Disclaimer: NEVER cold turkey a medication. Consult your doctor and do your own independent research when starting or discontinuing a medication.

Today's warrior is this strong, beautiful and smart Canadian mom and grandma, Kathryn. I am fortunate to know her and call her my friend. This is a watercolor on paper (11"x15").

Please share if you believe in informed consent in medicine, because the truth is that most are not getting it with disastrous consequences for the individual and the whole of society. Those of you who have behind closed doors told me about your own experience with meds, I thank you for sharing your story. I will gladly share your story to the world but only when you are ready. I will also paint your portrait for FREE at no cost to you. PM me if you are interested.

Truth is the hardest pill to swallow!

#bebrave #akathisia #iatrogenesis #warrior#pillsharm #coldturkeykills #survivor #pillskill#pillsdisable
"In 1981, an extremely stressful time, I was prescribed, by the head psycho-pharmacologist at our University Hospital, an antidepressant and a benzodiazepine and told neither were addictive. Benzodiazepine dependency developed, with the anxiety again becoming overwhelming. My dose was increased accordingly, and over subsequent years dosages of both classes of drugs were increased, adjusted, types changed and more drugs added. I was told I required these “as a diabetic does insulin” for treatment resistant anxiety and depression by numerous general practitioners who took over my care and then another psychiatrist. I bought this “line” and dosed as directed. I was not informed of how one can become physically tolerant to the benzodiazepines, where more of the drug is needed to achieve the same result and therefore one becomes physiologically dependent. The results were catastrophic and the fact I’m alive today is nothing short of miraculous.

With time, my health suffered drastically and my thoughts terribly distorted. I left a failed marriage November 2010. With research, it became painfully clear that all incurred losses over the years, including over 20 years of illness (5 bedridden with nursing care), were a result of such side effects of these drugs. I no longer had family, a home, a husband and but one friend I met in the safe house. My promising career, had ended in 1991 due to illnesses, all of which have left as I reduce the drugs, as each symptom of each illness diagnosed was a side effect of the drugs or an interaction between them. Due to financial constraints, after a five month stay in a safe house, I found myself residing in a poverty and crime stricken area of the city (July 2011).

Grief, loneliness and fear was overwhelming. My mind turned to a familiar place (suicidal ideation) as resolution, but by grace, this time I questioned my “go to”. There had to be a reason which explained why I was in this predicament with such thoughts. Research soon revealed self-destructive compulsion to be another side effect. Initially I did a cold turkey of all psych drugs, narrowly escaping seizure and death. It had never been disclosed that abrupt cessation could indeed be life threatening. After two weeks, I sought emergency medical aid where concerted efforts were made to convince me I needed all the drugs. I did not relent but reluctantly went back on a third. Further internet exploration uncovered groups that dealt with this and began safely tapering as I should have from the beginning. To this day, many doctors, themselves, remain ignorant of the need for such a withdrawal process therefore causing untold harm, including suicide, to atrocious numbers of patients.

Now 5 ½ years later (December 2016), I am still tapering and beginning to reclaim my life. The dosages I was on before the cold turkey were, largely, in unheard of amounts. The injustice often leaves me in tears of rage that no consequences have been visited on those responsible but I continue and will not cease until completely rid of what I now refer to as poisons. I see, easily, another two to three years tapering before I’m finished and after that more recovery time to heal a damaged central nervous system.

My life goal is to restore firstly the relationships with my children and grandchildren. I’ve lost more years than I can count of their lives. I then want to become very involved in setting up physical places where one can receive support as needed during the horrific, long term withdrawal from these toxic substances, as well as in creating an end to the wilful, irresponsible prescription of them with alternative solutions. Perhaps then there will be less people who take their lives in the process; people I’ve met online and came to care deeply for and then grieve. This HAS to stop! It has shamefully and criminally evolved into a purposefully hidden holocaust of epidemic proportions.


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I believe that "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable" (Banksy). For this reason I have embarked in a year-long project to document the lives of "Survivors of Psychiatric Drugs : The Faces of Iatrogenic Harm." I will be painting portraits of some of the survivors of this unrecognized crime against humanity. I thank each and every one of these brave warriors for lending their image to this project and letting me tell their story. Please share if you believe in informed consent in medicine, because the truth is that most are not getting it with disastrous consequences for the individual and the whole of society.

Disclaimer: NEVER cold turkey a medication. Consult your doctor and do your own independent research when starting or discontinuing a medication.

Today I start with this smart, courageous and beautiful mother of 3, Antoinette. This is a watercolor and body color on paper (11"x15")

#bebrave #akathisia #iatrogenesis #warrior #pillsharm


"In 2002 when I was 19 I was prescribed Celexa for grief and anxiety. I can laugh now that I called this anxiety because it was a normal response to situations that were traumatizing to me at such a young age. I was in the prime of my life, I was young, healthy, active (worked out 5 days a week as had such a calm easy going demeanor). I was so happy going. My career just started as life for me was really good. Because I am so sensitive and empathetic I couldn't shake the emotions of a death that was really close to me. I went to the Dr and was told I had a chemical imbalance that could be fixed by an antidepressant.

Over the course of 10 years I turned into a non functioning 286 lb person who was no longer full of emotions and passion for life. I was depressed and void on these drugs and had no goals or motivation. I hated myself on the meds and made horrible decisions. Was tired and a robot. I thought no matter how I felt that I had to stay on the meds for life because of a chemical imbalance. I had 2 children during this time while on meds and my first born was really sick for the first 6 mos of his life from withdrawal. He had broken bones and we were being accused of abuse and he was taken away for 3 mos. In order to get him back we had to do numerous steps, including passing a lie detector test, if not we could have been sent to prison for child abuse.

In 2012 my insurance would no longer cover Lexapro that I was on at the time. I had been taken off and switched meds numerous times due to tolerance or reactions to other meds. I cold turkeyed and got extremely sick and reinstated 6 weeks later. I ended up suffering an adverse reaction that landed me in the psych ward with akathesia, suicidal urges and thoughts, insomnia, rage, derealization, depression so bad that I felt someone had ripped my soul off my body. It was so chemical in nature and all my symptoms were mental and severe. I did not have one second free from them. I could not sit still and developed severe OCD and lost 62 lbs. I was on the drugs for 6 weeks but getting worse by the minute so had to cold turkey again. The desperation and anguish of all these symptoms has been a nightmare I can't put into words. It was something out of a horror movie, and I was extremely sick. Mentally I had almost every symptom of withdrawal there is.

I am 4 and a half years off Lexapro and although I am much better than the acute days I still have most the symptoms, but to a less degree some days. I have hope this will all go whereas before I didn't have a hope in the world I would recover. It really is hard for me to put into words how much these meds have impacted my life. I just about lost everything I have including my life. I lost my career, life savings, dignity, mind, health and most importantly I have been too sick to take care and enjoy my kids the way a normal mom should. That is something I will never get back and I grieve. I hope the next couple of years will bring full healing.
Love and peace,

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Juried into 45th Annual Florida Watercolor Society Exhibition

So excited to learn that my watercolor painting "Simply Valeria" was juried into the 45th Annual Florida Watercolor Society Exhibition by juror Ted Nuttall. The exhibit will take place at the College of Central Florida Webber Gallery in Ocala, Florida from September 6th, 2016 through October 21st, 2016. Opening reception on Friday September 23rd at 5:30 PM at the Webber Gallery. I am hoping I can attend.



"Simply Valeria" - watercolor on paper (11x15 inches)

"Simply Valeria" - watercolor on paper (11x15 inches)

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"Serene" on the cover of Jerry's Artarama Summer (June 2016) catalog

Last year my watercolor painting "Serene" won an Honorable Mention in Jerry's Artarama 2015 SOHO Spring Painting Contest. Jerry's recently contacted me requesting a higher resolution image of my painting so they could use it for their Summer (June 2016) catalog. I was thrilled by the opportunity.

Jerry's recently sent me about a dozen catalogs for me to keep and give to family and friends. I love how it turned out and I am so proud and happy that they chose my painting. I want to thank photographer David Morgans from the site "Paint my Photo" for such a nice reference photo.  By the way, the painting is still available for sale. It is watercolor on watercolor paper at 15x11 inches and is currently proudly displayed in my own home :)

The cover of Jerry's Artarama Summer 2016 catalog with my watercolor painting :)

The cover of Jerry's Artarama Summer 2016 catalog with my watercolor painting :)





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Work juried into CFWS Annual Show (2016)

Ecstatic to learn that two of my watercolors ("Somewhere in Sevilla" and "Flamboyanes") have been juried into the Central Florida Watercolor Society Annual Show (2016) by juror Janet King.
The paintings will be on display at SOBO Gallery in Winter Garden, FL from Feb. 4 through April 1st, 2016.
Artist reception will be on Feb. 4 from 5:30-8:00 PM at SOBO Gallery (127 South Boyd St., Winter Garden, FL)

"Flamboyan" - watercolor on watercolor paper (22x15 inches)

"Flamboyan" - watercolor on watercolor paper (22x15 inches)

"Somewhere in Sevilla" - watercolor on watercolor paper (22x15 inches)

"Somewhere in Sevilla" - watercolor on watercolor paper (22x15 inches)

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The final poured watercolor painting

This is a continuation of my last blog post. I have worked on the poured painting a bit more. I've basically darkened some areas and added more details to the trees on the left side. They seemed unfinished to me. Overall I think I may have overdone it and somehow liked the original better, but what's new anyways LOL!

What have I learned for next time?

  • To use a non-granulating blue for pouring unless I really do want granulation. Maybe Cinerous Blue from the beginning or a phthalo.
  • To not fiddle with it so much and let the result of the pour just be for a few days without touching it! Ha!
  • To use thicker masking fluid for ease of removal.
  • To make a very careful drawing that is dark enough in areas that will get dark.
  • To prepare to get really messy and do it outside on the porch.

Overall, I really liked the process although it requires a lot of patience. What I'll do next time is to work on it over a few days together with another painting so I don't get burned out by it. I really liked the youtube tutorial by "Leslie Redhead." I got to prepare better and using a bin to catch the excess like she does will help a lot. Do not worry about wasting paint. Those excess pigments will make lovely neutrals that can be used in future paintings.

Leave me your comment and let me know if you've done a poured watercolor painting before or if you'd like to try one.

Note: Now that I look at the paintings, the top one seems to have more saturated colors, ughhh! The colors in both have the same saturation in real life, it's just always hard to capture them in photos.

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My first poured watercolor painting

So I took the plunge and finally tried a poured watercolor painting. I will say that it is a totally different approach to watercolor and it requires a completely different way of thinking. It feels very methodical for me and requires lots of patience (which I sorely lack LOL!).

There are excellent tutorials all over youtube on how to do this. Basically, you just look at your reference image as a puzzle made out of layers from lighter to darker values. The result tends to have a posterized look to it especially if you do few layers. You can soften the edges between the layers somewhat if desired to soften the effect.

Several tools in Adobe Photoshop can help you visualize the value layers.  A black and white version of your reference picture is critical in visualizing the main values present in your painting, which will become your layers. Do not skip this step since sometimes the eye can trick us in seeing value relationships correctly. Another useful tool is in Filter>Filter Gallery. If you select "Cutout" under "Artistic" and play with the functions you can better visualize some of the layers. This might join shapes into one layer which might look odd so do not go entirely by this picture.

Now use your favorite techniques to transfer your reference image to your watercolor paper. Add as much detail as you want. Draw your shapes as precisely as possible since this will help give you cleaner look at the end. Make the lines very faint in light areas but very dark in areas that will be dark. I used half a sheet (15x22 inches) of Arches 140 lb (cold pressed).

For the pouring method, you generally choose a triad of primary colors: a red, a yellow and a blue. I chose: Alizarin Crimson Permanent as my red, Indian Yellow as my yellow and Ultramarine Blue Deep as my blue (all from Mission Gold watercolors). Towards the end of the process I also used a cooler blue (Sennelier's Cinerous Blue which is somewhat opaque) and also Indigo to get my darkest darks. To make the liquid watercolors for pouring I put a little bit of each color (about the size of a dime) in a yogurt cup and added about 3-4 Tbsp of water. You have to play with this on your own. You do not want your liquids to be too pale nor too concentrated. I suggest starting with a small amount of water first, testing the liquids on a scrap piece of paper and slowly adding more water to adjust. I had to repeat this process a few times for this painting.

If there are any extreme whites in your reference picture, start by masking those areas out with masking fluid. You may wish to instead pour a very pale wash unto the lighter areas first before masking. For applying the masking fluid you can use a ruling pen, a brush (dipped in soap first), a Masquepen type masking fluid, etc. For areas with texture you can use a dry brush technique to just mask out the hills of the paper. Once the masking fluid is completely dry, you are ready to pour. In my painting, after I masked a few small areas of whites, I started by pouring very diluted yellow all over the wet watercolor paper (my 2nd lightest values). Depending on your reference image, it may make sense to pour the yellows first since it is the lightest color in your chosen triad.

Some people pour on completely dry paper and just force the paint to move around. I preferred to pour unto wet paper since the pigment moves better that way so I thoroughly wet my paper first with clear water before any pouring (remember that this will dilute your colors, so take that into account). You can pour directly from your cups or use a dropper for more control. You can also use a large brush to encourage the paint to move to a certain area. Remember that the effect of your pour will only matter in the areas that are not masked so take into account the predominant local color in deciding whether to pour red, blue and/or yellow paint in a certain area. However, do not worry too much about mistakes. If you put red in an area that was supposed to be blue either tilt your board so that most of the red runs off, leave it red and correct with more blue in subsequent layers (careful making mud though) or live with the blue if it is appropriate for your subject. Let the paint do its thing and don't meddle with it too much. Let this pouring dry completely on the page. Once the paper has lost its shine but is still wet (feels cold to the touch), you can use a COLD blower to speed up the drying process (a WARM or HOT blower will make the masking fluid stick to the paper). Even so, proceed with caution.

Once your first pouring is dry, you are ready to mask the areas that you wish to protect. Mask the areas with the 2nd lightest values (which you just poured) with masking fluid and allow to dry completely. Note how you're basically pouring a layer and once you do that layer and let it dry, you mask a portion of it to protect it from the next pouring (so that area doesn't go any darker).  I then poured mostly yellow (and a tiny bit of my red) unto most of the paper for my 3rd lightest value. In some areas I started building up the yellow green values as well. Let this pouring dry and once completely dry, go ahead and mask your 3rd lightest values (that you just poured). In my case, the next area to be poured was some orange areas around the periphery of the trees and in the water as well as some yellow greens in areas. Use your knowledge of color mixing to adjust pours in subsequent layers and get the colors you need. For example, layer 2 primaries for secondary colors or let them mix on the paper in a single pour. Or layer 3 primaries for browns and grays or again let the 3 pigments mingle on the paper--which is risky and may result in mud, so I'd rather layer.

In general, in my painting the approach I followed in the masking/pouring process was:

  • Whites first
  • Followed by light yellows
  • Followed by warm yellows and yellow greens
  • Followed by oranges and greens
  • Followed by darker greens and blues
  • Followed by indigo and cinerous blue (also spattered in areas for additional texture)

Which is basically moving through both sides of the color wheel starting at yellow all the while working my neutrals (grays/browns) out and correcting them layer by layer. It took me about 6-7 layers to get something pleasing. I then removed all of the masking fluid and here is the result:

WIP - "Work in progress" of my poured painting after removing all the masking fluid

At this stage I can say I like what I have gotten but I can already tell that the left area needs to be darker so it doesn't compete with the center of interest (the sunlit area and boat near the middle of the painting). The trees on the left need better definition too. I also see way too many lights (I masked those areas too early) and will need to darken some. I also should have had at least 3 layers on those posts, not just one and I may need some more spatter in areas to give texture. I also want to soften some edges. Do not worry, it's all about corrections now. Stay tuned for the final.




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Day 30: 30 Paintings in 30 Days (Sept. 2015)

I'm dooooooooooone! Here it is number 30 of "30 Paintings in 30 Days" - "Tulip Magnolia II", acrylic on watercolor paper (15x22 inches). So exhausted! Now to take a few day break and get the house back in shape. YIKES! Messy, messy!

"Tulip Magnolia II" - acrylic on watercolor paper (15x22 inches)

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