Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More paintings of Motherly Love (or grandmotherly)

This painting has been good luck to those who own it. I'll explain. 

Version 2 of Maternal Kiss was larger at 12 x 16.

 Liane, loved this painting but the original was already sold.
The first version on Maternal Kiss is 8 x 10.
So, she asked me to paint another version in a different size that would fit in just the right spot in her living room. The colors and composition are a bit different from the original painting "Maternal Kiss" but the essence and emotion are the same. When Liane came to pick up the finished painting she said that it was even more special because she just found out that she was going to be a grandmother for the first time. She was thrilled and so was I.
   The next day, I got a call from the woman who purchase the original version. "Can you keep a secret?" she said. "I just have to tell someone,  I just found out that I am going to be a grandmother".
    Isn't that an amazing coincidence?  Two different women from different parts of the country purchased this painting and both learned they were going to become grandmothers.
     In honor of those future grandmothers I am posting some of my more popular African mother and child paintings. I can't guarantee you will get good news too but I can promise you that you will be helping a child in need if you purchase a print. (Proceeds from each print sale go to Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center in Ghana, which strives to provide a free education to children who otherwise could not go to school.)

To see what else is available to to www.shop.paintingbrighterfutures.com

Monday, February 3, 2014

Project Update

You never can tell who is going to be touched by this project or inspired to help. Last week, one of my dear friends from college, Rhonda Childs Amoroso, offered to start collecting donations from the her community. Then yesterday, I got a call from my neighbor Lynda's friend Marge. I ran into Marge at a dinner party last weekend where we talked about my project. She was so moved by the needs of the children in Ghana that she took the initiative to call contacts she had at her local elementary school and they agreed to donate teaching materials. So, I decided to do this blog entry to summarize the progress of the project so far so that anyone Rhonda or Marge directs this way can easily learn about the project.

Shipment of Books and School Supplies Delivered

Last week Billa, (director of Future Leaders in Ghana) posted pictures of the children with the donations that I sent late last year. It was difficult to find a way to get them there. I literally struck up a conversation with anyone I saw who I thought might be from Africa to listen for a Ghanaian accent and asked them if they knew of a way to send boxes of books to Ghana.  It is funny but I am normally shy when it comes talking to strangers but when it comes to helping my kids I am very determined. Now, I have an avenue to ship large boxes of donations to Ghana twice a year in a shipping container with local Ghanaians.  
It was so wonderful to see the kids with the books. The UCC is getting better all the time and more people around the world are stepping up to help this wonderful cause. Thank you Waples Mill Elementary, Manassas City Public Schools and Eagle Scout Paul Burke for your generous donations.

Someone asked what the classrooms look like so I included this picture. 

Website and Online Store is Up and Working


I have been working hard and learning a lot while customizing and updating my online store, blog and web sites. I have chosen to use this stripe of Kente fabric to unify everything. The prints and paintings are selling well, with the mother child scenes being the most popular.   I have started doing custom orders. So, if you see a painting or subject that you like but would like it in a different size or color scheme, feel free to ask. 

Best Behaved Child Awards Given Out Weekly

When I first brought suitcases full of donations we realized that even though I had  brought a lot, there still would not be enough for every child to have something new. So, Billa thought it would be good incentive to let the best behaved children from each class choose something from the donation pile at the end of the week. The pile included used shoes, clothes, back packs and school supplies. Imagine telling our kids that if they were the best behaved child in their class they could have a used pair of shoes or a notebook with some other child's name blacked out. The poverty these children are living in is hard to fathom. They are thrilled to have something new, anything. They are not required to go to school. Many of their parents don't care whether or not they go, so anything that can be done to reward them for taking the initiate to learn and improve their situation in life is helpful.

The New Computer Lab is Helping the kids Learn Faster

I was able to send another lap top computer in the container and several more Leapsters. Billa says that the Leapsters have been very helpful when the kids have one on one sessions with volunteers. I remember the first time I was in Ghana. I sat with a little boy using a chalk tablet. What an improvement. 
But, this is a big help for kids to learn English and Reading independently since there are so few teachers for so many kids. 

This is a picture of the computer lab in an old shipping container.

The Land Fund is Growing

My number one goal has been to raise funds for Billa to buy the land for his own center and not have to pay rent anymore. The fund is growing but slower than I would like. So, this weekend when we had our annual Super Bowl party I decided to set up a little display about the project on my dining room table.
I am happy to say that all of the football pool winners chose to donate their winnings to the land fund. Thanks everyone! I also hung the paintings of Africa all over my house so my friends could see them. I have so many framed and ready to exhibit. I know it is time to get out of my comfort zone (painting in my studio) and get out there and start marketing for an exhibition or fundraiser. This is hard for me because it goes against my basic personality. Wish me luck and guts.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My kids are Awesome!

There are so many reasons why this goofy picture of my son at the Medina Market in Accra, Ghana, makes my smile. I can just imagine my daughter Alexandra saying "Hey Stephen, go stand over there so I can take a picture of that scene for Mom".  How did I  know that?  Because I have asked them to do that for me time and time again, photographing people over their shoulders, so that my subject remained unaware and natural.

Last year my daughter gave me a wonderful gift, all the photos she took during the six months she lived in Africa. She is an amazing photographer. I often go through her photos looking for inspiration. Yesterday, I was looking for one particular photo I had seen of a little girl at the market when I saw this photo of my son. Before I ever went to Ghana or even thought I would, we sent our 16 year old son Stephen to visit his 19 year old sister. Stephen and Alex had some real adventures together. As a mother who worries, I am glad they told me about them after they had returned safely back to their host family's home. 

I never thought I would ever go to Africa so I asked Alexandra to take some very specific photos for me to use in my paintings. This was no easy task. But, it ends up that many of the best pictures were taken on the day she went to the market with her little brother. I could see how well they worked as a team. He served as a distraction so she could take photos without causing a scene or getting anyone upset, which had happened to her before. 

Here is the finished painting. I had forgotten that Stephen was in the original photo that inspired this painting. Now, I know what the woman in the background is looking at my daughter taking her brother's picture. To purchase this painting or a print, go to www.shop.paintingbrighterfutures.com

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pictures of the books and supplies in Africa

Here are a few pictures of the books and school supplies with the children at Future Leaders UCC.  Enjoy.

This is the first time that there was a text book for every student in a class. With phonics books for every level the kids can now advance at their own pace.

Children in Ghana with their new supplies.

Children at  Waples Mill Elementary School with the donations they collected.

The new reading  library in Ghana. Many of the parents in this area can not read and write themselves. Their options for employment are very, very limited. Now that their children are learning to read and write the family has a much greater chance for a better life. 

The kids holding up samples of the donations. If you give me a donation I will make sure that it ends up in the hands of a child in need. It will not go to waste sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

Even if they had the money to buy these books, which would be an enormous amount to them,  there is no where around to buy them.

In this picture  the teacher in the back holds up a teacher's manual. Teachers are very hard to find, money to pay teachers is very hard to raise . Imagine the help it will be for a teacher with very little or no training a to have a book with prepared lessons for every day of the year.

The learning games have been especially helpful with the one on one sessions with volunteers.

The little structure to the right is a typical classroom. Without this special place where poor children can learn for free and get a meal each day,  they would most likely go hungry and be out on the street.

I am going to continue to collect for Future Leaders. With 170 children at the center and many more on the waiting list the need is still great. I am looking for learning games, lap top computers, books, clothes, shoes, school supplies, sewing machines and soccer balls. Please email me if you have anything to donate. adrienneartist@gmail.com.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The books have arrived

Shhhh, don't tell my family but this is all I really wanted for Christmas; to know that the donations I worked so hard to collect and ship have arrived in Africa and that Billa likes them. YAY!!!

Billa in loading the books in his van/trotroe/school bus.
I am so happy. I have been holding my breath, checking my messages daily, sometimes hourly and now to hear from Billa that he has gone through all 34 boxes and really thinks they will be helpful has made my day, my week, heck it's made my year!

These are some of the children who live at the UCC with some of the books. He will post more pictures when school reopens after the break.

Eagle Scout Paul Burke was able to collect several boxes of school supplies and back packs. 

And here they are at the port of Tema in Ghana. 

That is right, I can't think of a better way to end a great year. To know that you have made a difference, no matter how small, in the life of a child in need is a wonderful feeling. It inspires me to stay focuses and get working on my next goal.

The back pack Billa is holding came from the Waples Mill Elementary School collection.
So here it is, my next goal. I will be turning 50 soon and have I have decided that for my birthday (or sometime during my 50th year) I would like to fly to Ghana and give Billa the money he needs to buy the land for his dream children's center. 

Wish me luck, or better yet, buy a painting or make a donation.
My online store is up and running. www.shop.paintingbrighterfutures.com


Saturday, December 21, 2013


I can't wait for these little cuties to get their new books!

I have was hoping to do my next blog post with pictures of Billa and the books at the children's center. But anyone who has done business in Africa knows the word Patience. 

Here is an update.
There has been a circular stream of conversations about the shipment that go something like this...... 

Billa in Ghana and I in the US, converse by Facebook Message in English.
B-Have you heard anything about the books? 
A-Yes, the ship has arrived but I am waiting to hear when the container will be opened.
Daniel and I, in the US converse by text in English - (best way to communicate because I have trouble understanding his accent by phone)
A-Any news? 
D-We are going through customs now, there were a lot of shipments at the port ahead of us. We hope to open it on Thursday.
Daniel in the US and his brother Kwame in Kumasai talk  by phone in Twi
D, Can you call Billa and tell him when to meet you at the Port.
Kwame in Kumasi and Billa in Teshie talk by phone in Twi.
K on 12/8 - I am in Kumasi now and will call you when I get to Accra. 
K- on 12/12 Can you meet us at the port on Monday? 
K- on 12/16 Now it will be Thursday
K- on 12/19 Not today but Monday - I'll call you to confirm.

And Billa patiently waits. 
I am trying to be patient. I have found that patience and low expectations are attributes that many Americans are loosing as our lives become faster and more efficient. I always come home from Africa with lots of patience and appreciation. But the more I get settled back into American life, with so many things that people in other parts of the world only dream of like: turning on the tap and getting fresh water just the right temperature, pushing a button for immediate electricity, heat, air conditioning, internet, anything I need/want within seconds, the more I get used to it. 

The more I come to expect, the more my patience and appreciation starts to fade. Then, I need another trip to Africa for a booster shot and reality check. I have come to see appreciation and patience as secrets to happiness. After a trip, I patiently wait in line at the grocery store and marvel at the plethora of safe, clean food choices, I happily wash and fold laundry thinking how fortunate I am to have a washing machine, I sit in my comfortable car on a paved road with working traffic lights waiting in line behind a slow school bus, but I don't get annoyed. I think how fortunate I am to have all of these luxuries that are not available to my kids in Africa and how wonderful it is that all children in America, no matter how poor are going to school in a big safe bus, with a stop sign and crossing guards. I could go on and on. 

I shake my head when I hear people complain that these blessings we have received because we happen to be born in the right place at the right time, might change in some small way, or not be as convenient or "fair". It makes me sad for those who have everything one could need to be happy and they are not. I see that a lot.

Billa and his wife Phyllis, have a house full of orphans and needy children to feed and educate, when the power goes out for days or the internet is down for weeks, the water tank runs dry. But they expect these things to happen because they have and they will happen again. But there is an aura of patience and gratefulness about them. I feel grateful that I have been able to meet someone like him in my lifetime and blessed that I have an opportunity to help one of the true angels in this world. 
I will wait and hope to post pictures of the books in his hands on Monday. Keep your fingers crossed.

If you would like to help Billa, you can purchase a print or painting at www.shop.paintingbrighterfutures.com

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Setting Sail for Africa

They Are Off!!

The books and school supplies are on their way to Africa.

Daniel and his friends loaded this car full of books, then the car was driven on to the shipping container. Daniel will be using the car in Africa.

I had a very important job while the loading was going on. I got to hold precious little Hayden while his dad packed the boxes. Hayden's mom is Linda, the angel I met at Home Depot who has made this possible. Thank you Linda!!

There was a nice group of Ghanaian men helping to load the container. We chatted about Ghana and our favorite Ghanaian food. They were surprised to hear that my daughter knew how to pound Foofoo. I still haven't tried it.

I wish I was going on that ship to see my  little friends at Future Leaders UCC. Holding Hayden really made me miss them, Well, actually I missed them anyway. I am hoping to make a trip back in January. I will make sure to try Foofoo this time.

Bon Voyage!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this possible!