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Painted Brain | Well I Can
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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  • November 2, 2015

Well I Can

“Well I can’t forget the sound, because it’s here to stay

The sound of people chasin’ money, and money gettin’ away.”

– Uncle Tupelo, Whiskey Bottle

When you do not let money define your work, you are free to do anything. For ten years I have worked on a project called the Painted Brain and moved forward, often with nothing but conviction. It’s like an art project and the plight of the artist. Artists have worked with what they have for all of human history, working within the limits of the possible, or the attainable. I know and love a lot of artists and the only ones I ever have a beef with are those that feel they can’t be the artist they were meant to be because they don’t have x, y, and z. There’s one exception to this though, the thing that we all have so little to spare: time.

That’s what held me back for the first eight years of this project, I had no time for it. I was working a full time job. In order to really work on the Painted Brain, I needed time, and therefore I needed a way to make a lot of money in fewer hours. I can’t say I planned this out very intentionally from the beginning, but by the time I was ready to leave my last full time job in 2012, I had built up the skills and professional network to run a successful private therapy practice. This freed up time to build Painted Brain into a working company. We provide a high quality product that we believe in whole heartedly – art groups. We run so many of them that we can pay for our rent and our skeleton crew of a staff. This summer we moved into our own office, the first time we have had space purely our own since 2010.

Billy Bang Douglas, helming the wildest, wiliest ship on the online news media seas, asked me to reflect on where we are, so here goes. Painted Brain is working on its core strength: the home team and our media projects. James and Jesus, our daytime Member Services Coordinators, have been tirelessly building out our new office to be welcoming and comfortable. This dynamic duo is committed to crafting a space and a feel where one can’t help but feel creative. We’re allied with some of the most talented artists in LA and our social media team works diligently to build the arts pipeline so that the work of the artists gets into the hands of viewers through multiple online channels. Our video team is working on a short documentary that focuses on our move into the new office and building the video features of the future. We have an amazing team of group leaders, social workers, interns, and volunteers running activities at our office and all over the map of LA’s mental health system. We’re building on the foundation of media training excellence we developed last year in coordination with the media giant,Corbis and members of the USC School of Journalism to bring Painted Brain Media Academy to fruition starting early next year. Though it’s only an idea so far, Painted Brain aims to crack the wall between the mental health arts world we’ve built and the art world that lives and breathes around us. Best of all, the band is getting back together! How are we doing? Freakin’ awesome.

So, money. Money should never be an aspiration in itself, it is a tool that allows us to commit to other aspirations. As director of the Painted Brain, I am dedicated to building a working company that earns its keep. By this, I do not mean monetizing the value of the thousands of hours and hundreds of group activities that we’ve provided, free-of-charge, to the local mental health community for many years. What I mean is this: earning our income by selling legitimate services including our art groups, our speakers bureau, and our vast and comprehensive knowledge on using the arts to promote growth and health. We’re doing it. We’ve grown more in the past year than we have in the first nine years put together.

I am a firm believer in the rule of ten thousand. Ten thousand hours of practice at anything, and you achieve mastery. Year Number Ten of the Painted Brain is next year. We have only begun to achieve our potential. Peace be upon us all.

Dave Leon LCSW is the founder/director of Painted Brain and a frequent contributor to Painted Brain News

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