Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ronald McDonald House Project

As an artist, of course it is nice to get "paid" for creating your art.  After all, the "Starving Artist" label gets old after awhile.  However, there is definitely a feeling that money just can't buy and that is when you create artwork for the sheer enjoyment of others, without any money being exchanged.  I had the opportunity to do just that this past summer at the Ronald McDonald House. 

I had been contacted by an interior decorator in the spring and asked if I would be willing to do a total makeover of the family/TV room at the RMH in Spokane, WA.  Not only was it ready for a new look, but they were wanting to make a special wish come true from a darling little boy who had been in and out of the RMH over the past 8 years and had lost his battle to cancer in February.  Realizing how many children stay in this place, I knew this little guy must have made quite an impression on the staff if they wanted to do this in his memory.

Skyler had been an avid Sponge Bob fan and had expressed the need to change this room and make it have a Sponge Bob theme.  After meeting with the powers to be on several occasions, it was decided that we would showcase Sponge Bob, his pineapple house and his friend Patrick, along with many other creatures you would see in the ocean.

This room is where the children and their families spend many hours either watching TV, playing board games, read books, play video games, just relax and enjoy.  The theme of an underwater playground needed to not only excite the kids but also offer a calm and reassuring feeling.

The task of painting the entire room an ocean blue was the first thing that needed to be done.  Dana took on this huge task and it set the stage for all our characters.  We searched diver magazines, salt water fish books, coloring books, sea animal internet sites, all sorts of differant resources to come up with a host of suggestions for this project.  Once we had a pretty good idea of the layout of the room, it was a matter of getting these ideas on the walls.

I truly enjoy being an artist but one of the special advantages of networking with fellow artists is finding not only like minded people who enjoy spending hours allowing our creative juices to thrive but in the process you form some wonderful friendships.  I asked three very close and creative friends to give up their time and talent over the summer to help make this dream project a reality.  Without hesitation they said yes.  Two of these gals had already proved how they love to share their gifts because they had already traveled to Tijuana, Mexico with me several years ago and spent countless hours transforming 5 rooms for Baja Bible College.  I'll write a blog on that someday as that is QUITE a story in itself.

Gerri, Deb and Annie were instrumental and inspiring to work with on this project and as always, we feed off of each other, teach each other and appreciate each others individual talents.  I drove the 1 1/2 hours each way about 9 times over the summer to work on this room.  Throughout the entire project, we only came upon one hitch.  I had envisioned this underwater room with 3 dolphins and not just any dolphins.  The ones that I had seen had been air brushed and that offers a totally different look than what we can accomplish with our brushes, sponges and other tools of the trade.  I have proof that people are still very good hearted and will step in when asked as I called a total stranger who I had learned of from a flyer I had recently picked up at an art store.  George, the owner of Air Illustrated did not hesitate to pitch in and complete our vision with his 3 dolphins that he quickly air brushed.  As a side note, we were so impressed with the speed that he accomplished this task in that we have all taken his air brush class which is offers the last Wednesday of each month at Spokane Art Supply.  I highly recommend it.  

We wanted our room to also offer a challenge for the kids, something to keep them busy when they were not involved in a game or TV.  We needed to be very careful of using any plasters that could be scraped off and ingested so having a "feel" center was not an option.  We came up with 24 hidden objects that were painted around the room that they need to find.  Most of the objects are things that you would see in the ocean such as sea shells but we decided to add some hamburgers, after all, it is the Ronald McDonald House! 

Although everyone gets busy in their lives and we all have just 24 hours each day to enjoy as we wish, I would suggest that if you can give your time to a philanthropic project-DO IT.  The feeling you have knowing that your gift of talent from God is blessing others is priceless.

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