Mar 8, 2011

Good Times upstairs at the Rhode Island Flower and Garden Show

Lots of goodies on display from OHF

Last week I posted about the beautiful gardens and artwork I saw during the RI Flower and Garden Show. But most of my time at the convention center was spent upstairs working with volunteers for Olivia's Heart Fund as we shared news about the charity and the Art Hearts project.

OHF Founder Julie Ostiguy 

Most of the time when I have a camera in hand, people tend to vanish on me. I got lucky and cornered Julie Ostiguy (founder of Olivia's Heart Fund) at the OHF table. See how lovely that photo came out? I don't know what the rest of you are afraid of! Anywhoo - we worked the tables together on Thursday, and things went swimmingly - especially once the Art Heart cards showed up. I think it was easier for our visitors to approach us when they could see the cards and have something to take home that was utilitarian.

coloring pages based on the Art Hearts

Also a popular item were the coloring pages. I traced four of the Art Hearts and made a fifth open heart for the kids to color in. Voila art gallery in North Kingstown donated art supplies and lessons as a prize for the coloring contest. The weekend was especially good for passing out the coloring pages, and we got so many submissions! Julie had a great idea, to eventually have a coloring book of all the Art Hearts when the project is complete.

video display and information about the project

Some of the late-night prep before the show was for the video display. We put together a brief slideshow about the Art Hearts project and included images of the hearts and families that we have photos of so far. This will continue to grow as the project continues. The Art Heart you can see in the monitor is Katelyn and Julia's. I was fortunate to meet Julia and her parents during the Flower Show when they came to see their heart in the American Heart Association garden downstairs. I've read their story and communicated with them, but it's not the same as meeting them in person. It was very emotional and moving to get a big hug from Melissa, and I got to talk to Julia (and got a high five) as well. They are a great family, and were very kind with their words about the project.

The beginnings of another Art Heart

While I was working at the OHF tables upstairs, I started researching some symbolism and imagery on my laptop to begin another Art Heart. Once I had a concept in mind, I blocked out some sketches at home. Saturday I brought my watercolors with me and set up by the OHF tables to get the underpainting done. Lately, I have been adding more detail into the centers of the Art Hearts, and using less pastel over them in the final painting. It depends on what creates the right mood for each piece. As you can see in the photo above, the irises are already getting pretty detailed.

Cardi's guys are getting their Zumba on

The weekend brought lots of activity to the 5th floor where we were located. Across from us the Zumba instructors from the Fitness Group got some music and dancing going. The Cardi's mascots came by the children's activity area and decided to give it a go as well. I would have captured a video of this, but they drew a crowd before I could get myself over there. Believe me,it was all kinds of entertaining!

me, painting away! Image by the Providence Journal/Connie Grosch

By Sunday, I had transferred watercolors to pastels on the Art Heart. A photographer from the Providence Journal came by and snapped this pic while I was working on the outer edges. You can see this and more images from the Flower Show here, on Projo. We made it to the top photography section for the day! I have since completed the latest heart, and will post more detail about the story and the process this week. Working like this at the event was really fun - people get involved and like to ask about the process. Some people just want to stand back and watch and not be obtrusive, but I really like to discuss the work, and hope that they come up and talk to me if they'd like to. A few times I met a child who was especially interested in what I was painting. I try to explain the way I paint and hope that they are encouraged to be artistic themselves.

All in all, it was a busy week, and a good one. Lots of creative work, and more people got to know a little about the efforts of Olivia's Heart Fund and it's mission. We sold a lot of the Art Heart cards, and got a feel for which pieces resonate with the public. I got to meet a heart family, and speak to people about why this project is important, and that made it a great event.

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