David “Cal” Lawrence and the Art of Cannabis

by Brittney Graham

David “Cal” Lawrence is an award-winning registered Choctaw Artist, but remains humble and delivers the majesty and passion of art around the world. Needless to say, I was extremely inspired after sitting down with him and getting to chat about his artwork. Bleach, coffee, and cannabis are just the tip of the vast pool of mediums in which creativity flows from Lawrence’s views of the world around him into his art.

As I sat with Lawrence, I could not help but notice how personable he was and how he seemed to be able to paint creations with not only his hands but with his words as well. It was easy to see that the man in front of me was the same man that is known for his humanitarian efforts, donating paintings and funds to support a number of charities such as; Breast Cancer Awareness, AIDS Awareness, and to the Goodland Academy in Goodland, OK. His roots run deep with the Academy as this is where his Father began his early education and with the understanding that art speaks to adolescents instilled by his mother.

Speaking of his parents, Lawrence grew up in a home that was very open to his artistic nature as often pottery and textiles were made around him. Both his mother and father were always supportive of whatever path he chose to take with his talents in life. They may not have always understood, but they were always behind him, which he could not help but say with a smile on his face. This openness really helped him accept a different way of looking at the world around him and paved the path for his open creativeness.

Lawrence shared that sometimes ideas on mediums to use comes from happy accidents. Such as the time he was cleaning his house in a pair of black sweatpants he had cut into shorts. When he reached down under the sink to grab the bleach, he accidently knocked the top off and it splattered on his shorts. “Oh My Gosh that looks like a feather!”, he said to himself and the following thought was, “I can paint with bleach!”.  The bleach cleaner was a little watery and made it hard to see the outlines and that is how he started using toilet boil cleaner as a medium for his creative portraits.

Another happy accident was the creation of his paint made from the cannabis plant itself. As we have learned from the story above, Lawrence loves to experiment with different mediums and has made jaw dropping art with the likes of bleach and coffee grounds respectively. Thus, his interest in making paint out of some form of marijuana was formed and Lawrence started to experiment with ways to make the substance thick enough to create a sustainable art piece.

Using the entire cannabis plant is key! Which makes sense if we stop to think about it. Some of the best forms of medicine involve the entire cannabis plant and how its handled during the harvest and processing portion of its journey to each patient. Using the whole plant for a sustainable art piece naturally flows with that line of reasoning.

Although, using cannabis in paint form does not take away from its THC potency as Lawrence learned one afternoon when answering a phone call from his business manager Damon. He had been painting with three or four paintbrushes at a time as he often finds himself doing and ended up with one in his mouth during a meticulous portion of his work. He had sounded a little off to his manager so when asked what was going on with him, it hit him that he had the serious case of the munchies and that his organic paint and taken on an edible like form. 

Obviously, using cannabis paint is very new in the community and Lawrence has had those who do not quite understand his approach.

He told me that he once went into a dispensary with his art and a lady behind the counter was, so awe struck by his portrait of Bob Dylan that she started showing everyone in the shop. One of the patrons made a comment to the effect, “Why waste all that weed, man?” and honestly, we both couldn’t help but laugh at this portion of the story.

As with everything in this budding industry, some will admire and some will not understand at first, however, I firmly believe that this form of art is here to stay and evolve.

The cannabis-based paint has been used on shoes, clothing, and paper by Lawrence and the amount of detail that can be seen in the piece is outstanding. One would not believe that the art was made from pain using Marijuana until being told that is indeed what is being used. This is a skill that is mastered over a long period of time of honing one’s skill, which Lawrence seems to have down to well, an artwork!

As a big advocate for medical marijuana, Lawrence tells many of his friends, acquaintances, and family to try cannabis out for themselves to form their own opinions. Especially those suffering from opioid use or are in a state constant pain. When he gets scoffed at, he associates it to the first time he went to the chiropractor, the doctor told him you do not know how bad you feel until you get an adjustment and feel better. Those who have not tried medical marijuana are not aware of what it can do for their bodies or how much better it may make them feel.

When I asked his advice to other aspiring artists or those just dipping their toes into the creative space, he made a wonderful point. Lawrence’s advice is that one should hang out with creative people, such as artists, writers, and musicians. Be open to all types of creative expression however so you do not miss out on an opportunity for inspiration. Also, opening one’s eyes and trying to look at things in an out of the box way is another great piece of advice. Looking at Lawrence’s creations, I can easily see why following this advice would  not be a bad idea at all cannabis family!

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