Jared’s Art Heart

Jared

Jared – by Lisa Kretchman, watercolor and pastel, 2016

 

It’s winter here in New England, and all I see out my window is snow. Though it’s been a mild winter, a recent storm dropped almost a foot of snow in my area, coating everything, and bringing a pristine beauty to the woods by my home. But while it’s shades of grey and white outside, in my studio I see the brilliant greens and blues of summer. I’m revisiting the Art Hearts series with one last piece of artwork inspired by nature and exploration. This piece is for a boy named Jared.

Jared’s parents did not know he had a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) until he was born. Because of pre-eclamsia, his mother had an emergency c-section, and Jared was transferred to the NICU for observation. Within a few hours the family was told they would have to transfer Jared to Children’s Hospital due to his CHD – Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). Four days later Jared had open heart surgery. While that entire week his parents faced this surprise diagnosis and prayed for his health, ultimately the surgery was successful and Jared recovered from it well.

Today Jared does not remember his surgery, and he is a bright, active boy. I contacted Jared’s family, and his mother told me that he loves the outdoors – fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, all ways of being out in nature with his Dad. His best friend is his beloved beagle Bentley, and his favorite color is blue.

Thumbnail sketches for Jared's Art Heart

Thumbnail sketches for Jared’s Art Heart

So for Jared, I really loved the idea of the connection he has to living things and nature. It did take me some time to settle on a direction for this piece, and I did some research on symbols to work with, especially centering on the stag. Eventually I thought the greens and blues would work well for this with a landscape incorporating woods and river, for hunting and fishing.

watercolor detail of buck

watercolor detail of buck

The stag is a symbol of the Artemis – Greek Goddess of wild animals and hunting, as well as patron of child delivery and infant survival. But it also represents transformation in Irish culture. So here I let the Celtic sybolism unite the artwork and it’s color pallette with all the greens of the landscape.

Detail of tree of life

Detail of tree of life

I also incorporated a tree of life standing apart from the foggy woods. With branches reaching upward and roots below, it represents the link between heaven and earth. I softened the distant trees with wet watercolor so that the large tree would stand out. Using white gouache I added a little glow around the tree.

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Beagle and clover in the foreground

 

Bentley inspired this little hunter beagle in the foreground, pointing toward our stag. He also serves as a symbol of courage, loyalty, and healing. Next to him I placed a patch of clover, as the shamrocks represent the trinity of earth, sea, and sky (reminding me of how Jared loves all aspects of the outdoors), as well as good fortune.

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Painting with watercolor base for edge

 

Once the inner space in the heart was painted, I added a base layer of watercolor for around the heart. This would be blue, Jared’s favorite color.

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Painting with layers of pastel burst around heart

 

And for the final touches I added more layers of pastel in varying shades of blue to make the heart really glow. I hope with it’s lush landscape and connection to nature that this painting brings joy to Jared and his family, and that they enjoy a future of happiness, healing, and good fortune as are symbolized here.

Jared's completed Art Heart

Jared’s completed Art Heart

This is the eighteenth and final piece in my Art Hearts series, which I am donating to Olivia’s Heart Fund. Please check out the Art Hearts page to read more about the project. If you’d like to purchase a print or greeting card of this or other paintings, they are available through the charity’s store, and all proceeds benefit Olivia’s Heart Fund. If you are so inspired, you can make a donation to the charity by clicking here or on the button below to visit the Olivia’s Heart Fund site. (please note that at the time of posting, the charity’s website is under construction and will be up again as soon as possible)

After eighteen essays and paintings, I have worked my way through all the stories collected by Olivia’s Heart Fund for the Art Hearts project. This is the first day of Congenital Heart Defect awareness week for 2016, and so the perfect time to post the last painting. This series has helped me to better understand how many people in our community are facing Congenital Heart Defects, and the stresses they endure. It is hard to take something so frightening and painful and turn that experience into hope, strength and beauty, but that is what these families do every day. I hope that by reading about their experiences I have created something that honors their journey, and I appreciate the kindness of the participants in this project for letting me do so.
Thank you Pete and Julie of Olivia’s Heart Fund, and volunteers Kelli, Jess, Kim and many others for their help in this project. I will post more information on when and where we will show the artwork in the coming year!

Ryan’s Art Heart

Ryan – by Lisa Kretchman, watercolor, pastel, and metal leaf, 2014

Welcome to February! This is truly a month about the heart, but it is much more than greeting cards and chocolates for Valentine’s Day. February is American Heart Month, a time to show some self-love, and be aware of risks to your heart health. Friday the 6th was also National Wear Red Day, raising awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. And today starts CHD awareness week, where we honor our heart heroes that face the challenges of Congenital Heart Defects. It is appropriate that to kick off the week, I have a new Art Heart for a little boy named Ryan.

Ryan’s parents found out that he had a ventricular septal defect (a hole between the lower chambers of the heart) 22 weeks into the pregnancy. In addition, Ryan also had transposition of the great arteries (where the pulmonary artery and aorta have switched positions). Though several cardiologists recommended they terminate the pregnancy, Ryan’s parents knew that was not an option for them. They were eventually referred to Boston Children’s Hospital, where Ryan was born, and had his first surgery at four days old. He came through the surgery without complications, and now, years later, is growing to be a happy and healthy boy.

Ryan’s parents know they are lucky for the outcome of his surgery, but will always be aware of his health – for them, every sniffle and injury is a risk to his heart, and they have developed more patience and appreciation for each day with Ryan as a result. He is their little hero, and a reminder to not sweat the small stuff.

So when I communicated with Ryan’s Mom and got an update on his life,  she helped me get a better sense of who Ryan is now. I also asked if he is aware of his own CHD journey, since the surgery happened when he was so young.

He is now 5 years old. He is happy and healthy. He loves school. His favorite color is orange. He is obsessed with LEGO [Bricks]. He has a great imagination. He enjoys playing outside and riding his bike.

Ryan is a very funny boy. He is shy fat first but once he gets to know someone, he’s very outgoing. He’s also a very sweet and sensitive boy.

We have told him about his journey but I don’t think he quite gets the whole thing idea. He knows he had a boo boo on his heart and the doctors in Boston fixed him and now he’s a superhero. He actually has a girl in his class with the same defects.

Now this just gave me some great ideas for a heart for Ryan! I loved the LEGO® movie (everything is awesome!!), and found that there is a free 3d LEGO® digital designer software you can play with. I sketched a concept and then “built” it virtually so that I’d have a fun reference for the painting:

The first concept for Ryan’s heart

The little super hero on top was in honor of Ryan. My favorite part was probably the little doctor fixing the hole in his heart with wrenches and such.

I especially liked the doctor at the bottom with his tools

Now I know there are some books and photos out there that people sell with LEGO® brick scenes, but I’d really hate to put Olivia’s Heart Fund in an awkward position should the LEGO Group have a problem with prints of this artwork being sold. From what info I could find online, that’s a no-no. It is their trademark after all (especially the minifigs), so I sent a letter to corporate asking permission first.

LEGO actually got back to me fairly quickly, and very politely. They did say that I am  allowed to make the art and display it, but prints could not be sold. Ah well. Rather than limit the charity on future use of the artwork, I decided to start over with a new concept.

By the way – legal disclaimer here:

LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.

So back to the new concept. I thought of something still involving building, bricks, etc, since that is something that makes Ryan happy. That and the symbolism I wanted helped me to settle on the lighthouse/tower. I wanted to incorporate a local landmark if possible, so the drawing is based on Point Judith Light in Narragansett, RI.

So this sketch has some similarities to the Tower card seen in tarot cards. The traditional tower in those images is in a storm, with waves crashing against the rocks, and sometimes being struck by lightning. But the Tower itself is not a bad card, so much as one that represents a sudden change, of a world turned upside down. Plans are disrupted, but the storm will pass, and then will shine the light of truth.

This tower for Ryan is also a lighthouse – a symbol of strength, and guidance to safe harbor. It is a beacon in the darkness. If the churning sea and storm represent uncertainty and emotion, the lighthouse is a steadiness and calm.

And so Ryan’s lighthouse/tower shows the unexpected challenge his CHD diagnosis has made for him and his family. There are still waves breaking here on the rocks, but the storm is passing, and the beacon still shines brightly. If it weren’t for the dangerous storm, we wouldn’t have the lighthouse in its beauty and grace. And we see a glimpse of the future in Ryan’s bicycle, to enjoy the world and the sunshine as it returns. To be grateful for every moment.

The sketch and first layers of watercolor

So now that I had a better working concept, I started on the painting. After taping down some watercolor paper, I got the sketch transferred, and then added the first layers of watercolor inside the heart.

Center of the heart painted

The first round didn’t look too bad, and I liked the way the bricks in the lighthouse were standing out, but I didn’t feel that the sky had enough contrast.

The sky with darker layers of watercolor

After a few more layers in the clouds, it looked much more like a storm passing, which made more sense with the crashing waves in the foreground. Also this added a stronger diagonal energy with the waves on the left.

Some gouache splatters to add energy to the waves

I did some splattering of white gouache to bring out the splashing sea foam…

…and added a bicycle for Ryan.

Pastel added around the heart

After the center of the heart was done, I painted an orange background around the heart. I layered pastel over it to give the heart radiance, and worked back and forth on the delicate railing and the pastel, so that I could keep the detail crisp.

Metal leaf and metallic ink

To make the lightning and the beacon stand out, I added gold leaf and metallic ink on top of the watercolor.

Ryan’s completed Art Heart

And the lighthouse is complete! I hope that Ryan and his family enjoy this painting, and I thank then for sharing their story. I know that Ryan does not currently have much awareness of his CHD journey, but when he does ask about it, I hope he knows that he is also a light of hope for others.

This is the seventeenth of my Art Hearts which I am donating to Olivia’s Heart Fund. Please check out the Art Hearts page to read more about the project. If you’d like to purchase a print or greeting card of this or other paintings, they are available through the charity’s store, and all proceeds benefit Olivia’s Heart Fund. If you are so inspired, you can make a donation to the charity by clicking here or on the button below to visit the Olivia’s Heart Fund site. Enjoy!

Using Pinterest for heart inspiration on Valentine’s Day

Pinterest board with images and links to resources found on the web

Happy Valentine’s Day out there! I’ve been playing around with Pinterest lately. If  you haven’t checked it out yet, it basically allows users to collect images and video, either from the web or uploaded from their computer onto a “pin board” which links back to the original source. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought this would be a fun way to collect a lot of heart resources, from instructional sites, to jewlery and homegoods, to some of my art. Here is a link to my Heart Board. Enjoy!

Art Hearts Opening Night!

Adree’s Art Heart and portrait at the QVCAH

Wow! January was a busy month. With the last of the preparations completed, we got an exhibition of the Art Hearts up and running! It was a squeeze to get everything done in time but it was totally worth it.

Laurie’s Art Heart and portrait

Our opening night of the Art Hearts show for Olivia’s Heart Fund was a blast! Brian and I arrived a little early to set up the last part of the exhibit – a laptop with a multimedia presentation detailing the Art Hearts project. My paintings and Jessie Coristine’s photos were hung earlier that day. Each painting is paired with a portrait of the heart recipient, with his or her name and a brief synopsis of the heart story.

Katelyn and Julia’s Heart and portrait, by the multimedia presentation
Olivia’s pieces on the piano, with Cloe’s in the background

The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities is a lovely restored colonial building, so a number of the hearts are displayed over a fireplace. Others are paired up over available wall space. Olivia’s are centered in the main room on a piano, right where the action was at during the reception.

HUGS!! Thank you, Adree!
Adree and I pose for pics in front of her painting

I was very lucky to get hugs from some of our participating heart families during the opening. Brianna and her grandparents came to see her painting, as well as Anna and her parents. I also got to meet the talented Adree in person, and she brought me a beautiful handmade scarf, courtesy of Adree Creations™! As you can see from the photos (thanks to hubby as I broke the cardinal rule and forgot my camera), we are all wearing red for National Wear Red Day for the American Heart Association. My scarf matched perfectly (and was full of awesome!) so I sported that the rest of the night.

Julie and Pete Ostiguy, founders of Olivia’s Heart Fund

Julie and Pete from Olivia’s Heart Fund made it up to the exhibit, and brought some prints and cards to sell for the charity. Thank you to all those who supported us by coming out to visit and brought home a little Art Heart of their own. It was a great night, and an auspicious beginning to showing the project as it develops. We are hoping to bring the artwork back to the QVCAH when the series is complete.

Info about the OHF mission, with prints and cards of the Art Hearts

The Art Hearts project will be shown at the QVCAH throughout the month of February. The building is open 12-4 on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as by appointment. It was a wonderful night, and a successful collaboration. Pictures of the event and Brianna, Anna and Adree with their paintings even made the local paper! Many thanks go to Monika and Dimitriy and the board members of the QVCAH who totally made this happen. :-)

Share Hearts 2 and 3

Rebirth  6″ x 6″ mixed-media
Two new hearts for the share project. I’ve been drawn to this butterfly icon lately, so I incorporated it into one of the hearts. The butterfly is also pastel, cut and fixed to the paper to add some dimension.
Grow  6″ x 6″ mixed-media
Both of these pieces are pastel over a watercolor base. I like the addition of some text to the paintings – the grow lettering is cut from old books and pasted to the painting.

Share Hearts project

Talisman  6″ x 6″ mixed- media


In reconnecting with my fine art work, I wanted to create a series of small pieces to be gifted. I will be merging the digital side of my work with this project in creating a multimedia presentation of the project, incorporating a portrait and basic info about the recipient of each piece.

To keep the works unified, I am focusing on one basic shape – a heart – as the core imagery for the art. Here’s the first of the pieces. I am hoping to complete a minimum of twenty in the series. I will have to sort out the grid of art works and how they will fit into the digital presentation to finalize that number. I will also have to find some particpants for the share part of the project.
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