Recovering Artist: Hank Edwards

God gave me this gift from birth. It was just not time for me to experience and share it until now. – Hank Edwards

Hank Edwards is a self-taught artist from Austin, Texas. Although well-versed in all paint media, his primary focus is acrylic on canvas. Hank has developed a unique style by mixing acrylic pouring techniques with realism and portrait work, concentrating on vibrant, contrasting colors.

Edwards’ creative side exhibited itself in early childhood as he realized he could escape while drawing and painting – even during church services. Throughout his high school years, Edwards felt art would have a prominent place in his adult life. However, within a short period of time after graduating, he found himself caught up in the rat race of life. With the exception of a few doodles here and there and the occasional tattoo flash design for a friend, his artistic endeavors all but ceased.

For nearly two decades, the drive for success had Edwards firmly in its grip, smothering his flame of creativity to a flicker. But, as Edwards often says, “God had different ideas for me.”

In June of 2012, I arrived in Austin, Texas, with a duffel bag, having left a recovery center in Dickinson, Texas. It was all I had left after losing a successful 13-year career as the sole successor to a freight brokerage company in Temple, Texas. I had no idea what my life would look like from this point forward. The only option I had was to follow direction.

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It was suggested that I begin to utilize morning prayer and meditation. Shortly after my arrival in Austin, I simply asked one morning, “What do you want me to do?” The answer was direct and very simple, “Buy some paint.” With the $40 I had left to my name, I did just that.

Something shifted after that moment. For once in my life, willingness was much stronger than fear. While a resident at Any Length Sober Living in Austin, I began to paint small pieces at the kitchen table. During that time, I visited an alumni function at a treatment center in the Texas Hill Country. While chatting with a friend with close to two decades of sobriety, I mentioned that I wished I could sell my art and be successful enough to make living; but I really didn’t see it as a possibility. He then said to me something that forever changed the course of my life, “How big is your God?”

Within a month, I had sold my first piece of art. Soon after, I received a request to craft a piece of art in trade for designing a website for me. As I developed my signature style, I created new pieces. I also began donating my artwork to various charity events here in the Austin area, which I do to this day.

As I continued to show up every day, my commissions increased. People actually liked my style of creative work. The recovery community was a considerable portion of my client base, and they certainly were the launching pad for living my childhood dream. I have clients throughout the US, and last year one of my original pieces even made it to China. In October 2014, I had a very successful solo opening here in Austin and have another opening scheduled for March 2015.

I want to make clear that all of the success I have had to date has come directly to me in one form or another. I have not had to chase my dream. I just show up every day, do what I do and leave the results up to something much greater than myself.

Today Edwards spends the majority of his time painting commissioned pieces in the Austin area. He donates his art to charitable auctions and shares his gifts with people in the greater Austin area recovery community.

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