Art, College, And Philanthropy

A round peg in a square hole – have you ever thought of yourself this way? Most artists and creative people are “different,” to put it politely. But really, we’re all unique, aren’t we? Still, I remember wanting desperately to be a lot more like my peers in elementary school. Eventually, I went to an art college (Kansas City Art Institute), and learned to be nearly as “different” as my classmates. No conformists among us, no sir!

That's Caleb on the right, with his sister and brother, at one of his favorite events: a baseball game.

That’s Caleb on the right, with his sister and brother, at one of his favorite events: a baseball game.

My artist husband, Scott, and I had 5 children, and all of them have unique talents and are blessed with difference, as well. Our youngest son opted to ride a unicycle (as well as 2 of his siblings) for the sheer fact of making sure he was not like his bike-riding friends. But our firstborn, Caleb, has another distinction: he is disabled.

I realize that many, many people have disabilities. It’s a wonder of our age that people are able to live and often flourish in the present day who would once have died or been pushed to the outermost fringes of existence. Caleb is one such young man. During his birth, Caleb was without oxygen for a time, which resulted in epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and partial blindness. Thanks to medications, his seizure activity was kept to a minimum during childhood. He has been off of the medication for several years now.

Caleb helps with church ministries on campus and off.

Caleb helps with church ministries on campus and off.

As a young child, Caleb had some very high quality care. Later, our options thinned out considerably, and I ended up home schooling him. Thanks to that, he is able to read and is proficient on a computer. Because his issue is in his brain, Braille is not a workable option for Caleb, but we did not know this when he was young. His school wanted to teach him Braille, and I continued with it for a year or so. However, if not for me, he may never have learned adequate print reading skills.

The fact is that Caleb simply did not “fit” any of the existing programs as he was being educated. To his sighted friends, he seemed clearly disabled. To his blind and visually impaired peers, and compared to those with various other disabilities we knew, he was the “highest functioning.” That made Caleb feel like he “should” be able to do things he saw others do. But “normal” activities were very taxing and burdensome for him. He later went to a “regular” high school and graduated with average grades.

Caleb sofa

Caleb is now 28 years old. He has been in school every year since before his first birthday. His disabilities prevent him from taking more than 2 or 3 classes at a time. He has been a senior at Colorado State University for the past few years, and may complete his degree next year. He is very happy about the possibility to earn a living in his field, which is natural resources. However, he has run into a problem.

A nice chunk of Caleb’s tuition for the past few years has been paid by a government agency, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. He’s had some wonderful case workers, and some not so great. But none of them have stuck around. It seems they never can quite keep up with the workload. Recently, Caleb got a new case worker.

The timing of this change was unfortunate; Caleb was attempting to connect with the new case worker during the time when she needed to assist him in applying for coverage of his spring 2014 tuition. She did not do it in time, and the deadline passed. Now, Caleb is in need of some other kind of assistance in order to continue with school. Caleb may be 28 years old and living on his own, but I am still his mother.

I have set up a fund-raising page for Caleb, and if you click here, you can see it. I am donating a painting (that has gotten a lot of great attention) to the cause. For every donation of $25, one entry will be made for the donor into a draw for the painting, “All About The Ladder.” The drawing will happen if and when the full amount is raised, and we’re now over half way there.

"All About The Ladder" by Mollie Walker Freeman

“All About The Ladder” by Mollie Walker Freeman

I’m not generally supportive of everyone who has a financial crisis going to the internet to try to get their friends to bail them out. This is something worth doing, I believe. Okay, perhaps I’m a bit biased? Either way, if you want to donate to Caleb, we’ll all appreciate it greatly.

 

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A Ready Model

Finding ┬áthe right model for a painting can be a challenge for a painter. In art school, we never had much of a choice. That said, both Scott and I ended up with some nice drawings and paintings; so it wasn’t all bad. Scott did a fun post about those experiences, which I guarantee to be much more entertaining than anything I will ever write. Click here to read that post.

MWF-Leap of Faith (2)JPG

“Leap of Faith” by Mollie Walker Freeman, model: Joel Freeman

A nice thing has happened in the past several years with regard to models in our life: we had children, and they grew up. Even as children, our kids were sometimes asked to model for us. But, it sounds like more fun than it actually turns into, for a kid. Sitting still-ridiculously still- for hours while breathing oil paint and listening to old people’s music is rarely worth the $5 Mom and Dad pay at the end of the day.

"Growing Season" by Scott Freeman, model: Sierra Freeman

“Growing Season” by Scott Freeman, model: Sierra Freeman

But, once they were teens, our kids could pass for either younger kids or adults in paintings (which made them extremely versatile). A few extra dollars and a chance at celebrity, no matter how slim, was enough to persuade a teenager to try the modeling thing again.

"Calm Before The Storm" by Scott Freeman, model, Sierra's friend, Sarah

“Calm Before The Storm” by Scott Freeman, model, Sierra’s friend, Sarah

Also, our children’s friends were sometimes offered a modeling job. My daughter and her 2 friends became the subjects of my husband’s book illustrations (“Naomi’s Gift.”) My son, Lee, ended up posing as a character in the same book.

"Day of Rest" by Mollie Walker Freeman, model: Renee Freeman

“Day of Rest” by Mollie Walker Freeman, model: Renee Freeman

The paintings posted here all make use of our children and their friends as models. There are many more, as well, some of which will probably make it into future posts. The most recent one of Renee was just finished last week, and will hang in our up-coming show at the Loveland Museum and Gallery in November 2013. The photo is a snapshot, since I’ve not yet been able to have it professionally photographed.

So thanks, kids!