When Adversity Sparks A Creative Odyssey – Day 219

How do I Speak of This by Brian Glenn Truex. Copyright © Brian Glenn Truex
“How do I Speak of This?” by Brian Glenn Truex. Copyright © Brian Glenn Truex

Art can serve as a means of expression when adversity strikes. It can provide an escape, it can offer solace or it can be a way to express and sort through the emotions that surround the event.

But for painter Brian Glenn Truex, art also became a tool to explore the development of his inner life and spirituality that was prompted by a series of crises that changed his life forever.

The first major crisis occured when Truex’s mother passed away from cancer. “Adversity has a way of transforming your consciousness, which we might normally consider an experience that weakens us…..and it may at first in an emotional or physical manner,” says Truex. “But then the moment calls for a response… and it will either be an expansion or a contraction – moving outward or creating a hard shell. My moment initially came when my mother passed away… quite literally in my arms. But when I reached into my spiritual toolbox for strength, support, or whatever I was hoping for….it was empty. That was the birth of my creative odyssey… and the moment when the development of my inner life and spirituality became my ultimate concern!”

Truex decided to fully commit to painting and drawing, studying with Master Painter Patrick Betaudier, who had perfected the Technique Mixte, an oil and tempera technique first used by Flemish Master Jan van Eyck. As Truex refined his talent, his creative work helped deepen his inner quest. “The experience of my mother’s death symbolized an awakening for me and a reconnection to the unseen world and the mystery of life,” says Truex. “Once that happens… you don’t want to give it up and hopefully you realize that it’s something you can consciously choose to direct your life towards… and work at it.”

“Learning to Fly”, “Beyond Reality”, “With These Wings” by Brian Glenn Truex. Copyright © Brian Glenn Truex

But then tragedy struck again. Truex had traveled to Japan to teach English following his graduate studies, and broke his leg in a bicycle accident. The injury was misdiagnosed, resulting in emergency surgery and Truex was thrown even deeper into his spiritual odyssey. Turning once again to his art, a new body of work emerged from the folds of the sheets from his hospital bed.

“Finding Your Center” by Brian Glenn Truex. Copyright © Brian Glenn Truex

Finding his center and back on his feet again, Truex launched a successful exhibition tour in Japan, Cuba and France and had returned to the U.S. to build on his international reputation when health issues emerged, dramatically reducing his physical abilities. “I can’t say exactly when I first began recognizing this pattern of crisis, struggle, experimentation, breakthrough and revelations,” says the artist. “I never would have guessed that there was more in store after all I had already experienced.”

As Truex’s health kept deteriorating, he made the decision to give up oil painting out of concern that it might be affecting his health. “I sold all my paints and brushes to my old university professor,” he admits. “That was one of my most painful experiences.”

“Hope” by Brian Glenn Truex. Copyright © Brian Glenn Truex

During a low point, Truex was sharing some of his creative work to a visiting friend and said, “After this, I need to work on getting my shit together” – referring to his health situation. His friend responded, “It’s strange how you separate your art from your life! Working on your artwork IS getting your shit together!” So Brian Truex continued painting by diving headfirst into watercolors. “I never had much luck with the medium in the past and I did not have a lot of confidence going into it,” he says, “but I just knew I had to try something so at least I could say I was still painting.”

The Healing Series was the result. “It seems the Universe was conspiring for me to do that work because it wasn’t until I finished the series that I met my current doctor,” says Truex. “It was her idea to do home visits with me (who does that anymore?) and trade her services for my watercolors! After six years of seeing every doctor in every field and being told I ‘just need to be medicated,’ this doctor slowly began revealing the source of all my health issues!”

After Truex found success with the Healing Watercolors Series as well as the right doctor for his health concerns – the desire to return to oils became very strong. “But did I really want to expose myself to all those toxins even if they weren’t responsible for my condition?” he wondered.

The wheel turned again and the creative odyssey continued. He noticed that his watercolors supplier also carried a line of oil paints that utilized walnut oil as the binder and he soon discovered the non-toxic properties of walnut oil paint. A big question still remained, however – was Truex going to be able to utilize walnut oil paints in the same manner, using the Technique Mixte he had learned with Patrick Betaudier – a very complicated and precise technique he had dedicated over a decade of his life to perfecting?”

Through the encouragement of his supplier, Arthur Graham, Truex was able to successfully accomplish every step of the Technique Mixte process…solvent free!…and still maintain the original integrity and quality of the process. “I’ve made some of the best paintings of my life over the past six months,” says the artist, “and the quality and integrity of the walnut oil paints is outstanding! Patrick Betaudier would be very happy!”

“Humanité” by Brian Glenn Truex. Copyright © Brian Glenn Truex

Brian Truex sums up his odyssey so far in this way: “Just because you’ve had a significant experience and a transformation of your life and consciousness doesn’t mean you’re still not going to have to work at it! Again and again and again… that’s what rituals are for! Overcoming adversity and exploring the mysteries of the universe are a never-ending dance. And just when you think you’ve got it… the whole thing shifts beneath your feet.”

Truex shares his story often as he believes in paying it forward. “Regardless of the profound nature of our revelations, unless we can communicate that knowledge and help transform the life of another in some positive way can we never truly consider our revelation to be wisdom.”

This story, like so many others in this year-long series, needs to be shared. It is an honor to include it here so that it may provide inspiration for others on their own creative odyssey.

– SerenaK

This post is part of  the 365 Days Project – a year-long series of daily posts that began as a tribute to artists and the creative mind and ended up as a collection of interviews with artists around the world.

Artist Credits for the images included in this post:

Images featured:
How Do I Speak of This?
Brian Glenn Truex,
Mixed media

Learning to Fly
Brian Glenn Truex,
Oil on linen

Beyond Reality
Brian Glenn Truex,
Graphite and charcoal on linen

With These Wings
Brian Glenn Truex,
Oil on linen

Finding Your Center
Brian Glenn Truex,
Charcoal, Graphite, Tones Paper

Brian Glenn Truex,

Brian Glenn Truex, Illinois
Oil on panel

Brian Glenn Truex’s artwork can be viewed at: Brian Glenn Truex

The 365 Days Project

In 2012, Serena Kovalosky committed to writing an article a day for 365 days as an exploration into the lives of artists and the value of creative thinking in our society.

Experience the full evolution of the project! Click below to read the entire collection of articles.
Click to view The 365 Days Project

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