Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Collecting Computers for Children

I am always asking Billa, the Founder of Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center in Ghana if there is anything I can get for him. There is no Target or Office Depot where he can run out and buy school supplies even if he had the money. The school is funded by donations. I felt so bad when I was there and saw the tattered notebooks that have been used over and over again, the broken and cracked chalk tablets from another century and the irrelevant flash cards "I is for Igloo". So, Billa asked if I could find some computers so he could set up a computer center. He never asks for anything and I was excited to help. That is a fabulous idea! It would be so much easier for the kids to learn on fun, interactive learning programs just like my children did. All I had to do was post my request on Facebook and the next day I had a wonderful laptop donated by fellow Oakton, Virginai resident,  Barbare Hippe and promises for more.  So, I am asking everyone in the DC area to clean out their closets and basements and contact me to pick up your old, working computer, laptop, learning center or learning program. I hope to hand deliver and set up the computers, (I miss the kids) then post pictures so you can see you donation being used by a grateful child. Contact me at adrienneartist@gmail.com. 

Thanks!     Adrienne Kralick

This is the first painting I sold of one of the children at Future Leaders. Prints are available for $50 and proceeds go to the center.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Market Scene

In a letter to his wife, Claude  Monet wrote "Anyone who thinks a painting is finished is arrogant."  Leonardo DaVinci is credited with the statement "No painting is ever finished just abandoned." It is not uncommon for me to take a painting off the wall years after I have finished it and rework it because of a new technique I have learned or a style I am embrassing. I need to listen to the voice in my head of my former teaher Rob Liberace telling me not to keep reworking old paintings but just to do it better or different next time. What I often tell my students is that when you look at a painting and say "Hmmm what else should I do? The answer is Nothing" It is finished. So , I am going to listen to myself and declare this painting Finished!

This is a large painting, 24 x 40, of the Medina Market in Accra, the capitol of Ghana. The amazing thing is that I didn't edit a thing. This is just one tiny little slice of one tiny section of a market that goes on and on for blocks and blocks. After you have been there many times you can find order to the chaos but the first time it is overwhelming. I only wish the people there understood why I wanted to take pictures and that I found them captivating and wanted to use these photos to give back to their community. Then we wouldn't have to take the photos so secretly.

For those art purists who say they never paint from photos, only from life. I say, painting from these photos is the only way to capture their real, natural, unposed life.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Paintings of Motherly Love

The first thing this morning I was happy to see a message from a woman who was interested in this painting of a woman carrying her baby on her back with a huge bag of fabrics on her head. I then realized that I only had one example of my African paintings on the blog. So I thought I would post a few of my paintings of African mothers and children.

The proceeds from the sale of these paintings go to Future Leaders UCC. Gicle prints are available when the original paintings are sold. These prices start lower than my normal prices because I want to sell a lot of paintings quickly to help Billa buy the land for his new school. It is hard to imagine that every child can't get an education. Billa is an angel for dedicating his life to help.

original Oil SOLD
limited edition prints available


Before I ever went to Ghana or even knew I would do this project, I asked my daughter, Alexandra to go out and photograph mothers and babies for me to paint.  I have loved paintings of mothers and children since I became a fan of Mary Cassatt as a teenage art student in Atlanta, Georgia.

This painting is from one of Alexandra's photos. I gave her a Canon EOS, just like mine for Christmas before she left for Africa. I am so glad I did, especially when my EOS died after my long  photo session at the school. Alex has become an amazing photographer.

That is all I have time to post tonight. I have so many paintings in various stages of completion......more to come.

Monday, March 18, 2013

One Child's Trash is Another Child's Treasure

Barely worn sandals, quickly out grown sneakers, a holiday dress worn once: what we carelessly discard can be of great value to a child who has so little. 

The children aof Future Leader's Underpivileged Children's Center waving to my friends back in America. I had just bought some candy for the kids from the woman in the photo. She sells items from a scrap wood structure in front of the center.

This morning as I was leaving for my dental check up I decided to grab a picture of "my kids" in Ghana to show my dentist, I had an idea up my sleeve. I know they are not literally "my kids" but with my own children Alexandra and Stephen practically grown and on their own, I still have more love and mothering to give so the kids at Future Leaderes are my chosen beneficiaries. Like any good mother, I am concerned about my kids dental health. Knowing that many of the poor children in Ghana have never even seen a toothbrush, I asked Dr. St. Louis if he had any to donate. I not only left his office with a box of toothbrushes and toothpaste for the kids but with promises of future clothing and shoe donations from the receptionist and hygenist too. It is heartwarming to see how willing people are to help when they hear about truely needy children.

So, after the dentist, I hit the gym. I got on the eliptical machine, set the program and picked up my phone to check messages. There, to my surprise was a "Hi" from Billa in Africa! I was used to waiting weeks for him to reply to emails because of the constant power outages and internet failures he has to live with and now there I was, chatting with him real time at the gym! Across an ocean which was a world apart, my smartphone in a fitness center in snowy Virginia to his old computer in an open air school in dusty Ghana. ......."Yes, they could use the toothbrushes." (Note to self: contact more dentists for donations)..."Yes, they could always use more clothes and shoes so should keep collecting." ( Note to self; Get the word out that I am still taking donations.)

So here it goes, I am getting the word out by blog that I am collecting new and gently used children's clothes, shoes and backpacks for the children at Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center in Ghana. Call or email me and I will be happy to come and pick them up. Summer clothes are best, it is Africa. Here are some pictures from one segment of my last donation trip.

When my friend Ingrid Singer saw this picture that I took of her daughter's old back pack in the hands grateful Abu, she decided to spread the word to her daughter's third grade class.
I was blown away to come home and find all of these donations from Mrs. McNeill's class at Waples Mill school. From elemenatry school kids in America to elementary age  kids in Africa, how sweet.
My son Stephen and his girlfriend Shannon helped me sort the donations by age and category; shoes, backpacks, girls clothes, boys clothes etc.
I brought 6 huge bags of donations to the UCC but it is never enough for the growing group of needy kids. There are over 150 kids there now.
 The unpacked bags filled Billa's office.
Little Alfred was one of the first to get new clothes and shoes because of his good behavior at school. 

The children made a sign to thank Mrs McNeil's 3rd grade class at Waples Mill Elemantary School in Oakton, Virginia. I tried to have a sample of each type of donation in the picture. After the photo was taken they turned the goods back in and had to wait for their end of term party where items were given out one at a time in a very orderly fashion. You can see more pictures on the Future Leaders Facebook page. The kids were so excited and all agreed to come to school and work hard in order to receive a reward of a pair of shoes, a backpack or a new item of clothing for their hard work. I was very impressed with how much their reading and English had improved since my last visit. I can't wait to go back and see how they have grown.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Akwaaba - Welcome to my blog

How my project began............

In May of 2012, I traveled to Africa to visit my daughter, Alexandra, who was studying abroad at the University of Ghana. I was anxious to see her life and to visit Future Leaders Underprivileged Children's Center where she volunteered weekly.

Alexandra in her neighborhood in Accra, Ghana.

By following Alexandra's blog Taking my Education to Africa I fell in love with the beautiful smiling faces of the children at the center. I wanted to help these children in any way could. The center's mission is to end the cycle of poverty by educating children living in the worst of it. These children's families live below the International poverty level of $1 a day and they can not even afford the minimal fees needed to could attend public schools. At the Underprivileged Children's Center, UCC the kids are taught basic math, reading and writing until funds can be raised for them to continue on to public school.

Some of the beautiful children at Future Leaders.

While in Ghana, Alexandra and I visited Future Leaders and I met with Billa Mamud, it's founder and director. We discussed his needs and how I could help. With his rent steadily increasing, he wanted to buy the land and to build a permanent center where he could provide free quality education, meals, and healthcare to needy children and housing for orphans. I decided to help Billa raise this money. But how could do that? I was just an artist, teaching and painting in Northern Virginia just outside Washington, DC.

Billa and I discuss the project in a classroom.

I decided to use my artistic skills and connections in my community and beyond to help. I would paint the beautiful people and scenes that inspired me in Africa and sell these paintings to raise the money to buy the land for Future Leaders UCC. My project has just begun but has already given me a great sense of purpose and joy. I am doing what I love and using it to help others. It doesn't get any better than that.

During recess my daughter and I sat under a shady tree to have a cool drink. Within seconds our arms and laps were full of loving children just wanting to be near us. I had never met such an affectionate group of kids before.

One of my paintings inspired by a mother and child I saw at the market. The original is sold but I have signed prints available for $50. Proceeds from the sale go to the UCC land purchase fund.