Ideas battle for attention in Liz Parsons' brain as a swirl of thoughts and images consumes her consciousness.
Rather than fight the hallmarks of her Attention Deficit Disorder, Parsons transcribes the scattered mental fragments into art.
"It's like a journal on canvas," Parsons said of her last work, a multimedia collage of words and drawings.
The canvas, titled "Record It All," documents her experiences at the recent opening of the exhibit "Esoterica" at the Buttondown Gallery in the Shirt Factory in Glens Falls. Parsons, who is one of the artists featured in the show, was so enthralled by the event that she felt the need to chronicle the moment - from the Oreos and Yoo-hoo served at the party to quotations from "Art and Fear," a book that has served as recent inspiration - with a paintbrush.
"It's about the whole weekend," Parsons said, pointing out individual components of the piece, including a painted spine that frames the left side of the canvas. "I have an old neck injury, and I recently had shingles. I was in a lot of pain at the show. That pain plays a big part in your life."
The image of a vintage typewriter sits in one corner. Pasted scraps of passages Parsons pecked out on the keyboard float across the composition.
"These are things I've written - free-thought stuff," she said.
A cumulus blob hovers in the painting's top corner.
"My head is always in the clouds," Parsons said with a smile.
The Glens Falls apartment Parsons shares with her wife, Alesa DelSignore, is as much a studio as a residence.
Finished canvases and artwork - some created out of old doors and windows - line the hallway. Stray squiggles of paint add colorful scars to the walls. A bed sits in the living room, a sacrifice that was made to give Parsons her own haven for creativity.
She credits her grandmother, Shirley Patton, with being a driving force in her life. Patton, who lived in Queensbury until her death in 1998, was a noted painter who sold work at galleries in Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
"That's the first painting I ever did," Parsons said, gesturing to a framed child's rendering of a bird. "I sat on my grandmother's lap at her easel and thought it was the best thing in the world. I wanted to be like her, and I still do."
The childhood painting hangs near a couple of Patton's works, which fill a corner of the studio next to a recent watercolor by Parsons' mother, Barbara Monroe.
Art is a family legacy, but Parsons rarely feels a sense of completion with her drawings and paintings.
"I destroyed a lot of my paintings in my moves," she said. "I have nothing but a couple of artist's books I did in college."
Creation is more about the journey than a final destination.
"Making bad art is important. You learn more from it than you do from making good art. It's essential to the process for what comes next," she said.
She works sporadically, and she feels most energized late at night.
That's when the ideas come together. Sometimes I'm working at 4 or 5 in the morning," she said.
She's been known to get up in the middle of watching a TV show and head to her studio to work through the thoughts that rush through her mind.
"I've got so many ideas in my head, it's not possible to do them all," she said.
A recent series, which is featured in the "Esoterica" show, focuses on survival.
"I think about things like what would happen if I were thrown out in the woods and had to survive - or a nuclear blast," she said.
One painting diagrams the anatomy of a postal bomb. Another is a guide to edible fungi painted on an old window.
"Do not eat unless 100 percent identifiable," Parson's hand-scrawled words warn. "Left outside to survive, it would be my advice to not eat mushrooms at all!"
Survival is something Parsons understands.
Although an introvert by nature, she comfortably talks about the problems she has had throughout her life and the rough road that has gotten her to where she is now.
A native of Glens Falls, Parsons returned to the area after spending time studying at the Maine College of Art.
Home seemed like a safe place to be, but she didn't intend to stay. The burgeoning local art scene, however, has changed her perspective.
"I've decided to stick around. Something is happening that I can't describe," she said. "I love it. I love being a part of it."
Through her work, Parsons is finding the courage to speak up and get noticed.
"It's a way for me to say, ‘Hello world, I am here,' " she said.