Doing for Others

Published by Amazon KDP in Paper and E-book.

In the early 70’s, my brother returned from Vietnam. He is five years younger than me, and he was a young kid when he left to be in the Air Force as a Demolition Expert. He spent most of his service time out near the end of the runways, where the planes would come in, sometimes with bombs they did not drop, and one of his jobs was to neutralize and unload them until they were needed again.

When we had the first family reunion after he returned, I could hardly recognize him. He is now considered 100% disabled, though when he returned he was considered 40%. He had a TBI and had multiple surgeries to try to put in a plate, but none of them worked and they made him pass out repeatedly. He also had a spinal surgery that was blotched and so he could not walk well at all, and spent a lot of time sleeping because of pain. And then he had PTSD like so many others, his from having to shoot tiny children who came onto the runway, wired with bombs. It is difficult to imagine how people become so brainwashed or terrorized that they could ever harm their own children and babies.

Seeing him again like that when he had still been a big kid in his mind and spirit when he left, full of mischief and the joy of being young was almost too much. It gave me a heart to work with physically, developmentally and emotionally challenged children and adults, something I have done for the rest of my life.

I first began to work with special needs children in the Torrance and Redondo Beach school districts in California as a substitute, and I worked every single day and absolutely loved it. Many if not most of my children were preschoolers, kinders and middle school aged then, and had multiple challenges. I did this work throughout Southern California for more than 15 years, always as a substitute Paraeducator, Aide, or Teacher (uncertified). I think over the many years, I learned more from my children than they did from me, though I was always an innovator with the ways I did things.

I do not believe that special needs children who are likely to end up living at home or in a group home or other special facility need to be tormented by having them do repetitive work unless they really show an inclination to like that, and yes, some of them are very good and very happy and excellent workers doing repetitive work. My belief is that every child should be given an opportunity to do something that makes them happy, even if it is making beaded necklaces or weaving or whatever else they enjoy.

The book above is the cover of a book by Barbara Williamson and me. Her name, though not on the front of the book, is on the back with the other authors. Besides telling her own story, she made major contributions in the way of decision making and adding creative input through the journey of the creation of the book. Just ahead of the time I was working as a substitute, I decided to start a nonprofit to assist physically challenged fiber artists (art quilters, though many of them work in many mediums besides quilts). Because I too was involved with art quilting, I realized how difficult and expensive it was for them to enter juried shows, often to not get accepted after paying an entry fee that most could little afford. So I wanted to find venues that gave them a lot of excellent exposure and at the same time wanted to teach them professional development. Barbara Williamson and I became excellent friends and she became the Secretary of the nonprofit. We ran it successfully with just her caregiver, Rob as our treasurer, and no money in the kitty, which made running the nonprofit very simple.

The first exhibit we ran was called My World in Black and White, and we had s121 participants from various countries and the United States. The exhibit had some 10 live venues in one year (what we call traveling venues) and the exhibit museums, galleries and quilt shows were only too glad to help us send all the quilts as a group show for free. I only had to get the quilts to the first venue, and from then on, everything went from one venue to the next seamlessly. At the end of the last venue, the quilts were returned to me and I was able to ship them all back home to the ladies. If the venue was local, I was there to help hang the quilts and take care of other chores and greet the visitors as needed.

We ran the nonprofit for some ten more years, with back to back exhibits the entire time, and we did a lot of things besides that, helping after provide school projects and materials for the children of migrant workers, providing donated used sewing machines for other ladies who could not afford to get one on their own, donating quilting materials to the American Indian ladies on Pine Ridge and other things. During this time, Barbara grew her own art and developed her fiber arts as a profession. She is successful in everything she does now even though she is confined to a wheelchair.

We have changed our focus now as we are both older. Barbara lived in Paradise, CA, where the entire town burned down November 2018, causing her to lose basically everything. She has started life all over again and is busy settling into another home in a different city and working on her continuing career. As for me, I am studying a fantastic correspondence and event class called The Silent Eye Mystery School led by Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent and Stuart France. I still tutor special needs children and adults as well as ESL adults, and I will likely be a volunteer in some capacity the remainder of my life. I am currently a volunteer court-appointed volunteer advocate for CASA (a nonprofit located through the U.S.) for foster children. So life is never dull and when not doing these things I am working on more books and caregiving for my significant other, Richard, taking care of my garden and our six chihuahuas, a cat, two huge goldfish and two alien catfish. I am 77 now and intend to stay busy for whatever time is left. Although I have very little in the way of material goods, I have been immensely rich in life experiences and lifelong friends, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Dancing Man Collaboration

I supplied his essence.

Years ago, I had something hanging on my fence called the “Living Art Basket.” When I would go walking down by the shore in San Pedro, California, or in the park along the edge above the shore, or wherever I decided was a good place to walk each day, I would find treasures that would come home with me. Once home, I would add the treasure or treasures to the Living Art Basket, and then spend time enjoying it as I rearranged it until it looked like something magical. The treasures could be exotic looking pieces of paper, neatseeds (seeds I did not know the name of), pieces of wood, broken china pieces, shells, or anything that captured my fancy.

One day I encountered this wild piece of wood, well washed and worn by the ocean tides, and I immediately named it “Dancing Man.” It did not look anything like it does here except for the head area, and that was not decorated. It was named because one piece stood out on the right side, looking like a man kicking up his heel and enjoying dancing. He moved into the Living Art Basket and stayed there for a long time. Then one day some friends and I decided to do a collaborative project where we would take the piece we got and turn it into something else. Each month we would switch and whoever got the piece next would add his or her part of it until we got them all finished over time. I had a lot of really cool projects to work on too from the others, and honestly I wish I could remember them better but I don’t remember if I have photos of them or not. We each kept a notebook of what we added, and what we felt when we were creating it. I think there was a photo too.

When I got Dancing Man back, I could hardly believe his transformation. What a magical character, and so full of life. He really did get to become a dancing man, complete with his rainbow colored pants, his soft vest and the face all done up with yarn and beads, and copper hair. He had decorations on his vest and his beaded necklace, along with the wonderful bells on his pants, and best of all, check out the wonderful slippers.

I have him to this day. He was photographed against a pieced vest made and given to me by a friend who has since passed on. Isn’t it fun to see what we can create from the things we find? I no longer have that Living Art Basket, but I have plenty of found art everywhere in my home and in the yard that will eventually visit these posts. It’s funny how when we work on something that we think of as art, we are transformed by what we are transforming.

Art for Children

Slice Quilt by Cut-Loose Quilters for new Orange Children’s Library, Orange, CA.

Years ago I belonged to a small private quilt group in Orange, CA – Cut-Loose Quilters, begun by Jamie Fingal, a renowned art quilter for many years. We made a lot of exciting projects and did a lot of really fun and unique things, but this was one of my all-time favorites. This is called a slice quilt which means that each of us participated in making one of the vertical panels, and on the side panels, we each made a horizontal panel.

The quilt was designed on paper by our fearless leader with the help of one of our other gals, and then the panels were cut and each of us got one. Mine was the yellow one, and we each got to choose our colors for our panels and any lettering on our panels. The quilt was made as a donation for the new Children’s Library and the City of Orange gave us a very nice thank you talk and a plaque to remember our gift. Parts of the quilt were “sold” to raise money to buy more books, though the quilt still hangs in the library to this day. In 2018, we had a 10-year reunion at the site, and it was wonderful to remember just how much fun we had and how good we all felt about creating something that would be enjoyed by children for many years.

I have since made other cloth projects for my classrooms too, but never any as much fun as this. Here is a photo of all of us ladies who made the quilt.

Cut-loose Quilters from left: Terry, Joanell, Yours Truly, Tracy, Jamie Fingal (fearless leader), Cindy, Vicky, and Peggy

I will always remember so many of the wonderful adventures we had in this group. There are some wonderfully talented ladies among us, and I feel very honored that they included me. Thank you forever, Jamie and ladies.

Accidental Art

 

Just what IS accidental art?  Doesn’t everyone who paints or does mixed media or art quilts or other art forms have to plan everything out ahead? How can it be art if it is not “designed?”

Have you ever watched a child creating art?  Children don’t plan their art.  They just start making lines and marks and coloring all over the page and generally using their full imagination.  There is a freedom and spontaneity that you cannot help but enjoy, even if you are a professional artist or person who doesn’t care for art.  It reminds you of some part of yourself that many people lose as we grow older and have to deal with the everyday issues of life.

This is my favorite form of art.  All of these pieces were created in a matter of minutes, often pulling scraps from my friend Jamie Fingal’s fabric scrap can or my own, and using a glue stick or pins initially to put down whatever pieces I found.  Honestly, none of these are planned.  They just came to be born as I allowed myself to go into my childlife, just playing and having fun.  They are all in various stages as I was making them. The flowers with the frog were from my boob prints, and so much fun to play with.  I don’t think any of these took me longer than 15 – 20 minutes to create in whatever forms they are here. There is no attempt to “match” anything, to be precise, and even the stitching that comes later on to finish them is just wherever my hand feels like guiding the machine.  I don’t need to put colors in the “right places,” or worry about whether it looks like it is “supposed to look.” The striped “cat” below was just a scrap of fabric I found in exactly the shape it was.  We used to give little blocks like this to friends who perhaps hurt themselves in a fall, or maybe had surgery.  They just become something as we go along, but there is no thought given to trying to create any particular thing.

Tiger Kittykit kat and the catepillar 1 (2016_09_03 07_58_44 UTC)Annies boob quilt for autism charity - My garden of Earthly Delights

 

19995 (2016_10_30 18_27_53 UTC)

Annie's 15-minute bird 2 better (2016_09_03 07_58_44 UTC)

How to Create an Outdoor Living Art Gallery

Annes Garden 23Annes Garden 20Annie's Art Fence in backAnnes Garden 16An ordinary garden can easily become an outdoor art gallery, and there are many ways to do it.  You can paint your art, or have the neighborhood children paint it on your fence, or have some of your best friends have an art party where you all paint parts of the overall art project that you agree on.

It is just this simple, and as for cost, thrift stores are great places to find unknown artists works of arts.  Don’t hesitate to look at art from trash finds.  You may find some of the best art you can imagine.  And don’t worry about it being outside; my art has been though rain, snow, sunshine, and it was still standing when I moved. Also, this whole fence was recycled from Craigslist.org in my area.  The fellows that brought it to me installed it for me and did part of the painting of the wood.  I did the rest later on.Annes GardenAnnes Garden 5

The more art and the more variety you provide, the better it will be.  So here is my former outdoor art gallery.

Annes Garden 7Annes Garden 12

Art Exhibit – Part II

So now you have seen Part I, and I want to let you know that I am quite prolific with speaking what is in my heart and the compass of my soul.  So Part II will show you some more things I have created, and you might question their designation as “art.”  I want you to know that as an artist, I define what is MY art and what it will chose to be at any given time in my life according to how I am envisioning life at that particular time.  I like the freedom to celebrate life in the many ways I choose to celebrate it.  When I turned 65, I decided to do something different for my special day.  I had put on some African music which I liked very much, and I was thinking of how the people paint their bodies to signify something that is very meaningful to them, so I got out some black cloth, and being all alone, stripped and painted my breasts white.  I pressed them to the cloth.  We know ourselves in one way, or perhaps two, but there are things and ways of ourselves that we have never observed.  So when I looked at the cloth I had created, I was, to say the least, surprised, for whoever would ever know that this was what a breast looked like on cloth.  Here are a couple of pieces that came from this wonderful experiment in which I learned to see myself in a whole new way.  This process never ends, for there is always something new to learn, and as we change over the many years, so do our bodies and minds.  Each part becomes a special art exhibit all of its own.

Boobalala

Boobalala by Anne Copeland – Paint and Fiber

 

Annies boob quilt for autism charity - My garden of Earthly Delights

My Garden of Earthly Delights” by Anne – Paint and Fiber

This quilt is about 18″ x 20″ and it features the breast prints in multicolors, which was a lot more fun and challenging than just doing white.  And to think, I still have more body parts to color and experiment with.  Who knows what this will ultimately lead to.  I am certainly not the first person to experiment with painting body parts, but I did this my way and without any lessons either.  The frog is painted separately.

Oh, and this was a charity quilt I decided to make for Art for Autism, since I have been very involved for many years with autistic and other special needs children. For those of you who might recoil in horror, there is nothing ugly or wierd about our breasts.  I fed all my children with mine, lived through breast cancer, and now that I have passed three quarters of a life (age 77), I am glad to be able to still have those breasts.  For me, they are no different than having teeth, hair, armpits, or feet or a backside. Does a tree hide its branches in shame?

So this is Art Exhibit Part II.  We will look at some other ideas in different “exhibits” I get to curate and write about.  It’s my show.  See you at the next one.

Art Exhibit – Part I

I would love it if each of you who follows this blog posts something about something you absolutely LOVE to do, be it making a good pot of spaghetti, painting something that means something to you, or whatever brings Edison in all his brightness he created for us into your heart.  I am going to share some of mine here.  I am NOT a professional artist in the sense of having a degree of art, and have had very little professional training of any kind.  But what I DO know is what I like, and what speaks to my heart.  I love fiber art, or art quilts and others too, but I do the art quilts.  I love anything unique, and I love things made from nature or from recycled things.  And I love urban art and also what I call interactive art.  This is art that causes the viewer to need to interact with the art in some manner to perhaps try to figure it out or its message to viewers.  And I love to put it everywhere – not just in the house or an exhibit or publication, but anywhere my mind decides would be fun to have some art.  So if you are expecting some really polished stuff, you probably should go to a different place.  This is stuff that comes from the center of who I am.

Annies Wild Car 2011 Drivers sideAnnie's Wild Car Back 2011Annies Wild Car Top 2011Annies Wild Car Front 2011Anne's Wild Car Passenger side