How does it feel to come back from the brink of death and be given a second chance? Scott Sorensen knows. From his front right window table at Sneaky Beans coffee shop, the artist paints, mostly on commission, and rebuilds his life – one stroke at a time. A suicide attempt made him say “enough is enough” and helped him to give up the bottle. But not without some push back. He had lost everything in a divorce and felt his letting go of alcohol was losing the only thing he still had. “I was angry, so angry,” Sorensen says. “I was mad at the world.” He thought maybe his life could be better. “So I took a leap.”
A ‘doodler’ since kindergarten, Sorensen didn’t pick up a paint brush until nearly five years ago while still under the influence. He used graphite but thought color would sell better and began using colored pencils. He soon turned to painting on wood, a more durable surface, with acrylic paints. Being intoxicated, he says, didn’t affect quality – or quantity. Being sick from drinking did. “I came up with a strategy to move as much art as I could as quick as I could. I didn’t have time to wait.” And with that, his road to recovery began. Sorensen says he is two years sober and involved in a 12 step program. And he says he doesn’t have the urge to drink.
Fast forward a bit and you’ll find Sorensen’s work hanging at the Arts Center of Mississippi in downtown Jackson through May 31. Every piece on display – 32 of them – has been borrowed from the people who have purchased them over the years. “I could have had thousands,” he says, “had I had more time.” Is that surreal for the artist after his journey from then to now? “On the one hand I look and see, yes, it’s progress,” he says. “On the other hand, it’s that little voice that just says ‘it’s dumb luck.’ You never feel good enough.” The artist, like many creatives, deals with his fair share of doubt. “Everyday,” he claims “is self doubt.” But his friends offer him a way to look at things. “We have to stay with ourselves, even through the doubt and bad days; that is the magic of it.” Sorensen says every painting he completes is a learning tool to get better. “I think I’m better than average, but I’m not great. I just keep painting.” Whether from his table at the Bean or his campsite (Sorensen lives “home free” in a tent and has for five years), he keeps producing as many pieces as he can. “My goal is to move so much art, they’ve got to notice – whoever they are.”