Thursday, April 30, 2009

Be Aware This May

May is Stroke Awareness month. It is also the month that my solo art show titled ”Finding My Voice” opens in Lexington, Kentucky at Gallery B, with a reception on May 8th from 5-8 pm. The works in this show were recreated over that past two and a half years…since August of 2006. That date is pivotal in the theme of the show. But let me digress…read my blog entry of May 19th, 2008 that explains a lot. ....

"What May Means To Me Or Why I Blog" MAY 19TH 2008

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’s mantra now……….’if it’s gonna’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.

SO…. next week, May 2009, we head down to Lexington, KY. for my solo show and a chance to explain to folks about stroke and the ramifications of it on it’s victims and their caregivers. I am one of the “lucky” stroke survivors…After a life time of suffering TIA’s [ little mini strokes ] and not knowing what they were really about…I feel a need now to tell more people about stroke and it’s symptoms. If I had paid attention to the TIA’S over the years before, maybe today I wouldn’t have the language skills deficit and the right-sided physical problems that I have today. What I didn’t tell doctors kept me from having the care I should have had before the stroke even happened. If I can help one person from experiencing stroke…it is worth it. Folks just don’t know ……maybe I can help?

But on the bright side….I do hope to see you at my reception…May 8th…5 to 8…be there!!! I will be looking for you!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Series & New Schedule

This morning the skies are a bit gray. We have had some glorious weather prior, with the maple buds bursting, giving the woods around our farm a lovely pink cast The pussy willows are beyond cat paws stage and now hang down with a light yellow glow and spring is really in the air. It always amazes me how spring is heralded in with mostly yellow colors. At least in my gardens. I delight in the changing colors as the spring and summer processes. Love it!

I have decided for the most part, from now on I will work 5 days a week in the studio and will allot my weekends to spending time doing other than studio work. I think I have earned it! And we will see how long I can stick with it!

This is new casein, pictured above, that I am working on…It is a Work In Progress. A “WIP”. And then I have also been asked to do more dog 'works'…so need to think on that a bit. I have willing subjects just sleeping around the house!

But my heart is really into a new series I am starting, exploring and thinking on.. On the other hand…I have vowed to do some plein air work this summer…[ I said that last year too?]
But the BIG question plaguing me is what to pack to clothes for the KY trip!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

It Might Look Messy

But there really is a method to my works for me. I think I have explained before, in previous posts, that I do not paint in the time honored traditional ways. My palette is not set up traditionally. My entire studio is none conformist! The story of my life!!
I have been asked by several folks, artists and clients, to show a peek at my palette…so aiming to please.. here it is! ” Ah?” You say…..”It’s a mess!!” Maybe by some standards it is. But the most important fact is that I get the paint out of this shamble and do manage to put it down in the right spots on the canvas or board, or paper!

The other question I am frequently asked is "What colors do you use?"
At any given time I might be using Naples Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Scarlet, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Paynes Gray, Shiva Violet, Raw Umber, Venetian Red, Halftone Black, Golden Ochre, Raw Sienna, Terra Verte, [ I LOVE Terra Verte!!]Cadmium Green and of course Titanium White. I don't use a Ivory Black but will often mix my own black black if I need it.

All these colors are employed my casein painting...and I use them on canvas, paper, gessoed board...I love them!
I also love watercolors , but that is another ball of wax!

So my palette might be messy...I agree!! But I think this painting [ "Driven" ] is neat! I am hating to part with it. I sometimes get that feeling about a finished work and hang on to them...this is one of those! But"Driven" is slated to hang in the Gallery B show next month. We are starting to pack works that will be shipped down to Lexington over the next two weeks. My shipper is snoring on the couch at the moment! So I will continue to paint!

Doesn't "Driven" look lovely framed?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Moi AKA Karen

Years another life...I painted models and drew models. My entire day was drawing and sketching models. Part of me misses that..but as my life and surroundings changed, my subjects also changed. My days were filled with horses. I became an equine artist!
I have a dear friend, who is also an artist...and I just finished a painting of her. Karen means a lot to me ...we have been a lot together over the years ...and I wanted, for some reason, to paint her. Here she is. This is a 12 x 12" casein on board. She has challenged me to let her paint me. She asked for a recent photo....HA! Like that is going to happen!!
But I want to say that I am still enjoying painting folks.... or dogs.. and of course, horses. But it will not be just about horses anymore.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Can't STAY Inside Today

Things were getting heated downstairs as I worked in my loft studio...the pups were wrestling and Addie ,our PWC was being terrorized by Nell the JRT. Sometimes I think they do this to get my attention, just like my kids used to! It works! So I headed down to break it up.

The sun was so inviting so we took our lunch and sat on the deck getting some of those rays we were not blessed with during the winter months. Nell is a Florida girl...she LOVES this weather!
Sitting and listening to the brook bubbling by and the birds singing.... Things we just dream about during Maine's chilly snow filled winters.

So after our sunbath and lunch break I went back up to my loft to work on a casein painting I am doing and happened to look down to see who was scratching at the back door wanting to go out. Who else but the "beast"!! So like a good mom that I am ....out we went to rake the front gardens and enjoy the day some more. Really! This weather is our award for having survived yet another Maine winter!!! At least that is what my canine companions tell me!!

And I agree!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Framed Again

The past few weeks have been riddled with the distraction of getting a solo art show together of my works for a lovely gallery in Lexington, Kentucky. Gallery B is hanging a show of my artwork that has all been produced since my stroke in the summer of 2006. As I pulled all these works together, I see a definite change in my work since that life changing event ...yes, I have been able to paint since, during and before....but there is a certain "Je ne sais pas que" change in it all. I can't wait to see it all hung in one gallery to make a collective statement. Opening reception is May 8TH at 5-8 pm. I hope all you blog followers who live around Lexington will come and see me and my work....and a portion of all sales will be donated to the National Stroke Association

The Show is called "Finding My Voice". Like many victims of stroke, I was left with language skill deficits ...spelling, finding words, numbers and writing all became hard or at times impossible..but my Lord, my art,our horses and dogs, my gardens, some really great friends and the quietness of our lovely little farm in Maine healed me and life does go on...And golly gee!!!! I am having a solo art show in Lexington, KY....The Heart of Horse Country, USA!!
Two of the smallest paintings are pictured above. These are both from my 'Shades of Black' series, and are done in casein on board...the paintings are only 4 x 4"...neat little squares! This series is a study of light and shadows on black horses at different times of the day and different seasons.
I am excited about the upcoming show..but our farm keeps me grounded.....with cleaning stalls and shedding out dusty winter hair-coats from 4 equine beasts and two canine beasties.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Equestrian

I am painting today when I should be getting things together 'better' for my solo show with Gallery B in Lexington, KY. in May. But I really believe one [ meaning me!] needs to paint while the muse is hot. So I finished this mixed media painting [ 10 x 10 1/4"] of my mother as "The Equestrian". As I explained before in an early post on my blog, and will explain again.....I am working on a series of works depicting my family and times in their lives. I feel a need at this point in my life to make a statement about my family's past. I am hoping that someone will connect with this statement and understand what I am trying to say. At times I don't really know What I am saying?!! So good luck to us all!!
The wind has kicked up a notch here on the farm and gray clouds have replaced the sun that shone earlier. Spring is being it usual fickle self. I don't mind though as the promise of bulbs bursting and flowers blooming is so evident! So while the weather brews a storm, I will take care of things that need being done for the May show and think about what I plan on doing in the gardens when weather permits. It will at some point! It always does!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Feeling "Driven"

The rain is coming down and hopefully will melt a lot of the piled up snow in our barn yard and gardens. I took a break from the studio yesterday while the sun was out and got some raking done...and today I suffer for it. Guess I discovered muscles that weren't worked over the winter, even with daily workouts mucking stalls!!!

This morning, before the rain started, I was able to get a shot of the latest casein off the easel, a 20 x 16" done on board....and I am calling it "Driven". This painting will be going to my solo show next month. The show is called "Finding My Voice" and will be hung at Gallery B in the city of Lexington, KY. I am so happy to say that a portion of all sales in this show will be donated to The National Stroke Foundation. I will be post more on it later.

I have quite a few shows on the agenda this summer and will keep you all up to date on my website Events page. It seems lately that I am juggling too many balls in the air!! But I plan to keep them all airborne! suffice it to say..."I am "Driven!"!!