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Kelowna man paints picture of his time on the streets

Kelowna man strives to break stigma through art
Over the last eight months, Lucas Macauley has changed his life.  His life on the street began when he was prescribed morphine after a motorcycle accident in 2011.

Over the last eight months, Lucas Macauley has changed his life.

“You can’t sleep on the streets and be sober,” Macauley said.

“You live in that state of being inebriated because you don’t want to see the world that you’ve created. It’s a vicious cycle because if you get sober you start to see how bad things are.”

His life on the street began when he was prescribed morphine after a motorcycle accident in 2011. He was cut off after coming in to refill his prescription a day early.

That’s when he went into withdrawal.

“I was sicker than anything, I couldn’t believe it,” said Macauley.

He then turned to whatever drugs he could get his hands on, leaving his tattoo shop in Saskatchewan behind after not being able to balance work and his addiction.

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WATCH: Extended interview with artist, Lucas Macauley
WATCH: Extended interview with artist, Lucas Macauley

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“Your addiction kind of takes the driver’s seat and I hated that I never wanted to be in that situation,” said Macauley.

“It slowly just took things away from you. I would lose a car or a nice place I had or a boat or whatever. It was the things I had built up with my success everything got taken away. [Losing] relationships were the hardest.
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“Eventually you don’t have a place to live, you don’t have a car to sleep in. I remember selling a car for drugs one night and realizing I don’t have a place to sleep.

“You get to that place where you don’t have control anymore.”

His mom, LaDonna Macauley, did everything to help her son. She lived in her car after losing two places because she says her neighbours and landlord didn’t want her there because she would let Lucas come and shower or spend the night if he couldn’t get a bed at a shelter.

A piece he has painted since his recovery is of her on the couch worrying with a crown floating over her head.

“He saw me become this person that he had never seen before or worry the way that I was because the state that you get into as a mom,” said LaDonna Macauley.

“That couch person [in the painting] is this one that was in a state of ‘where’s my son?’ and not only just him but every one that is related to this situation which means all my sons and grandchildren… you are balancing and trying to balance everything.
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“[I was thinking] if we can just get him to point A to point B then we are all going to be okay. I know he saw it I know every time he would come home that he would see even if he was in no condition to understand I know that it tore him apart and to see me not be me.

“But there was a lot of hope in that situation. I couldn’t leave him behind.”

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To get by, Lucas Macauley sold art on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. It was art that helped him get through his recovery.

“When I was in rehab actually I painted 100 pieces while I was in there for 76 days. I gave most of them away… I was just painting again because I was myself and you start to remember things and now my memory is able to thrive,” said Macauley.

Those memories now channelled into his artwork. He’s still selling his work and these days it’s selling faster than he can paint. his days often spent painting with his brother.

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“When we collaborate sometimes we will just put on music and I will paint a piece and he will be painting and then we will just switch,” said Steve Macauley.

“We are getting a chance to create together again. To have him be on a normal track that fear washes away and that anxiety of what’s going to happen tonight and you still feel pangs of that but I’ve noticed it has definitely left for the most part. It helps with creativity to express freely.”

Each painting that Macauley and his brother create either separately or apart help tell a little more of the story.

“It’s about his expression and who he is as a person and he hasn’t changed and even after being out there [on the streets],” said LaDonna Macauley.

You can view more of Macauley’s work visit his website www.lucasjoelart.com