My dear friend Hanna works for a wonderful non-profit called LOOM, International. In past years, when I was working for a large corporate company with a steady paycheck, I was able to contribute financially to several organizations and LOOM was aways at the top of my list.
LOOM International brings “people, resources, training and information together for the benefit of women and children at risk. They are committed to bring change by working with others in hope and interdependence.” LOOM’s strategy (as per their website) is to “develop tools to equip Local Experts serving vulnerable women and children in communities around the world. Empowered Local Experts bring sustainable change to their community by creating jobs, schools, feeding programs, medical clinics and more. These community based solutions are effective, sustainable and transformational.”
I LOVE this! The other huge thing that differentiates LOOM is the people they employ raise their own support which translates to them raising their own salary which means all donations goes directly to women and children at risk! Wow. A cause, mission and strategy that I can get behind 100%. 110%!! You get the idea.
When I attended a LOOM fund-raising event last May, the evening and presentation centered on the time the staff had spent in Tanzania. I was struck by the intensity of the stories shared and by the beauty of the faces and places presented in the photos. I have more time than money these days, so I offered up my artistic services and mentioned that I would love to do a drawing of this stark yet stunning landscape. And, yes, I specifically had a landscape in mind.
Hanna called me in September. LOOM wanted to create a special print to give to their donors for a Christmas gift and would I like to create a painting? They had chosen a handful of photos they liked for me to use as reference. Of course, I said yes! I told Hanna I could work on the project when I returned from Peru and deliver her the final art before the end of November.
The Saturday after I arrived back from South America, I cracked open the selection of photos LOOM had chosen. There were about 10 photos of desert landscapes with small figures in each. I swallowed nervously. This was not my typical subject matter. I work best with a main object that is close up; something I really dig into the details of and focus on. After all the drawings I have done, it’s easy for me to gauge how well I will be able to render a picture or scene. I knew right away this was going to be VERY challenging for me.
I tried for about 8 hours and started four different drawings. I was, sadly, quite accurate in my assessment. My drawings were not communicating anything in a manner that I was happy with. I texted Hanna and told her my quandary. I hardly ever paint people and perhaps I could just do a landscape? In her infinite graciousness, she told me not to worry. We decided to meet so that I could download of a much larger selection of photos from the trip. Hopefully I could find a landscape photo I would feel comfortable translating to paper.
I found this picture amongst the hundreds that Hanna provided. It immediately caught my eye and my heart. Even though it was a close-up portrait, I was compelled to paint it. At least I would try. It came to life very quickly and I was quite surprised and pleased with the result. I feel like it has energy and emotion in it. I feel like it gives a small glimpse into what LOOM is so passionate about: entering the lives of women in order to offer them hope.
This project has opened up some new possibilities for me. I am excited to try some more portraits. So, thank you LOOM. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to serve with my art and for challenging me to try something new in the process!
I pray that you and yours have a wonderful holiday and that the upcoming year opens up new possibilities for all of us! Merry Christmas!