, actually it’s my only choice. So in the meantime “Sha la la la la la live for today”


“Cheers, I’ve made it another day!”


  1. Mary Drastal on November 8, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    My brother is AA. My church hosts AA groups every night of the week. Thank God for an organization that reaches people at their lowest. Best Wishes on your bright future!

    • admin on November 9, 2019 at 4:38 am

      Thanks Mary, and best of luck to your brother. It’s a wonderful organization that has a pretty good track record. Best to you and yours,

  2. Lorraine McFarland on November 8, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Congrats on 17 years. You are strong, Greg. I’m happy for you.

  3. Maren Phillips on November 8, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Hats off to you, Greg. Hard work, risky work, and strength combined. All of us who have met you or known you are richer for it. Thanks for your honesty and for being real! Keep that painting addiction going! HUGS…

    • admin on November 9, 2019 at 4:41 am

      Thanks Maren, the only addiction I have right now that rivals painting is my cookies and milk. But I can live with that. Appreciate the nice comment and hope to see you in 2020. Greg

  4. Marty Coulter on November 8, 2019 at 3:51 pm


  5. Lynette Hayes on November 8, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    I am so glad I had the blessing of knowing you if not well, at least at an artistic level. Your joy and encouragement meant so much to me. Then to know this after the fact , you are an even greater mentor for all who acknoledge we have weakness and demons and people enter our lives for a reason. Today we celebrate with you, and are thankful you share the good, the bad, the ugly! It makes us more honest with ourselves. God is good! You came into our lives at a tome we needed someone. That my good man is no accident! May you paint on!

    A friend, Lynette Hayes

    • admin on November 9, 2019 at 4:47 am

      What a wonderful thing to say Lynette. Things happen for a reason it seems, so to make the best of all is what I try to do. Keep celebrating as you can, and live to the fullest. It’s why we are here, that and to help each other if we are able. That I hope will be how I’m remembered, art is secondary.

      But like you said, I will paint on,
      My best,

  6. Tom Brown on November 8, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Cheers buddy…proud to know you!!

    • admin on November 9, 2019 at 4:47 am

      thanks my friend, the pleasure is all mine.
      Hope to see you in February


  7. Louanne Hein on November 9, 2019 at 1:11 am

    Such honesty from the heart. Passion lives!

  8. William Reed on November 9, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    God bless you Greg, I too have 17 years clean and sober with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous and a loving God. I now use painting as my meditation and link to my higher power. Art is a much better addiction than the booze and drugs with no regrets and no apologies. Stay sober my friend.

    • admin on November 10, 2019 at 4:40 am

      Outstanding William, and 17 is a great number, 18 is even better. Isn’t painting a wonderful tool, though at times it can be a bit frustrating, but in a good way. No regrets, no apologies, I like that. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Greg

  9. Beverly Amundson on November 10, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    You are an inspiration to all who are privileged to know you and you make us all feel like we’re your friends. I’ve been blessed to know you thru painting but now we have another connection as I have a daughter who has walked the same walk you’ve traveled. Her near death experience and renewed faith in God has allowed her to return to life. Just wish she could find her passion. I will pray for your continued strength in fighting this horrible illness of addiction. Proud to be able to say I know and consider you a friend.

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