Adree’s Art Heart

Adree 10″x10″ mixed-media

This week’s Art Heart is inspired by Adree. Adree was five years old when she was diagnosed with congenital heart defect. At a regular check-up, her new doctor had discovered a faint heart murmur. Upon further examination, the doctors determined that Adree had an abnormality of the right coronary artery, and a leak in her mitral valve. Because of this, her blood flow was backing up, and she would need surgery.

For six months following the operation, Adree underwent supervision, a course of blood thinners, and refrained from physical activity. In the three years since her surgery at Children’s Hospital Boston, she has been healthy, and the experience has made her even more compassionate towards others. With her family, she is currently planning a fundraiser for the children there.

So for Adree’s heart, I wanted to know a little more about her personality. Her mom kindly let me know that she is bold and outspoken, as well as artistic and into sewing. When I thought about this, and the colors that she liked, I immediately pictured irises. They too have a bold personality – beautiful in their strong and structured appearance, and rich with their color. Irises are named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow who is a link between heaven and earth. It was believed that she carried messages by that arc from the eye of heaven. The three main petals of the flower represent faith, wisdom and valor.

my watercolors and easel set up at the flower show

I started Adree’s Art Heart at the RI Flower and Garden Show, while volunteering at the table for Olivia’s Heart Fund, so the floral motif was especially appropriate. After sketching out the basic shapes, I applied watercolor within the flower petals, transitioning shades of blue, with touches of yellow and orange. Since I worked on an upright portable easel, I dampened the paper and added dryer washes of color so that the paint wouldn’t run.

the central heart is filled in with watercolor

I alternated areas of color to keep the edges from bleeding into each other, and over the course of the day, I finished the watercolor within the heart shape. Since I was happy with how things looked at this stage, I added the detailed veining of the petals with the watercolor. I just would have to plan less pastel over that layer so as not to obscure the detail.

the spiderweb dotted with metallic paint

I brought the painting home that night, and added the background wash of color all around the heart. When I brought the artwork back for the last day of the flower show, I could focus on the pastel layer. One last item needed to be painted though – the subtle gossamer spiderweb that hides just below the irises. I really wanted to include this as a nod to Adree’s artistic side. The spider is a symbol of creativity, as she is a weaver of the fabric of life. Her work represents a linking of the past and future. To make this opaque enough to contrast with the background, I added it with a blend of white and silver acrylic. Trust me, I worked hard to keep my hand steady and not smudge acrylic all over the place! With a few dots of silver paint like dewdrops over the web, I was ready for the pastels.

pastels bring out the brightest areas and the purple edges of the petals

As much as I liked the watercolor in the irises, I thought I could add a little brightness and saturation with a hint of pastel. Keeping the strokes within the veining, red-purple, white and yellow highlights were added. Wherever I thought it needed it, I blended warmer and brighter greens into the stalks as well. This helped me bring the flower stems forward a bit.

the outside of the heart is smoothed out and made radiant

The last step was to add the pastel area around the heart. In this step I can clean up the heart shape a bit, make the background more consistent, and add a radiant light effect. Overall this painting has a vibrant yet calming quality. It’s important to note that nine is a special number for Adree, and it kept reappearing during this painting. Adree turns nine this week, and hers is the ninth Art Heart for Olivia’s Heart Fund. As referenced earlier, the three main petals are significant in the mythology of the iris, and with three irises in the composition, we have another number nine. I want to wish Adree a joyous ninth birthday, and hope that she enjoys her Art Heart!

If you’d like to read more about the project, please check out the Art Hearts page on my blog. If you feel inspired to make a donation please click here or on the button below to visit the charity’s site. If you’d like to purchase a print or greeting card of this painting, it is available through the charity’s store, and all proceeds benefit Olivia’s Heart Fund. Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Adree’s Art Heart

  1. I so look forward to seeing each new heart, and reading about the process of how you came up with each individual one. You are so talented – this is such an amazing project!

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