Art helps Springfield woman escape addiction

But it’s become much more than therapy; ‘this gives me hope,’ she says.

Seven months ago, Tory Campbell’s life was basically colorless. Forward to September and she could be found doing live paintings at the recent “A Night of Hope” event, emboldened by the colors on her pallet, which can double as a metaphor for the brightness of her future.

Art is part of Campbell’s rehab program in overcoming substance addiction and has become much more than a therapy.

“It has given me motivation to finish something for once in my life,” she said. “Addiction brought me down, had me powerless. This gives me hope.”

Campbell had always liked art, but never explored it. Substance abuse dominated her life, losing contact with her family along the way and limiting her options.

It took a legal incident in Champaign County to lead Campbell to turn her life around through recovery at Springfield’s McKinley Hall. She started with dot drawings and that simple start led to wanting to learn more.

Now she’ll paint, draws with pencils or pen, whatever she feels on a certain day. Being able to take a blank slate or canvas and create something beautiful out of nothing amazes her.

“If I was high, I couldn’t do something, I had a lack of confidence and I just wanted to stay high,” said Campbell. “(Painting) is a different form of high when I can’t wait to show my work to somebody. What I’ve really come to love about art was when I show it how much joy it brings others.”

Don McKanna knows about art that looks good in a frame as an owner of Frame Haven in Springfield. He stopped by to observe and admire Campbell’s work in progress at “A Night of Hope.”

“It looks nice. It’s fun seeing a painting evolve,” he said.

Campbell’s chosen subject is flowers or floral themes. She was inspired by her mom telling her she’s blooming. Being clean has also allowed her to renew ties with her family including meeting a little sister for the first time.

The piece she completed during “A Night of Hope” had black at the sides and light in the middle, which could represent her journey with the darkness moving to the side. It will be donated to McKinley Hall

Wendy Doolittle, CEO of McKinley Hall, said Campbell is off to a good start. The mindfulness program Campbell is in helps those overcoming substance abuse to stay in the moment to help them relax.

It takes a minimum of a year in the program to heal, she said.

“Tory is an amazing young lady motivated by her natural talent and needs to keep doing what she’s doing,” Doolittle said.

Once her program is done, the only addiction Campbell will have is the one she wants to continue — art. She also hopes others may follow her example.

“It’s like a whole new world. No matter what I want to do, I can do it and if I can do it, you guys can too,” she said.