Dad gives up booze to become painter and sells pieces for up to £15K

Dad who started drinking at 14 and used to down a litre of vodka a night and not leave the house for weeks reveals how he finally quit boozing for painting – and now sells pieces for up to £15,000

  • Paul Lock, 45, had his first taste of alcohol aged 14 which lead to him suffering with drinking problems, as well as depression and anxiety, for most of his life
  • Salesman would binge a litre of vodka or gin a day unless he was out of money 
  • After his daughter was born, he decided to go cold turkey and quit booze
  • He now channels his energy into painting – and sells pieces for up to £15,000  

A dad who used to down a litre of vodka or gin per night has revealed how he gave up the booze to become an artist – and now sells his work for £15,000 a piece.  

Paul Lock, 45, from Surrey, had his first taste of alcohol aged 14 which lead to him suffering with drinking problems, as well as depression and anxiety, for years.

From the age of 18, Paul would binge-drink up to four times a week – only stopping if he ran out of money.

Paul Lock, 45, had his first taste of alcohol aged 14 which lead to him suffering with drinking problems, as well as depression and anxiety, for years. He is pictured in 2004


From the age of 18, Paul would binge-drink up to four times a week – only stopping if he ran out of money.  He is pictured left in 2006 and right now

At 28, the dad had his first mental breakdown and was signed off work, unable to leave the house for weeks on end or face life ‘outside the front door’ but now he is completely sober. He is pictured with his wife and daughter

Some days, Paul would hit the bottle from noon in the day until 6am the next morning.

‘If I wasn’t going out, I’d binge drink on my own at home,’ Paul said.

‘I didn’t suffer from hangovers so there was no off switch.

‘When I drank, I would typically only stop drinking when I ran out of money, the venue closed, I’d drunk all the alcohol I had or I was so drunk I could barely walk.’

The drinking started to take a toll on Paul in 2000.

At 28, the dad had his first mental breakdown and was signed off work, unable to leave the house for weeks on end or face life ‘outside the front door’.

At the age of 35, Paul went cold turkey and stopped drinking altogether. Giving up alcohol was a challenge, with the dad’s head constantly feeling like it would ‘explode’. He is pictured in 2006

Paul is pictured with wife Emma in 2004 a year before they married. He credits her with helping her through his darkest days

He tried therapy and medication but nothing worked – so he kept turning to the bottle in order to numb his feelings.

Unfortunately, having a job in sales also enabled the drinking habit as Paul would often take clients out for drinks to close deals.

Once he was so drunk that he locked himself out of his hotel room while stark naked and had to scurry to the stairwell to hide before security came and rescued him.

‘I sometimes wonder how an earth I escaped without some pretty bad things happening.

Paul is pictured with his best friend Richard, who stopped drinking with him. Some days, Paul would hit the bottle from noon in the day until 6am the next morning

Paul’s paintings depict many famous faces including Muhammad Ali (pictured) he uses painting as an outlet for his anxiety and depression

‘I remember one occasion in my late twenties after being out with some work friends, I was so drunk that I fell asleep in a doorway in Covent Garden and woke up at 6.30am, I was pretty shocked I’d done that.

‘On a business trip while staying in a hotel, it was 6am in the morning and I’d not long been in bed, I got up to use the bathroom but went through the wrong door, it closed behind me and I realised I wasn’t in the bathroom – but in the hotel corridor, and my room door had shut behind me.

‘I was locked out and completely naked.’ 

‘I had anxiety and depression. I couldn’t leave the house for six weeks. I completely lost it.

Paul Lock at the Noho Showrooms gallery in 2019. From the age of 18, Paul would binge-drink up to four times a week – only stopping if he ran out of money

At 28, the dad had his first mental breakdown and was signed off work, unable to leave the house for weeks on end or face life ‘outside the front door’ but now has a successful painting business. He is pictured with his wife Emma at his gallery 

‘I had a panic attack in the past but this was different, I completely lost the plot. I couldn’t face life outside the front door.

‘I was anxious all the time, didn’t know what to do with myself.

‘Deep down I knew it was a problem, I knew I was going to kill myself.’ 

Paul married his wife  Emma Lock, in 2005 and together they had a daughter, Jessica in 2008.

The dad praises his wife for being his rock and giving him unconditional love during his darkest days.

At the age of 35, Paul went cold turkey and stopped drinking altogether. Giving up alcohol was a challenge, with the dad’s head constantly feeling like it would ‘explode’. He is pictured with his wife and daughter

In 2011, the dad found a healthier outlet to process his mental health problems, painting. He is pictured in 2004

He said: ‘My wife is the most amazing person, she just gave me all of her unconditional love.

‘I guess, it wasn’t all bad though, I would also be the life and soul of a party, getting everyone else to drink excessively and have fun.

‘She was really the only one who saw my darker side and my personal pain.

‘I’ve never liked being told what to do, so I guess she knew she couldn’t change me, she knew I had to see it in my own time.’ In 2010, the dad had a moment of clarity while looking into his daughter’s eyes.

Paul said: ‘My daughter was two years old, I remember her walking in our bedroom in the morning as she did every morning with a huge smile on her face.


The dad who used to down a litre of vodka or gin per night has revealed how he gave up the booze to become an artist – and now sells his work for £15,000 a piece depicting people such as The Queen (left) and Jimi Hendrix (right(

‘It was about 7.30am. I looked at her and thought, where have I gone wrong?

‘That’s when it started to change.

‘That moment was when I knew for me, for her, that I’d rather end up needing mental health support in a mental hospital than continue what I was doing with drinking.’

At the age of 35, Paul went cold turkey and stopped drinking altogether. Giving up alcohol was a challenge, with the dad’s head constantly feeling like it would ‘explode’.

The father-of-one also had intense sugar cravings during the day.

He said: ‘I felt like my head was going to explode, my mind would race so fast.

‘I couldn’t sleep, it was a little like torture, it felt manic in my mind. Going to work was the only time when my mind would settle, it was like a distraction.

Paul Lock is pictured standing by his painting ‘Regina’ – of Queen Elizabeth I – one of many he has painted of famous faces

‘I was anxious, but then I’d always felt pretty anxious so I was used to it.

‘I can remember going into a rooftop London bar in the middle of Green Park shortly after I quit drinking. 

‘I must have walked past the bar 20 times before I plucked up the courage to go in because I knew I was going in to order water.’

In 2011, the dad found a healthier outlet to process his mental health problems, painting.

Paul ended up being so successful at his hobby that in 2014, he turned it into a full-time job – selling his art for up to £15,000 per piece.

He also set up a programme helping prisoners who struggle with addiction issues, called ‘Beyond Recovery’.

Now aged 45, Paul feels at peace and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, Jessica, who is 12 years old.

Paul said: ‘I feel at peace, I feel like I’ve found a home inside me.

Paul is pictured with daughter Jessica in 2008. He says he stopped drinking in order to be a good dad for her

‘I feel like everything is a bonus. I’ve lived a lifetime, I can’t believe I’m only 45. It was a really weird experience.

‘I have no idea what is going to happen next. I don’t have any grand plans for the future.

‘I just love seeing my daughter every day. I love my studio and I love my little life.

‘But it’s not all roses. Of course, I still go through ups and downs, I still fluctuate.

‘If I hadn’t gone through my journey and learnt about life, there was no way I would be able to paint.

‘I am not my experience. If I didn’t know that, I wouldn’t be able to paint.

‘For me, it can be an emotional journey. Painting is like a metaphor for life, as you start with a blank canvas.’

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