Tuesday, August 6

Watercolor girl

I was inspired to draw and paint tonight. After work I read some of Lucy Knisley's comics and also found a new artist to admire (Kelly Murphy). I've been feeling motivated to draw this whole week thanks to "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, which I've been reading and loving. It has funny, straight-forward writing enhanced by beautiful comics and drawings by Ellen Forney. I send special thanks to Undercurrents Radio for providing me with my creative work music tonight. After doing this piece, I know I'm going to research how to do skin tones and highlights in watercolor; it's so different from oil painting.

Tuesday, March 12

From Ashland to Mae Sot

Heading to the Saturday Market  |  Photo by Tun Tun

When I attended a talk by Fred Stockwell last October at the Ashland Art Center, I didn’t know that in two months’ time, my boyfriend and I would be riding around in Fred’s pick-up truck at a garbage dump in Mae Sot, Thailand, where he has established a direct-aid organization, Eyes to Burma, along with the help of a small team of volunteers here in Ashland. 

Hanijo signs "I love you"  |  Photo by Nick Benedetti

During a whirlwind, three-and-a-half week trip to Southeast Asia, my boyfriend and I spent several days shadowing Fred. It was a life-changing experience. 

On the way to Mae Tao Clinic  |  Photo by Kara Q Lewis

It’s not easy to describe what it was like at the dump, where hundreds of Burmese refugees live and work. It was a shock to see such poverty. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the reality that a simple cut can get infected and put a person’s life and limb at risk. It was scary to think that any of the teens over 15 and the adults who weren't able to get a work ID card could be arrested, fined, and deported. 

At the clinic after Moe's surgery  |  Photo by Kara Q Lewis

I was overwhelmed by the amount of stress and work it takes to provide the people with very basic necessities that they couldn’t get without help.

First aid at the E2B community center  |  Photo by Nick Benedetti

Mostly, I was humbled by the connections we made with a few of the kids there. I was surprised by their playful antics and cheerful dispositions. They are smart, sweet, funny, regular kids.

Bouncy castle at the Saturday Market  |  Photo by Nick Benedetti

Sometimes, though, if you catch their eye when they’re having a quiet, introspective moment, you can sense their maturity. There’s a depth behind their eyes that makes them look like a world-weary adult. It’s understandable then why they play hard sometimes. It’s because they work hard and have probably been working hard since they were 7 or 8 years old.

Self-portrait  |  Photo by Samsamae

While we were at the dump Nick and I helped however we could. We took pictures and videos for eyestoburma.org. Nick put up a second shelf in the community center so Fred could organize his supply of medicines. We took a girl to the Mae Tao Clinic to have an infection in her leg cleaned out. And, I had fun sharing a Burmese/English phrasebook with several girls who read the Burmese words to me and had me repeat after them. We got a taste for what Fred said he’s learned from his 6 years at the dump: “The less I think about myself, the happier I am.”

Pisi leads Fred to Moe's house  |  Photo by Nick Benedetti

To learn more about Eyes to Burma visit their website and Like them on Facebook.

Thursday, November 15

Childhood memories

I said goodbye to my dollhouse today. It was sad. More so than I was expecting. I didn't cry, but when I left the recycled furniture store and saw my beautiful pink and white Victorian dollhouse sitting nonchalantly off to the side of the cash register, I felt like I was abandoning her. I'm not sure why I reacted like that. I wasn't using the dollhouse and it was taking up much-needed space in my parents' garage. It's not like I wanted to keep it, but it was still hard to let it go. It was made by someone special who gave it to me as a gift. Sadly, if I remember correctly, it was given to me just as my interest in dollhouses and miniature furniture, etc. was waning. And yet, I was attached to it. I guess I felt like I was saying goodbye to a part of my childhood. I wasn't passively getting rid of it, by storing it until I forget about it, like many of my childhood nicknacks; I was actively separating myself from it. That's a very difficult thing for me to do (as all of my keepsake clothes that I have from growing up can attest to). All I can hope for is that she'll go to a good home with a loving kid. Thank you, Carl, for making me such a special gift. Bon voyage my sweet dollhouse. Wishing you all the best.

Tuesday, July 26

Making cards happen (Part 3)

Cards are happening! I bought card stock and envelopes as well as new printer ink for my at-home inkjet. I'm going to see how many cards I can print using one set of black and tri-color inks to see how cost effective it is to print the cards myself.

I've printed three so far; one is my sample and the other two were delivered to people who each purchased a photograph of mine at a recent art show of my work and my boyfriend's work.

I thought more about how to donate the charity profits from the cards (see Part 2 of this series of posts for context), and my new idea is to choose one charity a month to donate to. Profits from that time period will go to the chosen organization. I'll keep you "posted" about the progress with this project.

Tuesday, June 28

Making cards happen (Part 2: Charity ideas)

For my cards, I think I want to have certain charities paired with certain cards. Here are some categories of photography subjects and some related charities that came to mind:

The Nature Conservancy
The Arbor Day Foundation
Tim DeChristopher Legal Defense Fund

Doctors Without Borders
FilmAid International
something to do with health care and something to do with education...

Artist residencies, like La Muse, the one I went to in 2007
There are also organizations like Artist Trust of Washington State, which help support artists.

Maybe I could donate to a scholarship fund as well...Hmm, I must do more research (and start earning money from my art). More to come...

Note: Here is the website for American Institute of Philanthrophy, a charity watchdog organization, the director of which was interviewed in a 60 Minutes piece about the Three Cups of Tea author and his organization. (Related link: "The best way to help children in Afghanistan and Pakistan")

Copyright © Kara Q. Lewis 2007-2013

"You can't force things. If you do you are lost." - Henri Cartier-Bresson (translated)
“It’s been a slow growth, but extremely fun for me,” he says. “For me, it’s about expanding and working from a place of joy. If I can enjoy what I do, and make new art that inspires me, everything will work out for the best.” - Mason Jennings
"We are nourished by studying the past, though we must also be fully involved with the moment." - Cartier-Bresson