PRESSURE RELEASE VALVE Sam White Uses His Art to Release His Inner Thoughts

By LaRue, Jennifer | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), January 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

PRESSURE RELEASE VALVE Sam White Uses His Art to Release His Inner Thoughts


LaRue, Jennifer, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


The first 21 years of artist Sam White's life were filled with trials and tribulations.

Born in Seattle, White said he grew up in an abusive household; a scar on his hand reminds him every day.

"This was burned into my hand so I would stop sucking my thumb," he said.

Art became his solace. He would copy characters from the newspaper including Mighty Mouse, Popeye and Superman. At 11, he was introduced to alcohol and marijuana and was an addict in no time.

In high school, his high grades in art made it possible for him to graduate and he became a groundskeeper. Still, he partied on. At the age of 21, when many of his peers were tasting alcohol for the first time, White, now 54, became clean and sober.

"I made the decision because I was on a road to prison and three hours in a drunk tank was enough for me," he said.

When White joined the Air Force, he was 2 years, 1 month, and 4 days sober. Ironically, his job was military narcotics dog handler.

In 1982, he was stationed at Fairchild. He then went to the Philippines for six years, back to Fairchild, and then off to Desert Storm. In 1991, he was honorably discharged with "character and behavior disorders."

"To this day I can't stand the feel of sand on my feet," he said, "I love the ocean but I keep my boots on."

After White's discharge, he apprenticed as a plumber. He started his own company, Sam the Plumber, in 1999. That same year, he stopped at a garage sale, purchased a case of oil pastels, and went to town.

He has since painted thousands of fractured and stylized portraits. Once, he passed out 100 of his paintings to visitors at the Santa Monica Pier. …

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