Dec
13
2010

Spotlight on Artist ANN FLAHERTY by M Theresa Brown

When a participant in one of our art marketing seminars came up to me afterwards and began to chat about some of the aspects of things we had discussed, little did I realize what an amazing person I was talking with!
Sometimes touching the lives of thousands starts with a simple concept: Finding a need and fulfilling it. 7 years ago, Fiber artist and quilter, Ann Flaherty, from Fayetteville, NC,  is an artist who did just that. Not only did she use her artistic abilities to solve an immediate challenge in her own family with a lonely grandchild who missed his Iraq deployed daddy, she took on the challenge of making sure that ALL lonely children of militarily deployed families had the comfort of soft, snuggly quilts with photo images of their loved ones on the surface!

Ann did not share this story with me until later, through our emails, and I confess to wiping away tears. Her story has so touched my heart that I offered to share it with our many readers.  The story speaks for itself.  

So, in Ann's words:

Operation Kid Comfort

operationkidcomfort.blogspot.com

Comfort. Create. Unite. Operation Kid Comfort creates comfort quilts and pillows for children of deployed service men and women, and offers an opportunity for America to unite in support of military families. Please take a few moments to scroll on down, look at our pictures, and read about our success.

OpKid Beginnings 2005

So many people ask me where Operation Kid Comfort came from, and the simple answer is:
“from love, compassion and patriotism.”

My son-in-law, Mike, was deployed to Iraq at the onset of the war. His son, eighteen-month-old Christian, had no understanding why his Daddy was not coming home from work each evening. Christian had tantrums, became withdrawn, and hoarded photos of Mike in his room. My heart broke, seeing how much my little grandson missed his beloved Daddy.

As a quilt artist, I’ve used photography in my quilts, and made Christian a quilt so he could hold his Daddy close. It worked…and he dragged that quilt everywhere. Christian loved showing the images of him and Daddy at the beach, playing on the floor, at the park, and with Mommy too.

Christian’s little friend, Mikey, also needed a quilt. Mikey’s Dad was serving with my son-in-law, and his mother was in Afghanistan. It worked for Mikey too. His grandmother wrote:


"Thank you so much for making a quilt for our grandson Michael. When his father left for Iraq, Michael was lost, but one month later his Mom left for Afghanistan - he was devastated...One night, I heard him talking upstairs in his bed. I listened at the door to a conversation between this precious 2 1/2 year old and his Mommy's and Daddy's pictures on the quilt...I know having this wonderful quilt has eased the separation and will make the reunion of this family so much better."

I made one for another child…and another…and a few kids later, the reality of how important these photo-transfer quilts are to the children of deployed soldiers, and to the parents who now felt relief that they would not be forgotten by their little ones at home. Many children could benefit from a photo-transfer quilt, but I could not do this alone.

The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) of Fort Bragg/Pope AFB loved the idea and welcomed the opportunity to help me found Operation Kid Comfort. The ASYMCA staff, Lynne Grates, Peggy Mikol, Deborah Graybeal, Deborah Hall and Melanie Spangler have all worked so hard to make Operation Kid Comfort a reality, while maintaining the many other programs that the 'Y' offers to the Fort Bragg and Pope AFB community.

As a non-profit with more than 150 years experience assisting America’s military and their families, I knew the ASYMCA as an organization that could see my plan to Comfort! Create! and Unite! to the end. Our mission: to provide FREE photo-transfer quilts and pillows to children of America's deployed service men and women, and to offer an opportunity for America to unite in support of military families.

A chance meeting with Dr. Kathleen Gruben at a weekend car rally, led me to her Georgia Southern advertising students. During the Fall 2003 semester, Georgia Southern University’s advertising class took on Operation Kid Comfort as their project. These remarkable young minds created marketing strategies and advertising campaigns; they developed plans for fundraising, and did all of this according to geographic region. Bases across the country now have a guide for establishing Operation Kid Comfort specific to their region. So much of our marketing process is derived from their exceptional talents.

The support Operation Kid Comfort has received has been nothing short of phenominal. In Fall, 2003, Karey Bresenhan, Quilts, Inc. President, the International Quilt Market and all its vendors pitched in and contributed more than $16,000 of fabric, batting, thread, and quilting necessities to get us started.

Local cleaners and laundries washed and pressed all the fabric.

Home Depot of Fayetteville, NC donated cabinets to store it in.

Anthony Battista of HP's Army Print Division found two printer/scanners for us. Anthony continues to support us with regular donations of ink to keep those photos printed.

Through the compassion and patriotism of so many other contributors and volunteers, and under the direction of the Armed Services YMCA, Operation Kid Comfort was formed.

In May, 2004, Operation Kid Comfort was awarded the Raytheon's Best New Program of the Year at a congressional luncheon on Capital Hill. Also that month, CNN American Morning highlighted the success of Operation Kid Comfort in their weekly Extra Effort Series.

Since then, Operation Kid Comfort has been the subject of many news and magazine articles: locally, nationally, and even internationally, from the Fayetteville Observer to the Army Times to Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. We have enjoyed the attention of publications and programming from all corners of America.

Just since January, 2005, more than eighty volunteers have donated more than 2,000 hours to make Operation Kid Comfort quilts and pillows. As of June, 2005 we had served more than 850 children through the Armed Services YMCA of Fort Bragg/Pope AFB, and expect that number to multiply by years end.

It was January 2002 when I made that first quilt for my grandson Christian. Now his Daddy prepares to leave again, and I will make a quilt for his little brother, Joshua, who will be eighteen months old when they are separated. I don't relish the need of another quilt for another grandson, but I am glad to know all of us at Operation Kid Comfort (volunteers, ASYMCA staff, and contributors) are choosing to Make A Difference for so many military families.

I'll make Joshua's quilt on October 22nd, Make A Difference Day 2005 and Operation Kid Comfort's second anniversary. On that day we will celebrate our success with our second annual Operation Kid Comfort Quilt-A-Thon (a great idea from our Georgia Southern students that proved so successful last year). We'll spend the day printing, and cutting, and sewing, and quilting and most of all...HAVING FUN as we celebrate this very important anniversary while MAKING A DIFFERENCE for the Fort Bragg community. Think about joining us...last year's event proved enjoyable, memorable and productive.

This is just one story…and there are many other OpKid stories to tell. If you have an OpKid story to share, whether it be how your child received his or her quilt, or a touching moment in an OpKid workshop, or just a funny anecdote that relates to your Operation Kid Comfort experience, please use the comment link here (the little envelope icon). And of course, we always welcome your words of support. We all look forward to hearing from you and reading about your instances of  "love, compassion and patriotism".

And please don't hesitate to contact us via email at operationkidcomfort@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Ann Flaherty

ASYMCA Volunteer and Proud Military Mom
___________________________________

Operation Kid Comfort is now operating at military installations across America from Fort Drum, NY to San Diego Naval Base, in Alaska, Hawaii and overseas. On September 11th, President Obama visited our Washington, D.C. group as part of the National Day of Service. Please include a link to donate at www.braggasymca.org 

 

Provided by M Theresa Brown of Art Career Experts

 

 

Dec
10
2010

The Value of Workshops by M Theresa Brown

Years ago, when you wanted to know something about how to create art, your choices were limited. Either you read a book or went to college. There was no YouTube, DVDs and if you had TV (seriously-as recent as 40 years ago, many people did not!) you may catch a show with the earliest of the TV artists, Jon Gnagy! In fact, even  a store that sold JUST art supplies was pretty rare.  Summer painting workshops  have been around for a century or more but unless one had access to that location or circle of artists, there was little available for the average artist. You simply did the best you could with what you had or you gave up and pursued something else!

Unless one was trained as an illustrator as many fine  artists through history were, the very basics of techniques (the old" how to do it" stuff) was usually missing in the art programs.  Theory and experimental techniques abound, but the average person who simply wants to learn to paint is often at a disadvantage.

But nowaday, so much has changed. There are art materials availabe for kids that many of us would have died for.  There are thousands of how to DVDs and books with amazing illustrations.  There are online art supply stores that have art tools available that once, only those in the loop knew about or could afford....but despite ALL of the available tools and equipment and online lessons, the very best way to learn is to DO it! It does you no good to collect all those art supplies and DVDs and not use them.

And that is where workshops come into play. Even the simplest of art workshops empower the participants with knowledge and skills they did not have before entering! More importantly, a workshop "makes you do it!" Very few people are self motivated enough to stick with a frustrating hobby until they learn it. But art workshops let you sample everything from techniques to mediums to styles to subject matter. And the participant is encouraged by both the instructor as well as the other artists.  It does not take long to complete a beautiful project with guidance!

Although my primary income is in the sales of my art and I derive much pleasure from happy clients and their reactions to the artwork,  more recently I've discovered the same thing in workshop participants.  The marketing workshops are more of an ephiphany for the artists who want to know how to sell their art wheras the technique driven mini-workshops are an ephiphany to the artist to whom a whole new world has just opened!

Maybe it's the feeling of “I did it myself” that makes their day!  Maybe it's the discovery of a talent they thought did not exist.  Even accomplished artists who step outside of their comfort zone into another realm of art, derive enjoyment from participating in a workshop.

Whether you teach an occasional art class, lesson or regular classes, realize that you have just given the gift of discovery to whoever you are teaching!  And especially with adult classes, you have opened up a future for many of them. A future of an endless opportunity to discover art in a thousand or more ways! And that surely beats sitting in front of the TV or computer!

So join a class, teach a class……when you have students who have paid to be there (including you) you have their full attention, enthusiasm and  gratitude and  doesn’t that make YOU feel good?!

 

Art Career Experts

 

 

Dec
8
2010

December Artist of the Month - Jean Hildebrant

 

ARTIST  STATEMENT

Jean Hildebrant
 
I was born in a small town in Oregon and had no access to art classes. I taught myself how to draw and use pastels and oil, by studying art books that I found in the local library. It was exciting to see how the Old Masters and current artists painted portraits and figures and to read how they worked in different mediums. I have always been captivated by portraits and figurative work. My favorite subject is the human soul. I desire to capture the essence and inner beauty of the human spirit through the use of light and color. I want my paintings to speak to the emotions and spirit of each person who views them.
As a portrait painter, I desire to not only capture a good likeness of the subject but I want to find the uniqueness of the individual and convey that to the viewer. My hope is that my portraits will become something that families will treasure and pass on to future generations.
 I paint realism with the hope of leaving an indelible impression.

 

RESUME

Exhibitions and Awards:
Jean has exhibited and won numerous awards in local and national shows. Among these accomplishments are the Richeson 75 Figure/Portrait Competition 2009 First Place; Pastel Journal Magazine, Pastel 100, First Place, Portrait  and Figure category2006;  the Pastel Society of America’s National Annual Exhibition, New York, NY ( B. & V. Giffuni Purchase Award); Pastel Society of America’s Master Pastelist and Award Winner Exhibition, Kentucky; Jack Richeson  Pastel Award of Excellence, 2008; Pastel Society of Arizona  2008 and 2009 Best of Show; Arizona Art Alliance 2009 Presidents Award for A Body of Work;
AAA 2010 Spring Show, First Place in Pastel; Pastel Society of Oregon National Annual Juried Show, Purchase Award and First Place Award;  Don Ruffin Memorial Exhibition, Phoenix, AZ receiving the Paradise Valley Community College Purchase Award and the Award of Merit.  and Arizona Artists Guild Juried Exhibitions receiving numerous awards. She is a charter member of the Pastel Society of Oregon and past Exhibition Chairman, a juried member of the Arizona Artists Guild, Arizona Pastel Artist’s Association , Arizona Art Alliance  and a member of the Fellowship of Christians in Portraiture as well as the Portrait Artist’s of Arizona. Her work is found in private, public and corporate collections.
 
Scholarships:

Jean also has received scholarships from the Scottsdale Artists School in 1992 for Phil Beck’s class Painting the Portrait in Oil and in 2005 for Clayton Beck III’s class Painting the Head in Oil.

Workshops:

Jean has studied with nationally known artists Albert Handell, Richard McKinley, Phil Beck, Bob Lemler and Clayton J. Beck III.

Jean Hildebrant Fine Art

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