DOCUMENTARY

A Feature Length Documentary About Art, Grief, and the Brain

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"The Art of Grieving" – Coming 2021

We hear about death every day – in the news, through friends, and social media. The fallout from death seems a foreign concept to most people, that is, until one is forced to deal with the death of a close loved one. The task, then, becomes all too real, and that is when the journey begins.

“The Art of Grieving” will be a feature-length documentary exploring various angles of grief through the lens of society, technology, individual stories, and art therapy. Please continue reading more below for a specific overview of the film’s segments and how to get involved.

365

Paintings

4380

Minutes of Painting Filmed

200

Square Foot Mosaic

90

Minute Documentary

Weaved throughout the documentary will be stories by those who have lost loved ones, the aftermath, and their recovery from the loss. It will also feature specialists who deal with the subject on a regular basis, such as psychologists and counselors.

The latest in AI technology will be used to analyze the paintings from the course of Preston’s year of painting and correlate that back with what is going on in the brain. Machine learning will be able to detect things like change of color usage over time, image patterns, and then ultimately how this corresponds to changes in the brain.

A core value of this documentary will be to shine a light on the value of art therapy as a means of working through grief. Art therapy has been proven to aid in recovery of life traumas, so we want to expose that.

The 365 paintings completed over the course of the year will be used in a final 10ft x 20ft mosaic revealing a yet to-be-determined final image. The mosaic will be revealed at a show in Austin, TX. More details to come.

The documentary will wrap up the stories to reveal a way forward through grief and how each person has come out on the other side of grief stronger, wiser, and enabled to continue life in an abundant manner.

Get the latest news on the documentary

My Story of Grief

On the afternoon of Februrary 5th, 2019, I emerged from a meeting at work to check my phone for any messages and noticed several missed calls from my mom, a text, and a voicemail. This was the first time I had seen so much attempted communication from her beyond a simple text or phone call. I immediately listened to a somber voicemail from my mom relaying that there was “bad news” and I should call her back. Again, I had never quite heard that tone of voice from her. My immediate thought was my elderly grandma may have been hurt or worse, passed away. But I didn’t expect what came next.

“Your brother has died.”

It was hard to hear or comprehend the rest of what she said. My body went to an instant state of shock, somewhat literally as a negative buzz took over my body. I stoically went into a coworker’s office to request that my best friend drive home with me. 

The following days and weeks were surreal and still are. It’s as if time split into two realities – status quo and the one where my brother ceases to exist. 

In the time to follow, I – just like anyone experiencing grief – have had to find healthy ways through the emotions and inevitability that is grief. While I have done many things, there are two in particular which I found greatly therapeutic to the need:

  1. Painting intuitively
  2. Sharing my story with others

My brother and I at Frank Sinatra’s house in Palm Springs, 2018.

Sharing the loss of a loved one, especially when recent, with coworkers, friends, and even strangers, may seem like an odd thing to do. At first, I was worried about making others feel uncomfortable, but the reality is when people do a surface in “check-in” during normal small talk, most of us give a similar surface-level answer. Not me – I couldn’t afford not to share how my life had just been radically changed. 

In the process, I discovered how helpful it was to others to share my story of grief, how so many people I came across shared similar experiences and how it affected them in a similar way. Similar to how parents understand the journey that is parenting, so do those who have had to work through grief. It’s an instant connection I didn’t expect. 

That fall at an art show, I displayed prominently a series of paintings telling the story of my brother’s death and the aftermath. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. The series was my first set in a distinct style, so that’s what I chose to display the most. What I didn’t anticipate is how much I would have to delve into my story and the loss of my brother. That is when it really hit me: how much art and grief can come together to do something greater than merely talking about it.

Art has become the connection piece between a tragic loss, the grieving process, and having an open dialogue about what it means to work through grief. 

People find many different ways to cope with loss of a loved one, and as long as they’re healthy, then it’s a good thing. For me, I discovered a specific path that I want to share with the world: the art of grieving.

Get Involved

Below are some of the roles needed to make the shoot happen. If you have these skills and connect to the mission, please fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

You know how to tell a story through angles, distance, lighting, and composition. Whether it’s an interview or b-roll, you connect your audience to the shot and have great technical expertise doing it.

The Producer’s role here will be to help secure locations, interviews, conduct research, and coordinate for strategic release dates. You’ll also assist in the development of the story.

You have a good feel for documentary-style editing and can really bring the story together in the editing room. This also means a good understanding of how music plays a part.

You’ll be available to record audio on interview days and other key scenes of the documentary. Also have your own equipment.

Join the Project

Want to get involved?
Submit the form below and we'll be in touch.