An art project in honor of my dad

I just found out today that my proposal for a project I had submitted about a month ago won. It’s so far outside my comfort zone and way more triggering emotionally for me than I would have imagined.

If you follow my blog or know me, you know that I lost my dad to throat cancer in June. He was diagnosed 7 years ago and went into remission. They said after 5 years he would never get it again. Then this past April it came back with a vengeance with no recourse. He passed June 7th.

The first time he was going through treatment, my parents stayed with me in KC. My dad (who was actually my step-dad but the only dad I’ve known) went through a lot and we became close during this time. I would listen to him talk about how much he hated his cancer mask. It’s a mask shaped to a patients face specifically. It’s buttoned over the face and shoulders while receiving radiation so they can’t move at all. He hated everything about it. He said it made him feel clausterphobic.

After he was released and given the good news that the cancer was gone, I came across a project from the HNC Living Foundation in Kansas City (Head and Neck Cancer). They commission artists to create a piece of artwork using the masks and then have an exhibit as a fundraiser. I had discussed it with him and he had agreed it was a great use of the masks. Life got in the way and I never applied.

About a month ago, I ran across the call again. I decided to sit down and write a proposal. It just flowed out of me along with tears. I took everything that mask represented to me and him….fear, anger, sadness, resurrection, healing, transformation, and death…and wrote a proposal. The biggest challenge I face is it’s not a painting. I will be sculpting which I’ve never done before (except for creating Halloween costumes for my son).

I found out today I won. My heart was instantly filled with excitement and joy, and then the tears started to fall. I know this will be a hard project for me; probably more emotionally than technically challenging. I look forward to it. I look forward to pouring my heart into this in honor of my dad. I look forward to dealing with the emotions as they surface, to letting the tears flow, and to figuring out how to make my idea a reality.

I won’t go into the entire proposal, but there are many layers to my piece. The mask will become a cocoon representing transformation. Inside will be a person screaming, representing anger and fear. Butterflies will be flying out representing hope and freedom.

I welcome this process. I look forward to cutting up this mask. I’m not exactly sure how I will create it yet, but I will let creativity flow through me just like it did for the proposal. I will keep you posted as I go through the process and feel my way through it.

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Sharing some inspiration

I have a ton of things going on in my life right now and I feel like I’m running at 100 mph. When the opportunity to go to Iceland presented itself, I jumped at it. (Can you say bucket list trip)! I have never been in a place like this.

It was the perfect amount of adventure, time away, and inspiration I needed. I have a million ideas for new paintings, but wanted to share a few pictures from my trip that I found inspirational.

Plan to see new paintings soon!

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Getting ready for the Irish Festival

I didn’t apply for any art fairs except two this year. With my crazy schedule, I really had to prioritize my time.

Both art fairs that I applied to, the Irish Fest and the Overland Park Fall Festival, I was accepted into.

I’m currently creating new work and exploring all my new ideas for the Irish Festival coming up. If you’re in the Kansas City area over Labor Day weekend, come by and see me! I had so much fun at this festival last year I had to do it again.

Great art, live Irish music, and cold beverages, oh, and getting to see me! I can’t think of a much better time! Hope to see you there!

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The reason I disappeared

Some of you may have noticed my FB page, my website, and myself in general went quiet. I’m still processing through it all, but I feel myself finally starting to come up for air and thought I would share the reason why. This is an intensely personal post and is probably a bit emotional. I’m just sharing that in case you don’t want to continue to read.

My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer in April after being rushed to the hospital for an aneurism. He had throat cancer 7 years ago and has been in remission since. The doctors told us statistically after 5 years that the cancer wouldn’t come back. They were wrong.

The throat cancer not only came back but the tumor began growing into his facial arteries causing massive bleeds. They sent us home with no hope and told us that it was a matter of time before his carotid artery (the one that feeds the brain) burst.

I have so many thoughts on this and it’s hard to even write through the tears flowing down my cheeks. It was literally the hardest 11 weeks of my life. He was a walking talking dead man. I sat with him every day I could and drank beer. He could no longer eat and up until the last 2 weeks he would still drink beer, so that’s what we did.

We were able to have some good talks, and I asked him if there was anything he had on his bucket list that we could go do. He said was lucky in the fact that he has pretty much done everything he’s wanted to do. I’ve thought a lot about that since and how fortunate he was to get to say that. Most people never can.

I tried many times during this time to pick up a paint brush, but nothing came out. I wanted to paint the pain and unfairness of it all away but I couldn’t.

I am so very grateful that I was able to hold his hand when he took his last breath. I’m still struggling with so much loss, anger that he was only 65, anger that he suffered so much, and the helplessness of it all. But last night, I picked up the paint brush for the first time in months. I was alone in my hotel room and I pulled it out. It wasn’t easy at first. It was like pushing through a barrier. But then it slowly started to come back. It started to flow again.

I’m grateful for this. I’m grateful that I have this connection to the Creative again. That maybe through it I can begin to heal my heart and mind and soul. The last thing I was able to create before he got really sick was the yantra of the fist. It’s almost a diary entry. My thoughts, my feelings, my anger, my sadness, all made into a fist or rage.

I have so many loyal followers of my art. I just felt the need to share my journey and let you know that I am starting to resurface. I’m not sure where my work will go from here. I have a lot of thoughts still and so I’ll sit with them. And I’ll create.

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You can see my work at the Phoenix Gallery

One of my favorite towns in the US is Lawrence, KS. It’s one of those places that has always just felt like home. It has an open minded culture and no one looks at me strange for wearing my paint pants out in public. You will see all types of people intermingling, and it just has a welcoming feel.

When I sold my very first painting, it was in Lawrence. I lived in small town outside of Lawrence and nervously submitted my first painting in a local art show. Not only was it accepted, but it was one of the five that sold from the show. I was blown away.

I remember back then thinking “well, I’m not a real artist”. I wouldn’t even call myself an artist. It was something I did at home for me. I was the director of an arts council and I helped other artists with their work.

I remember spending afternoons on sunny days walking along Massachusetts Street with an iced coffee in hand and strolling through art galleries. It was my happy place. So much creativity and inspiration in one place. One of my favorite galleries was the Phoenix Gallery. I remember thinking how amazing it must be to have art being sold there.

This month, I met with the owner and was invited to be represented by the Phoenix Gallery. It was all serendipity on how it happened. Yesterday I delivered my first pieces. To many it probably isn’t a big deal, but to me it’s huge. I have traveled all over the world for my art, do consider myself an artist now, and make my living as an artist. There is something though, about walking into a place where I use to envy and dream about being an artist and having my pieces hanging on those walls. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

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So much, so little time

I have been trying to recover from the jet lag and play catch up from all of the excitement over the past 2 months.

A few exciting things have happened.

He proposed and I said yes! Swimming away together
We’re taking the plunge!
  1. I am getting married! I have been spending so much time in the studio and working that when the opportunity to go to Belize presented itself, I took it! My love and I joined friends in Belize for a week of scuba diving. my love rushed to get certified days before hte trip so he could play, too. Completely unbeknownst to me, he had an alternative plan. You can see what happens by click on the picture!!

2. I had an amazing show at the Bowlus Fine Art Center which I will talk about much more in a future post. They did an amazing job lighting my show. I sold a few pieces and was so grateful for the opportunity to show near my home town in Southeast Kansas.

Bowlus Fine Art Center exhibit by Anastacia Drake
Art Exhibit at Bowlus Fine Art Center
Rainbow over Bunga Permai in Bali

3. I attended the Nomadic Artist Residency in Bali the end of February until the beginning of March. It was an amazing experience that I am still processing. I was pushed far outside my comfort zone and started creating in a digital format which is something I’ve never done before. As my experiences are still processing, I will be writing about it soon.

4. I took down my art show at Lankford/ Fendler in Kansas City, MO and a two new shows went up at Open Air Equity Partners near the Plaza and the Whitlock Company. The ArtsKC Now Showing Program is keeping me busy!

Open Air Equity Partners
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Best of 2018

Exciting news! I am happy to announce that I won Best of 2018 small business award through Overland Park. In particular, it was for my art classes and parties which advertise under Art Fun For Everyone.

My Paint Your Pet classes have been a huge hit and usually book out over a month in advance. I have done everything from children’s birthday parties to corporate team building paint parties.

For 2019, I am partnering with RE (formerly Restoration Emporium) in the Crossroads. I will be offering my classes in their amazing new space. If you’re interested in more information concerning classes, look here!

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