Bill Knight is painting his way through recovery.
As of this publishing, Bill Knight has been sober for 6 months. He experienced homelessness for a period of time, but has been in stable housing since January of 2008 through Seattle Housing Authority. He has always struggled with clinical depression, but found real support when he started painting.
Bill came to Path with Art through Recovery Café and Full Life Solstice. In 2016, he took a class with Teaching Artist Marni Sheppard, and felt incredibly encouraged by his classmates. In a multimedia class with Teaching Artist Michelle de la Vega, he painted, “Eggs on Toast,” the painting pictured here, which is what his father made him for breakfast as a child.
He enjoyed painting so much that he started painting more and more, building up his collection and giving his paintings away to the people around him. Everyone told him he shouldn’t be giving them away, and that he could easily be selling his work.
“When I go to my morning recovery support group, I show them my paintings and see the joy on their faces… watching peoples’ faces change when they see my work warms my heart.”
For Bill, making art and sharing it with community is a powerful experience – it’s dignifying to have people recognize his work, engage with it, and be moved by it. He still plans to make peoples’ days by giving away some of his paintings, but he is now working with a friend to put together a business plan.
“I now have a goal. Art was the catalyst to get me back into recovery – I sold my first painting and I was so excited, but then I drank the money right up I was so disappointed in myself, I turned around and went right back to my support group,” he says. “If I’m going to do this and make it work, I have to do it sober.”
Being able to make something that he could share with other people is incredibly validating, and helps Bill to feel like his skills are valuable, like he is valuable. Since January of 2018, his paintings have been on permanent display and for sale at the Belltown Barber. The day of this interview, he was on his way to the Unity on Union, a nonprofit bookstore rooted in recovery and community, where his work is on display and for sale.