In the past few months, I've had a two different advisors recommend Nicolas Bourriaud's "Relational Aesthetics". Relational art or relational aesthetics is a mode or tendency in fine art practice originally observed and highlighted by French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud. Bourriaud defined the approach simply as, "a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space." The artist can be more accurately viewed as the "catalyst" in relational art, rather than being at the centre. The artwork creates a social environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity. Bourriaud claims "the role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever scale chosen by the artist."
In relational art, the audience is envisaged as a community. Rather
than the artwork being an encounter between a viewer and an object,
relational art produces intersubjective encounters. Through these
encounters, meaning is elaborated collectively, rather than in the space of individual consumption.
In some sense, I view my "Many Faces of NF" project in this way. I am using social media to meet others with NF (and without FB there would be no way possible to do this). Then after the person has fundraised or done some sort of NF awareness campaign, I paint their portrait. And, what I am really doing is simply being a conduit. Rarely does anyone see the actual painting and moreover people do not talk about the actual paintings, they talk about the people portrayed. It's more like I am here simply making introductions. I just happen to use watercolor to do it.
What I am really going to use this blog post for is to highlight my daily Facebook postings. Each day in May I am highlighting a NF Hero and sharing his or her story. The first day of May, I simply shared my page, The Many Faces of NF.
So, beginning on May 2, 2013 here are the postings:
May 2, 2013: Tony Mixon
Meet Tony Mixon
who has NF2 and ran from Jacksonville Beach, FL to Miami Beach FL in
2010 to raise money for NF research. His first symptoms/problems began
in 1988. Tony suffered from extreme headaches and dizziness. Upon
visiting many doctors and undergoing
numerous tests it was determined that heI had a very large brain tumor.
After 2 surgeries the majority... of the tumor was removed but not
without collateral damage. Tony was left with facial paralysis and deaf
on the right side. However, with support of his family and his wonderful
wife his life got back to somewhat normal. He was unaware that what he
had was considered neurofibromatosis type 2 or NF2. Tony later would
undergo more brain tumor surgeries as well and spinal cord tumor
surgeries, the latest being in August of 2009. NF2 is a genetic disorder,
which affects 1 in 25,000 births.
May 3, 2013: Ayden Wagler
Meet Angie Hovis Wagler's
daughter Ayden. Ayden was diagnosed at 8 months of NF and subsequently
Pseudoarthosis of the tibia. She had to have her leg amputated because
of it. The NF was spontaneous and the family had never heard of it until
she was diagnosed. The Waglers raised $5200 in one year for NF research
but the following year had trouble raising money mostly because Angie
had to concentrate her time on taking Ayden to therapy twice a week.
Ayden's mom is quoted as saying "She is the happiest, most energetic,
determined, stubborn, smart, funny girl I know.. And she has taught me
so much about life and how to live it. To never give up ♥ I'm glad I was
picked to be her mom and I wouldn't change a thing about her!! NF is a
genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 4, 2013: Darren Kirk
Meet Darren Kirk
from the United Kingdom. Darren and his two boys both have NF. Darren
routinely does NF awareness skydiving events to raise money for the UK's
NF Charity, the Neuro Foundation. Last year Darren was able to get 21
people to jump out of a plane with him all in the name of NF awareness.
In the process, he and his friends raised just over £6000! NF is a
genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 5, 2013: David Gladyness
Meet Chef David Gladyness.
Besides currently dealing with Neuroendocrine cancer because of the NF,
David has been a camp counselor at Camp New Friends since 2004 (NF Camp
for kids). He has a family history of NF, starting with his maternal grandmother,
his mother, his brother and himself. David elected not to have any
children since he didn't want to take a chance on passing it on. David
organized a party which resulted in a donation of $13,000 for his local
NF group which will be used for his NF family camp in Michigan. NF is a
genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 6 2013, Wyatt Enman
Meet Kallie Southwick Enman's
son Wyatt. In Wyatt's own words: "Sometimes I feel terrible because the
NF hurts. I have tumors that grow inside my body that make it hurt. I
have to get a lot of MRI’s to make sure the tumors aren’t hurting my
body too bad. Sometimes when I run I can’t keep up with my friends
because my legs hurt so bad. I want someone to find a cure for so that I
won’t have it anymore and so that I can play along time without getting
tired. I don’t like to be sick all the time. If they had a cure for NF,
I wouldn’t have to be sick all the time. I want people to know all
about NF so that kids like me won’t get made fun of. It’s not fun to go
to the doctors and hospitals and have all of the tests all the time. But
I know I have to. I have NF, but NF doesn’t have me!" NF is a genetic
disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 7 2013, Tomas Garrido
Meet Hirina Garrido Alfaro's
son, Tomas. In her country of Chile there is no association or group
established for NF, but she is working to change that. She is trying to
create an entity recognized by the state to help them financially and with
health issues. Currently Chile will not invest too much into rare
diseases or incurable genetic disorders. Loosely translated she
explained that only those who have money can opt for a good health
system. Hirina shared this: "I enjoy each day as if it were the last,
his illness sometimes makes me so afraid of losing him, I was kissing
his forehead and discovered a lump under against it, my financial
situation at the moment is rather complicated and I cannot take him to
the doctor. I can only ask God to take care to have money." NF is a
genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 8 2013, Sara Pavesi
Meet Theresa Pavesi's
daughter Sara. Sara is a middle school student who dances ballet about 3
to 4 times each week. Sara recently won a handmade tutu contest,
sponsored by tutus.com, with a blue and green piece she designed and
made with her mom. Blue and green are
the colors of NF support ribbons, and she’ll wear a version of the tutu
when she dances at the NF Hope concert this October in Las Vegas. Sara
has tumors in her chest, on her rib cage, under her arm and on her optic
nerve. NF is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 9 2013, David Groudas
Meet David Groudas.
Because of NF, David has a degenerative disk in the lumbar portion of
his back which contributes to his spinal stenosis. David also has Chiari
I Malformation with a syrinx to which he had to undergo surgery. The
results of the first surgery didn't turn
out very well, so David had to undergo the surgery again. Besides being
a huge supporter of the Children's Tumor Foundation, David finds time
to spread awareness by his huge NF sidewalk chalk drawings. The drawings
usually spell out "Cure NF" and can take up the entire length of his
driveway. NF is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 10 2013, Lucy Collier
Meet Mary Collier's
daughter, Lucy. They live in a small town in western Australia. Lucy
has an optic glioma (brain tumour wrapped around her optic nerve) that
is inoperable and is slowly affecting her eyesight. She has a severe
scoliosis that she wears a spinal brace
22 hours a day. She has epilepsy and before medication was having up to
20 seizures a day, now she is medicated she only has around 4. She has
Autism and associated learning, behaviour and social problems, she also
has ADHD and anxiety disorder. She is starting to grow a few plexiform
tumors too. Six months after Lucy's diagnosis the family had blue bands
made with NF type 1 on them. Lucy's older sister sold them at school for
a donation to raise money and awareness. In fact, their small town
raised $24,000 Australian dollars to fund a therapy pool for Lucy. The
town has been a fantastic support. NF is a genetic disorder which
affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 11 2013, Michael Forbes
Meet Michael Forbes.
As a child Michael remember seemingly endless doctor visits exploring
treatments for NF. NF slowed him down. He did not walk until he was two
and didn't start talking until four. Operations on his hips corrected
his walking at age 11, yet doctors
advised that he stop playing soccer and riding his bicycle. The school
district denied repeated requests from his parents to test him for
learning disabilities. He rarely received an A or B. Basically, his
childhood taught him that having Neurofibromatosis was not normal and he
had to be fixed. Michael has a new project now. Implementing his love
for travel, he travels Route 66 meeting others with NF and giving
presentations. His personal interpretation of NF is that it can create
change every single day. He never knows what will happen in regards to
NF, similar to the the unexpected experiences while traveling Route 66.
NF is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 12 2013, Kristi Hopkins
Happy Mother's Day! Let me introduce an amazing mom, Kristi Hopkins.
Kristi is a 30 something mom of 6 kids and also has NF1. Kristi grew
up in a family where Neurofibromatosis was curse word. The utter mention
of it grew guilt and fear in her
parents. Understandably so. She was officially diagnosed with NF when
she was 33 yrs old. She grew up watching her Mom and older brother
struggle with the symptoms, but never had any real issues until after
her own diagnoses. As a child, she knew she was different, but no one
knew it was because of NF. After symptoms began appearing, even Kristi
denied that it was in fact NF.... hiding in her fear. It has taken her a
long time, to finally accept the diagnoses, and break the cycle of fear
and resentment. Instead of just living with NF, Kristi has chosen to
THRIVE! Using the fear and turning it into doing something productive
and positive! She has written the book "Thriving with
Neurofibromatosis". NF is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000
May 13 2013, Bailey Gribben
Meet Anita Power Gribben's
son, Bailey. Bailey is 15 years old and has NF2. Bailey describes
himself as "a regular kid in honor classes who loves science and
volunteering to help developmentally disabled kids in their special
basketball & baseball programs". In
Bailey's own words: "NF just keeps interupting my life! In 2008 I had a
meningioma tumor removed from my spinal cord and in 2009 I had 3 brain
surgeries in one week to remove a brain tumor, blood clot and insert a
vp shunt. For the past 18 months I have been in a clinical drug trial
hoping to do my part in finding a treatment for NF and hopefully one day
soon a cure for myself and all the people who suffer from NF. I have to
go to the doctor in NYC once or twice a month for bloodwork, checkup
and meds. Every 3 months I get a 2 hour MRI of my brain & spinal
cord, to monitor the tumors that I still have - and an eccocardiogram
and audiogram. I am now involved in the NF2 natural history study at NIH
(national Institute of health), where I will go for testing every 6
months for 5 years, to help doctors and scientists to study and
understand better and hopefully one day lead to treatments and a cure
for NF! We NEED to find a cure and research medications to stop these
tumors from growing REALLY SOON. I have BIG plans and dreams and I will
NOT let NF2 stop me from doing what I want to do." NF2 is a genetic
disorder which affects 1 in 25,000 births.
May 14 2013, David Oosterloo
Meet David Oosterloo.
David is from the Netherlands and has NF. His NF has manifested itself
in several different ways including having about 7 or 8 neurofibromas
(bumps). One is pretty big on his lower lip, where it hangs his lip down
and has affected his teeth. This is
actually the most tedious fibroma not because it hurts, but because he
looks "different" because of it. The NF has also given him scoliosis.
The doctors put it locks with two iron bars in his spine to help out, so
they won't grow together. The downside is that his shoulders and lower
back are taxed more. David's lung capacity is 70% and tires more quickly
than other people. David has droopy eyelids and has difficulty reading
something from long distance. For several years he has suffered from
hyperventilation and panic attacks resulting from NF. David, who enjoys
building websites, has started an online NF support group www.watisnf.nl
to get everyone involved in NF awareness. He also has chat rooms and
places for people to vent or exchange ideas about where to get the best
treatments. NF is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 15 2013, Jacqueline Dunlap
Meet JoAnne Pastel's
daughter, Jacqueline. Jacqueline has NF1 due to a spontaneous gene
mutation. Jacqueline's mom, JoAnne, is consistently raising money and
giving for the cause of NF. JoAnne is a Twin Cities children’s author
who wrote “Bur Bur & Friends,” which
features young characters with disabilities and medical conditions.
But, to accomplish more for Jacqueline and other children with NF,
JoAnne joined the Board of Directors for the Children’s Tumor
Foundation, a group dedicated to “ending neurofibromatosis through
research.” Jacqueline has multiple café au lait spots, a plexiform
neurofibroma on the back of her head, a neurofibroma on the tip of her
tongue, and a slight bowing of her left arm. However, Jacqueline is a
typical preschooler with lots of energy and charm who is always trying
to keep up with her 10-year-old brother. NF is a genetic disorder which
affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 16 2013, Nick Stolzenburg
Meet Rebecca Schultz- Stolzenburg's
son, Nick. Nick's NF was caused by a spontaneous gene mutation. Last
year, Nick was diagnosed with cancer. On Dec.10, 2011 he had a tumor
removed from his scalp. On the 19th, they called to tell his mom it
was malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor. Well, after more MRIs, a
bone scan, a PET scan, more biopsies, & a mediport placed in him- he
received his first round of inpatient chemo on Jan 23, 2012 (4 days, 3
nights). His next round of chemo was put on hold because he had to get
surgery to remove the tumor in his neck, near the left carotid artery.
His case was presented to a sarcoma board at St. Jude's hospital &
Roswell & they all agree that the tumor needs to come out whether
its benign or cancer. Rebecca and I wanted to paint Nick with all of his
wonderful hair since he lost it all during chemo. As of one year ago,
the doctors said that there were NO cancer cells and Nick's hair is
finally starting to grow back. In his mom's words: "We continue to be
extremely thankful for Nick's positive & incredible attitude through
all of this. He is such an amazing young man with strength most of us
could only wish for!!" NF is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000
May 17 2013, Siobhan Clarke
Meet Siobhan Clarke.
She was diagnosed with NF1 at the age of 4. The doctors told her mom
that she wouldn't live past 6 years old. Not only did she prove them
wrong, she has endured quite a bit because of NF. In her words: "I am
legally blind in my left eye, have NO
depth preception, EXTREMELY limited to no periphreal vision, and SEVERE
loss of field vision in my right eye. I also have a tumor on my optic
nerve and my pituitary gland. My body is covered in hundreds of CAL
spots and tumors; above and below the skin, but my brain, head, scalp
and spine are the most effected-(my spine is covered in teeny tiny
tumors). I've also had 28 surgeries. I spent 3/4 of my childhood at A.I.
DuPont Hosptial for Children in Wilmington, DE seeing 16 specialists
for my NF. Growing up was the most difficult challenge of them all. I
had not one single friend. Everyone made fun of me and called me names
like: tumor girl, tumor head, mountain range, lumpy lacky, one-eye,
cyclops, polka-dot **** breath; I can go on. One time I was at the park
by my house and about 10 kids surrounded me and threw rocks at me, spit
on me until my Mom came up and freaked out and she got in trouble. I was
thrown down a flight of steps, had lockers opened on my blind side and
above me so when I moved I would hit my tumors or walk into it bc it was
out of my sight range, tripped! I look back at all of these events; and
I think, WHY?" NF is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 3000 births.
May 18 2013, Anne Barron Shigley
Friday, May 17, 2013
That posed the dilemma of do I just try and do a slow and informed underpainting or should I just try and do more of a poster exercise where I concentrate on the planes of the face and see if I can't figure out the skin tones and just sort of forego the idea of modeling and caring about edges and all of that. I went for the poster study. After all, most portrait painters I know always do a quick posterized study of their model first simply to figure out the right values and color relationships.
For the limited time we had, I am fairly happy with this quick posterized oil sketch. The hair color is spot on and the lightness of her skin color, although difficult, I think I captured fairly well. Now, if I had more time, I would really like to go in and get the muzzle fixed and do some modeling around the nose and really look more closely, but the buzzer went off and the night was over. It is what it is, it is simply practice.
I am very lucky with this group as we have really gotten into a good rhythm and know the routine well enough now that we can meet every Tuesday night and just simply practice painting portraits from life. I don't really expect these practice sessions to produce anything wonderful, but I do think it is really helpful to keep painting from life and it forces me to train my eye rather than just relying solely on photographs.
Just more brush mileage.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
|Oil sketch from a live model |
Session #3- Last session
Just spending my time practicing. And with so many years of painting from photographs I have noticed just how rusty I've become from painting from life. In the next few weeks, I have lined up some models that I will be painting 2 hour portrait studies from, so I am looking forward to that. It's always nice to just have some time to practice and just paint without any sort of pressure to finish. I am lucky enough to have several
students who have also expressed interest in painting from a live model that it didn't take any time at all to get a painting group together and a place to paint from. One of my students is a docent from the Joslyn. She has taken many of my painting classes and is a really wonderful person and fantastic artist. She graciously opened her basement up for my idea. Splitting the cost to pay for the model was terrific and keeps the entire idea affordable for all of us. I know other painters who will model for each other and I have done that too, but I'd rather be painting than modeling (time is precious since I have kids). So, this worked out really well.
|Oil sketch from a live model |
Painting from life is such a great exercise and really sharpens my eye and forces me to really rethink color relationships. Whereas photography makes me really rethink compositions, forces me to not do the usual mimetic solutions and introduces very interesting angles and distortion.
|Oil sketch from a live model, |
Sunday, May 5, 2013
|Hamburg Inn No 2. -- One of Iowa City's gems|
I even got to sit in the "Presidential Booth"
For my last meeting I really just wanted my mentor to take a look at the the studies I've been doing from life. I really struggle with looking in the mirror and then painting self portraits. I put a bright light on myself for most of them and I think he found that to be rather odd. He had some really get reactions and had some solid advice about always having a reason for everything in the painting. There were a few times when he'd ask why I wiped away the background the way I did or used the color that I did. I really didn't have an answer, I think I just thought the paint was chunky so I wiped it off, but when I looked at it again, he was right it was distracting or odd or just not well thought out.
He talked about color, composition and not coming to the paintings with ideas in mind already but just simply painting and letting what happens simply happen without any preconceived ideas. He thought that, oftentimes, I already know how something is going to look even before I start which is stunting my growth as a painter.
He would like me to really practice painting my self portrait and asked me to do 100 self portraits in one month's time. So, that's the plan for this month. The upside to this project is that he has already seen so many crappy paintings of mine that there really is nowhere to go but up.
Truthfully, this last meeting was bittersweet.
I've been so lucky to be able to spend time with a close friend of mine and her family each month. We've been friends since I was about 12 years old and we spent every summer together until I was about 19. She was in my wedding and I was in hers. Understandably, distance and family commitments always creep into our lives and so dear friends can inadvertently get relegated to a happy birthday greeting or a Christmas card.
So, it was really enjoyable to be able to see her on a monthly basis and pretty much just insert myself into their weekends. I not only felt welcomed, but got to see her two girls who have, naturally, grown rather than staying the age that I remember them being from old pictures.
One evening, I even got to attend one of her work parties as her guest and therefore allowing her husband the chance to stay home and get some extra work done on a manuscript he's working on to get some extra money for their family vacation. In that case, I have a feeling he was rather happy that I showed up!
I also enjoyed driving around the town and seeing the different buildings and parts of the University. My favorite stop was the Hamburg Inn 2. Her daughters love to get "pie shakes". Not sure I want a piece of pie and ice cream mixed together in a blender, but they both seem to love it.
At night, I got to sleep in her youngest daughter's room. Her daughter is in 2nd grade and is very interested in drawing cartoon pigs. I absolutely loved looking at her drawings. The one that hangs over the bed is a drawing of a very, very large and long beard. Inside the beard is a pig's head poking out. Off in the distance someone is threatening to shave off that beard so the pig inside is loudly bemoaning "Nooooooooo!"
I gave my friend a hug goodbye this morning. I miss her already.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
|Lunch Hours #1, #2, #3|
|Lunch Hours #4, #5, #6|
|Last Lunch Hour.|
So, rather than only looking to get those long chunks of time (and one should look for those and make those a reality as well) I figure why not take advantage of all the short little bits of time as well? The best one is the lunch hour.
I always carry a sketch book. That way I can draw whenever I want and for however much time I am given. This is why it is not such a major ordeal if I am left waiting to get my oil changed, waiting for a flight, waiting at the doctor's office, etc. I just simply draw.
Additionally, I've always looked at time as a valuable resource. So, even though right now I would rather be painting from life, when my friend offered to model for me, albeit over her lunch hour, I took her up on it. Why turn that down and not get to do anything?
She, on the flipside, also got the unique experience of being drawn from life too. She is not an artist by trade, but a computer programmer.
I wonder if her place of employment would notice the smell of oil paint and a tarp on the floor with a french easel for the next 7 weekday lunches? hmmmm...
Friday, April 26, 2013
|60 x 48 oil and collage on canvas. (Not finished)|
At some point you've been at the doctor's office waiting with your child for the physician. First we all wait in the waiting room amongst other parents and patients. We might make small talk with someone if they smile at us first. Other people in the room will do everything possible to not make eye contact. I think IPhones were created just for this purpose. IPhones and any Smart Phone lets people delude themselves into pretending they are busy. Plus even if they are not doing anything with their phones they can make the rest of us believe that they are and then they do not have to make any eye contact. I understand why people do not want to make eye contact or small talk. They don't want to be there. I don't either.
|Updated April 22 -Thought I should take a pic of the |
mighty sturdy frame and what it looks like stretched.
After at least an hour of waiting in the bland and sterile waiting room, a nurse will come out with a clipboard and tell us to go to a room. Here's where the fun starts. That nurse will come in as well and ask some standard questions. Typically she has already filled the fields before I have even answered. Sometimes for fun, I like to pause and pretend like I am really thinking about the question and then I say "Funny, no one has ever asked if my son is allergic to latex...no...no, I'm quite certain he is not".
|"The Doctor Will Be With You Shortly"|
72" x 48" oil on canvas - lay in stage.
The physician will do an exam and utter terms and numbers to his assistant. The assistants are then given instructions about what to do next for my son's exam. The physician leaves. The assistant leaves.
The assistant comes back in and administers drops, an IV or whatever is necessary. They typically ask if we want to watch tv. We search for cartoons. My boys are tired of waiting. They fidget. They start staring at all the drawers and tools that they are not allowed to touch or play with.
|2/7/13 Spent the past 5 days going through medical files. |
Transferred them to the canvas as the wallpaper and flooring.
The physician and assistant leave.
The physician comes in and tells us some good news. He or she will always tell you good news no matter what. They must learn that in a class in medical school. Always find something positive to say first. Then he or she minimizes what might be bad news. They will use terms like "let's keep monitoring"...and "possibly another surgery".
They say this to at least plant the seed so then at the next appointment it won't seem like dropping a bomb onto the patient. It is how I would do it too. I don't fault them at all. My son has wonderful doctors who are looking after him. I trust that he is in good hands. Of course, I trust that because it is also what I want to believe. No one wants to think "Did this gal get last place in medical school because she seems like a real doo dah".
And what, again, do we do?
What we do best. We wait. We watch. We monitor and we schedule another exam. Then the cycle starts again.
And we just simply
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
|"Joan Playing a Keyboard" - 30 x 24. Oil on canvas.|
|FIRST LAY IN OF COLOR 2-22-13|
30 x 24
oil on canvas
"I am not feeling well today"
"I don't have a nice camera"
"I'm just really busy right now with school and work"
"I don't think I would be an interesting subject"
It only takes a few inquiries to realize that women are the masters of not being able to say "no" so they creatively stall hoping to avoid the conversation.
|UPDATED...(not finished). 3-31-13|
30 x 24
oil on canvas
So, it was time to get a little more creative. And then it struck me. I am asking the wrong people. Why not ask the spouse instead? A supportive spouse is the best arsenal for an artist painting portraits. So, I contacted Larry and told him I wanted to paint his wife playing her keyboard.
I have painted both Larry and Joan Hollis. They both have NF1. I painted Larry first and then painted his wife later. They both fund raised this past year to help raise awareness for NF. In fact, I donated money to their campaign as well. It is also rather interesting to meet a husband and wife who both have NF. At least they both intimately know what their partner is going through instead of just trying to guess at it.
Finally, I got some really good images. And, I am happy to say I finally am getting a woman involved in these oil portraits. Now, let's hope she likes it!