Tuesday, April 29, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred nineteen

Trying to get a little shading started.  Worked on D's brain more, well covering it up with his hair anyway (Devany and E would understand).  Fixed up E and D's lips and before I knew it, my little ones were waking from their naps.

I was thinking of all the mamas today that lost their precious babies as well, I was in the room with quite a few at the book signing for To Linger on Hot Coals in downtown Lancaster.  This was the place I was able to meet Violets mother, Devany for the first time in person.  Devany was one of the book contributors and I attended to listen to her poetry and support her.  It was held at Mulberry Art Studios and the women book contributors read their poetry.  It was very moving and a wonderful expression of feeling and grief.  There was a beautiful display of candles.  Each candle was lovingly marked with the name of a child very much missed and loved.  I was able to linger over them and say silent prayers for them and their families.  I stood near the table of strong women and watched as they signed books, gave hugs and quietly shared with other mothers.  It was there that I learned of the Sweet Pea Project.  The Sweet Pea Project was created by Stephanie Cole after the death of her daughter Madeline, as a way to honor her memory and reach out to other bereaved parents.  The Sweet Pea Project offers comfort, support and gentle guidance to families who have experienced the death of a baby.

I am so grateful there is a community of mamas out there to support other mamas during a time of grief, loss and sadness.  I imagine it could swallow you whole if you let it.  No one is immune to the loss of a child.

Ocean Beach Spirit Cleansing Ceremony for Houd

Update from Jen:

Today is a day for PEACE. I had an Ocean Beach Spirit Cleansing Ceremony for Houd (short for Houdini) The blue silk material contains the ashes of his dear soul. The saltwater symbolizes the purity of the being, feathers symbolize flying free and returning as the soul he wishes to be, the shells to symbolize the leaving of one body to find the next, and the driftwood a symbol of moving from one place to another. The sand is the medium that glass is made from and that the ash will become a living part of.

Glass is a material that is a unique one.  It's both a solid and a liquid at the same time.  Even in it's hard (bead) state, the molecules are always slowly in motion.  Which takes the inert ashes back into a moving state, which I feel keeps the souls happy and knowing they are cared for instead of left alone for eternity.



Excited for the next step!  I love seeing an artist at work and one that cares so deeply for our loved ones.  Jen truly is a unique person with beautiful handcrafted glass.

Read about the Houd's Send Off

See photos about cremation ash glass memorial bead creation here

Houds Send Off


I am so very excited to tell you alllllll about my friend Jen and her beautiful glass blowing skills!!  She will be making me a glass cremation memorial bead for my dreadlocks of none other than my dear friend Houd's ashes.  I obtained a small amount (less than a 1/4 teaspoonful) from his mother and shipped them off to Jen.  I will be posting her words and photos she provides me of her process.  I am so happy to be sharing all this with you and her shop, Pacific Northwest Glassblowing.

Months ago when I happened to see a post on Facebook about somebody elses memorial bead, I was immensely curious.  I was not quite sure I had ever heard of such a thing, nor did I know it was possible.  Well, why not?  So I inquired.

Ashes, double bagged and ready for send off

In Jen's words:

I'm blowing a cremation glass ash memorial dread bead in honor of this fallen life and in honor of his eternal soul finding peace. 

Read about the next step: Ocean Beach Spirit Cleansing Ceremony

Monday, April 28, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred eighteen

I decided to draw Violet when I saw a FaceBook status on Still Playing Schools page.  I was immediately hit with sadness for a child who would never grow up and a mother that lost a child.  I myself have not experienced the loss of a child and the sadness must be overwhelming to say the least.  I knew Violet would be one of my portraits.  After contacting her mother Devany and explaining what I would like to do, she challenged me.  She asked if there was any way to draw a picture of all three children together.  She explained that she did not have a photo of all three since her little boy D is a rainbow baby.

The best definition I have found describing a rainbow baby:
Babies born to families after the loss of a child are referred to as "Rainbow Babies." The idea is that the baby is like a rainbow after a storm. "Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

Correct me if I am wrong but that is a wonderful definition.  So I took on her challenge and she provided me with a beautiful picture of E (beautiful little lady on the right) and D (handsome little man on the left) and I used her existing photo of Violet, photoshopped V into the photo to suit everyone and shazaam!  I now have a "real" photo to draw from.  As some of you may know and some of you may not know, I am best at drawing when I have a photo to draw from, I do use a grid method in the beginning to ensure that all subjects are as accurate as possible.  Once I can no longer see the grid or I layout the drawing in entirety, then I draw with my eye.  There are times that I will turn the drawing and the photo upside down and draw in that manner.  I do that so I draw what my eye sees and not what my mind thinks it sees.  If that makes sense.

So this portrait is special in many ways.  The most important thing about this portrait is that it will give a family a special gift that no photographer can ever give them - a portrait of their three beautiful babies.  It feels so wonderful to use my talent to help others.  The original hand drawn portrait will be gifted to Devany and her family for just being so special, loving their babies, remembering Violet and reminding all of us that children are a blessing.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred seventeen

Getting everything laid out and a foundation started.  Such beautiful blessings.  Sometimes the most meaningful gift we can give others is a piece of ourselves.

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred sixteen

It's official, the LeDrew crew is next.  I get to draw all these beautiful children!  Everything fell into place for me to be able to draw this portrait.  Both older children cooperated with their mama to get me a photo that I could draw in their sister Violet for a sibling portrait.   Violet passed away due to a heart defect related to being diagnosed with a chromosome abnormality called Trisomy 13 after two and a half days of life.  Her mama blogs at Still Playing School, a blog about playing and learning activities for children.  That is where I met her.  I am so glad to be able to gift this mama a drawing of all her little hearts.

Friday, April 25, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred fifteen

Didn't get much time in, only about 40 minutes.  I am feeling that I should be drawing Violet with her brother and sister, not my Nan and Pap right now.  It is a pretty strong feeling.  I feel like this one can wait.  We will see what happens.  Every day Violet is in my thoughts.  I may need to disconnect from this portrait and put another before my own needs.  I know my Nan and Pap would understand and probably tell me to work on Violet first.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred thirteen

I have so many things I want to say about my Nan and Pap I don't know where to start.  My Nan was always cooking comfort food and my Pap was always working on a car or motorcycle in his garage.  I miss them so much and the saying is true, you don't know what you have until it is gone.  There is so many questions I have about their childhoods, favorite things, that I want to know.  I have so many memories of their house in Columbia, PA and their beach house in Oak Orchard, DE.  I fall in love with this picture every time I see it.  It is a really great photo of them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred twelve

I am so excited to start this portrait of my Nan and Pap.  I knew they would be a pair of souls that I would draw during my 356 days of drawing.  I did not know it would be so difficult to find a photo of the two of them together.  I looked through STACKS of photos and finally when I held this one, I felt all the happiness and love shining through.  As I held the photo, studied their faces and scenery I could feel this place was a happy place for my Nan and Pap.  I knew they had made happy memories here.  My mother thought the location of the photo was down at the beach near or at a motel called The Hawks Nest in Delaware.  A motel near Oak Orchard that made them fall in love with the area and later purchased a beach house that I spent long summers visiting.  I really wanted a better photo of their faces but this photo seemed to be the one I am supposed to draw.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beach Life Series ~ Chapter III: Living with strangers and employment

In one summer I lived with eight other humans and later that summer one other person and her dog.  All different personalities, from all over the United States and a wide range of ages.  The following summer I had just two roommates.  I started off working for one shop but ended up working for another by the end of the year.  Our stand was burnt to the ground at the end of the summer and that pushed us off to start traveling with the carnival during the fall months.  Never a dull moment.

Monday, April 14, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred four ~ Trees and Tents with Houd

The last pencil stroke has been made.  This is my dear friend Dustin or Houd (short for Houdini).  I knew when I started my 365 days of drawing that I would be drawing portraits of my dear departed friend and my family that has passed on.  His portrait started on day sixty-one.  I did not know at that time I would be incorporating the loved ones of my friends as well.  You can read more about the portraits ahead here.

A few weeks ago I was driving into the city to run an errand and as I was driving I came upon a man walking alongside the road.  He was wearing jeans, hat, long dark coat, had shoulder length hair and was wearing glasses.  After passing him and looking in my rear view mirror I nearly had a stroke.  My friend Houd!  I was sure of it.  Without thinking I immediately turned my car around and drove past him, after realizing clearly this was not Houd I felt a bit foolish.  My mind thought I saw him walking alongside the road, but my heart knew the truth.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day one hundred

I am so close to being finished, I can almost see him standing right in front of me.  I have some blending to do on his nose and a few more places to darken, but that is just about it.  I am so excited to present this to his mother.  I hope I made Houd proud.  I will get to take it to her in person and give her a giant hug.

I will be making prints and listing them for sale in my Etsy shop at $5 a piece + shipping and handling.  If you are reading this and know you want a print, give me a heads up so I can be sure to get enough made.

365 days of drawing ~ day ninety-nine *bonus

I still see a few things I want to darken and a few I want to lighten, but its almost complete.  I am very happy with it at this stage.  I am really looking forward to hanging a print on my wall. 

I am also uber excited about his upcoming journey to California.  I have less than a teaspoon full of his cremated remains that will be made into a glass bead I will wear in my dreadlocks.  When I first opened my shop on Etsy and joined the Etsy Team Deadhead Art Alliance, I met Jen.  She owns two Etsy shops Ocean Beach Glass and Pacific NW Glass.  She is the Deadhead Art Alliance Captain and runs our collective store front on Etsy.  Team members can donate their handmade items and the funds are used to pay for vending, events or help out a team member in need.  I saw Jen list a custom item with the words cremation, memorial, glass bead and immediately inquired.  Turns out she can make a glass bead with cremated remains!!  So we will be featuring the process, her shop and the bead coming soon!  The process will take a while, after she receives the ashes she will meditate, spend some time getting connected to him, prepare herself and put all the love, light, positive energy into the handmade masterpiece - all while letting his spirit guide her hands.  It is amazing and I am so blessed to know her.  I cannot wait to share all this with you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

365 days of drawing ~ day ninety-nine

Being gone for ten days, I see all the things that need to be done.  Darkening of shadows around the eyes, correction to the bottom lip and darkening of the background and hair.   I had a lot of fun while in Tennessee, my mind always wandered back to Dustin though.  I don't think I will be taking another ten day vacation from my drawing.  Next time I will remember to bring my sketch book and pencils. (both of which were a graduation gift from my high school art teacher)  With all this drawing I am doing I might have to finally replace my set, I have a small sentimental attachment to them.  My first real set of drawing pencils, they probably will go in my keepsake box.

While on vacation I was asked if I ever had any formal training.  I answered that, "why yes, my high school art teacher was also an artist."   An excellent artist, drew lots of surrealist art.   My senior year I took as many art classes as possible.  That's it folks, a little talent, a little determination, hard work and lessons from a high school art teacher.  Oh and practice, every little bit counts.  Rome wasn't built in a day.

Jack Daniels Distillery Tour with Houd

I have been away from drawing portraits for a week and a half, currently working on my friend Houds portrait.  This past week my little family traveled to Tennessee and while we were there we visited the Jack Daniels Distillery.  I knew Houd and Coyote would enjoy this trip so I brought them along......well, I brought along his action figures.

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