Saturday, May 31, 2008

Le Cadeau Du Cheval-The Gift of the Horse

Several weeks ago I received my panel for a mural that I am working on with an impressive bunch of artists from around the world. The project is directed by The Mural Mosaic team and the mural we are now working on is called "Le Cadeau Du Cheval" or "The Gift Of The Horse". All artists receive a panel already toned with color and we have to create our own painting staying within the realm of the tones and values in the panel. I received #174 [see above ] and have started my panel with a sketch of the subject matter which I chose.
I elected to do a painting of Beautiful Jim Key [the smartest horse in the world] and his owner Bill Key. I am reading the book about Jim and his life right now! So far so good!


So I have sketched Jim and the Dr. in charcoal and have already started painting in casein. Below is the sketch after in the first day of work.........figuring out the composition and what information I want to portray in the work. I also will be adding a building into the background.



Since then I have added some casein and added a background of the pavilion where Jim was introduced to the world at the 1904 World Fair...........It is a fascinating story about Jim...his owner and trainer and the start of the American Humane Education Society. William Key, an ex-slave from Shelbyville, Tenn. , a Civil War veteran and an acclaimed horse-whisperer, is recognized for helping to start a worldwide animal rights movement. And Beautiful Jim Key was the star who helped with that humane movement.
As the panel progresses I will keep you posted............ this is fun!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Harness Racing and Papercuts




My papercut drawing titled "Five by Three" was chosen to be highlighted in an ad for a fundraiser for The Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York and the ad will appear in the 'The 2008 Hall of Fame Souvenir Journal' . This event has the annual induction ceremonies for the 2008 Hall of Fame members on July 6t, 2008. The banquet and ceremony held at the museum.


The image being used in this full page ad was placed by the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey , which represents the owners, breeders, drivers, trainers and caretakers in that state. Neat!


The image and the ad can be seen above.....but in the ad, the image was flipped for this format...as the original is shot from the other side of a race.........but I learned something new....harness racing in this country is done counter clockwise. Live and learn!!!




Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stuart-Thinking


This hairy 'beast' is a furkid belonging to a couple from Cumberland, Maine. A part Standard Poodle and something else, pooch's name is Stuart [after Ron Stuart- the rock star]. This Stuart is a star in his own right. But his hairdo really does bring to mind Ron Stuart's hair!!! In this 'pose' he is stretched out and I am sure he is contemplating life and its meaning.
When his owner saw the painting his reaction was" He looks great! You caught his true emotions. He usually lets out a long sigh before he gets that "thinking" look."
That is what I want to hear!!!
There will be more works of Stuart.....he is so paint-able.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day


Today is a day of remembering and honouring.
My family on my mother's side come from Germany originally and settled in Pennsylvania. They were farmers, painters, entrepreneurs and proud to be Americans by choice.
My father's parents came from Poland ...settled in the Boston, Mass. area and were hard working folks...........my paternal grandmother never learned English well. But she didn't need to as she did not venture out of her Polish neighborhood much throughout her life.
My husband, Les , was born in Kenya, East Africa. We met in Rome, Italy, were married in Italy and our first son was born in Italy. When we came to America...back to my home country....Les became an American citizen and he is VERY proud of his adopted country..the US of A. Our second son was born in America after we had settled here and decided to stay here.
We all are indebted to the veterans who have fought for our freedom in America and abroad, in the past and even today. Some of them were from my family.....and today is a day to take time to remember them and what they have given for us and future generations.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Show Opening In Belfast Maine- May 22, 2008



I have been working..both in and out of the studio.

My gardens are starting to look good. I think that June is when they are at their prime. I am looking forward to that! Both our sons gave me plants for the gardens for Mother's Day [and dinner out to boot!!]. Such good men they are!!!

On The art front: The 2008 Festival of Art presented at The Hutchinson Center in Belfast opens on Thursday, May 22nd with a Reception for the artists and public. I will be there... and so will my casein "She Rode A Purple Horse". My painting "In Your Face" is hanging in the Gothic Building storefront window in Belfast on Maine Street , along with some other local artists' works, to celebrate this show. There is a Biblical saying "A prophet is not recognised in his own country"....so it is with me. This is almost my first local showing...new for the Belfast arena, not Maine. I look forward to getting more involved with the art scene here.

"The Horses In Art" show at the Columbia Art League has closed and is now being moved to the Wildlife Experience Museum in Parker, CO. My two casein paintings [ "Shades of Black # 8" and
"Shades of Black # 9" ] hanging in that show, will be traveling to the museum for the Opening Reception on June 6th, 2008. I will not be able to go to that opening.....


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What May Means To Me Or Why I Blog


May has always been a special month for my family…spring is in full swing, my husband’s birthday falls in May and of course so does Mother’s Day. But this year [and last year] May has taking on new meaning for us as it is designated as Stroke Awareness Month.
And we are very aware about stroke. Now.

On July 29th of 2006, my husband and I, along with my sister who was visiting from California, were all headed from our farm in Morrill, Maine to my eldest brother’s home in New Hampshire to celebrate his 70th birthday. It was a surprise party for him and for the first time in a long time, my siblings and I were going to be together to party and have a good time. We arrived on time and I got out of our car to greet everyone, feeling so happy to see us all together. My sister-in-law, Bev walked up to me and started talking …I could hear her, but I couldn't make out a word that she was saying. I didn’t feel right, but was busy looking around at everybody when I realized I couldn't see my right hand or arm and I couldn’t figure out where they were…and I was still trying to understand Bev. She sounded like a slow broken record and her words were all jumbled to me. I looked around for my husband, Les and when I saw him I asked, “Where’s my arm? And he said “By your side? What’s the matter?” Then I guess everyone saw something was wrong with me. I remember them helping me into the shade of a huge tree on the grounds and helping to lay me down on the ground. I looked up at everyone…I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t really talk and tell them what I felt and a sea of faces looked down on me. But through it all a strange feeling of calm and peacefulness filled my being and I knew it would be all right. I was suffering a stroke. I missed my brother’s 70th.

To make a long story short…I was rushed to a hospital in N.H. and then was transported by ambulance to Portland, Maine, and admitted into Maine Medical Center. This was done in order that I should be closer to my family and doctors.
Tests were started.. The left side of my brain had been ‘attacked’ when the blood flow was interrupted or stopped due to a blood clot. A significant part of my left temporal lobe was affected and this left me with right-sided paralysis and Aphasia. Aphasia is a condition where language problems make it difficult to talk the way I used to and makes writing very difficult for me. Something that was so important to me in my life [I have worked as a newspaper reporter and fashion editor in the past…and wrote poetry] ....was now something that was so difficult. My understanding and comprehension of speech were unimpaired, but speech itself became hard as my speech related muscles wouldn’t cooperate and my brain could not find the words to say what I wanted to.


But what was more important to me, as I lay on the hospital bed with my family around me…could I draw??? I managed to get the nurse to understand what I wanted…. a pencil and paper. She brought them and everyone looked on as I sketched an eye, a horse head……….okay… I could live with the limitations I had a this point. I could draw, and this would mean I could paint. Life was good!!!

In the week that passed in between hospital tests, MRI’s and blood work, I sketched some, slept a lot, but I knew I needed to get home, to our quiet farm where I would be alone with my husband, see my Corgi and our horses, see and smell our gardens and get down to the business of getting better…. to getting ‘Kathi’ back!

This year and half that has passed has been difficult. Our horses became my therapy, as I brushed them while walking with a cane my hand and arm gained strength. I cleaned stalls needing the muck fork to help stand up with. Throwing hay and lifting shaving bags became my upper body strengthen exercises. I had a speech therapist come and work with me in our home, who helped me start to get over some the Aphasia problems…and an occupational therapist to help me get my hand coordination back.
And I painted…and drew and I slept. I slept a lot. I still sleep during the day needing naps to replenish my energy.


I started a blog after my therapist suggested that I do it as an exercise to recapture my language skills. Each and every blog entry has my recovery in it. Metaphorically each of my paintings tells of my struggles and my victories...most in the form of equine art.
But through it all I knew that my attitude about what I was going through was more important to me that what had happened to me. My recovery depended on my attitude. I cannot control what happens to me in life..but I can control my attitude. And that is my life mantra now……….’if it’s gonna be..it’s up to me.’



And I have also been blessed with a wonderful husband who has been beside me through it all. Les has been the wind beneath my wings.

So in a nutshell….that is my story. Why I blog.. and the road leading up to the beginning of my blog. That is my story and I am sticking with it.


SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT



STROKE FACTS*
About 700,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 45 seconds.



Stroke kills more than 150,000 people a year. That's about 1 of every 16 deaths. It's the No. 3 cause of death behind diseases of the heart and cancer.



On average, every 3 to 4 minutes someone dies of stroke.



Of every 5 deaths from stroke, 2 occur in men and 3 in women.



The 2004 stroke death rates per 100,000 population for specific groups were 48.1 for white males, 47.4 for white females 73.9 for black males and 64.9 for black females.



Americans will pay about $62.7 billion in 2007 for stroke-related medical costs and disability.



*Source: ASA

STROKE SYMPTOMS*





Any or all of the following:

Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Sudden, severe headaches with no known cause

*Source: AHA statistics 2004

Friday, May 2, 2008

Taking It Laying Down

I have been very busy the last week or so......but I am almost done with a commission and some deadlines I needed to get through. It has been hard forcing myself to stay in the studio. I swear that I will get out in the sun more tomorrow ......transplant some perennials and did I see grass growing that needs mowing already??
I may even get a ride on one of the horses in!!

The 9 x 12" painting above is of one of the draft horses at Acadia National Park. This fellow is done in casein on Colorfix....a favourite combination for me.

More later.........time to feed the horses. [Isn't it always time to feed the horses ,or the dog, or the cat, or the flowers, or the husband...............etc etc....................