AUSTIN (KXAN) — Painting through pain and grief. That’s what Preston Zeller said he did every day for a year after losing his brother to a fentanyl-related overdose in 2019.

“He was a combat veteran in the military, in the army,” Zeller said. “We really were pieces of each other, especially growing up.”

Zeller said for 365 days he created a new piece of abstract art while processing his brother’s death.

“All the grief and the anger and the sadness and the, you know, joy at times, I could see that for myself in the paintings, and in the colors and in the vibe of the painting,” Zeller said.

He said it gave him greater clarity about how he was feeling between different days. He even made his brother a part of the final painting.

“I knew in the very last painting I wanted to use his ashes,” Zeller said.

He recorded his journey and created a documentary called The Art of Grieving.

It shows the moment Zeller put all his paintings together in a 10 foot by 20 foot mosaic in his home.

the mosaic of Preston Zeller's 365 paintings
Zeller said he encourages others experiencing grief to find an outlet for their emotions like he did. (Photo: Preston Zeller)

In the end, Zeller said he found that his grief didn’t get smaller but he grew through the process.

“If you are intentional about working through those intense emotions and grief, you can find some fantastic pieces of yourself that you didn’t know it ever existed,” Zeller said.

The documentary can be streamed on the following sites:

  • Tubi
  • Prime Video
  • Apple TV
  • Plex

Zeller said it was named best documentary at three film festivals and has been seen in 25 countries.