‘Art gives me control’: Recovering alcoholic from Mission finds peace in painting

MISSION, Kan. -- Three months ago, Patrick Pribyl had never picked up a paint brush and was at rock bottom.

Now, the recovering alcoholic from Mission is preparing to have his art work showcased in New York City galleries.

Among a sea of colorful paintings, Pribyl's favorite is one that's dull in comparison. But to understand why, you need to know his story.

"The reason it is my favorite is I find it very beautiful. The colors, it looks worn, and it looks like it's been through something," he said.

At just 27 years old, Pribyl has been through a lot himself. In just one month, three of his biggest influences in life died, and he was hit by a car. When the prescription medication ran out, he started self-medicating with alcohol.

"It turned into drinking to fall asleep, drinking to wake up, drinking to get through the day, drinking to celebrate the end of the day," Pribyl said.

Then last year he got two DUIs in three days.

"I needed help," he said.

In December, he went to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Texas called The Treehouse. One of the classes the facility offers: painting.

"I thought, 'I'll just go and sit and paint,' and I didn't miss a paint class after that," Pribyl said.

Patrick Pribyl

The 27-year-old returned to his Mission home in time for New Year's Eve, but instead of pouring pints, he started pouring paint.

Three months later, it hasn't been easy. Pribyl is still going through withdrawals.

"With my tremors in my hands, I can't do straight lines," he said.

But he's 108 days sober and posts at least one painting online each day.

"Art gives me control in a world I don't get to control," Pribyl said.

He said he paints for himself but is hoping to have his artwork displayed at the KC Fringe Festival and a New York gallery he's been in contact with this year.

"For me painting has become this combination of getting all my worries out and all of this peace that comes over me," Pribyl said.

Not every piece is as perfect as he'd like, but then again, neither is he. But he said he's learned among life's stresses, that's OK.

"There's still beauty in it. It's not nice and smooth and perfect, but its mine," he said.

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