Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina Angels

Katrina Angels (top)
Katrina Angels -detail (bottom)
12" x 16"
Today, there are observations going on for the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. More stories are being told, suffering goes on, as does rebuilding.
As the hurricane developed and was coming in to hit the Gulf Coast area, I, like others, sat in front of the television set, day and night, watching all the coverage possible. I've been in a couple of floods, and a few hurricanes, but nothing like this.
One of the first early reports of the horror that occured, was from a female reporter calling in to her tv station to tell that she had been out in a boat with her crew, as it got dark. They had to come back in as it was so dangerous. She seemed to break down as she told of seeing a dog wrapped in wires, being electrocuted; of hearing cries for help in the dark, but there was nothing they could do.
I didn't know that there was such a thing as rescue swimmers. I was fascinated as the orange helicopters of the Coast Guard swooped through the skies and hovered, and held my breath each time I saw the crew members beside open doors. I just knew that someone might fall out. But, amazingly, that didn't happen. Strong men in fitted suits and helmets with dark glasses, swung on ropes through the air to drop into polluted water or onto rooftops, to help stranded people get up into the helicopters and off to what they hoped would be a safe place.
The Coast Guard seemed to be the only ones who were able to do anything, until other services arrived with their own helicopters and rescue teams. As more and more helicopters and crews arrived, the sky seemed filled with them. They were like angels, swinging on ropes through the sky, bringing care and mercy to victims.
I am still in awe of their daring, their strength, their knowledge, and skill. As I have watched more tv programs featuring these helicopter crews, I am amazed at what they do. I can't imagine being near a door in a moving helicopter, much less jumping into the ocean with crashing waves and a sinking ship. Then having to go back into the helicopter and perform medical services on victims.
As I thought about the rescuers, I wanted to do some art work as a tribute to them. I sketched in some of the scenes I remembered during Katrina on watercolor paper. I just had to show the orange of the helicopters, so I knew that I had to add color. I put in a dog, wrapped in wire; a man trying to make his way through the water; holes chopped in the roof with an axe; people in groups on rooftops; stranded cars and people; sick people being lifted up and cared for; flooded homes; debris drifting by; a city in the background; a church steeple, rising from the water, as a symbol of hope; and the sky filled with helicopters and those "angels", everywhere.
While I worked on this painting, my grandson had a project to do for school. He wanted to enter an art competition that had a theme of American Heroes. I thought he might be inspired by my "Katrina Angels" and think of them as American Heroes, as they certainly were, in my opinion. However, he wanted to paint something with an atomic bomb explosion in it. He ended up sharing my watercolors with me, and painted his explosion, with a soldier in front of it, guarding us, and a helicopter crashing from the blast. It was nice to paint together.
I thought that it was very colorful and bold. His teacher picked it to go to the big show, and he was so excited. But, it didn't win, so that was disappointing. I explained to him about how judging works, and that the important thing is that he did the painting, and others got to see what he did. He was thrilled to get a certificate that said he participated. It was really difficult for a while, as he tried to decide what to do. That was the real struggle.
Trying to create from someone else's title is often hard. When I was teaching, and we had shows with themes to particpate in , I wanted to go to the planners and ask , "Just what is it that you mean by that? What do you want?" Trying to figure that out is the hardest part. Usually I can think of an idea for these sort of things- months after the show has ended! But, some of the students usually came up with good ideas, after struggling with it for a while.
"Katrina Angels" was painted on Strathmore 140 pound watercolor paper using Winsor Newton watercolors. I liked the effect of the greens and purples, including my favorite Cobalt Violet. My grandson commented that he liked the reflection of the helicopter in the water.
I took a photo of this one and put it on my computer, in order to get the whole picture. This is the top picture above. However, I also did scans of parts of the painting to get details, which are the two lower pictures. There are different effects with using the scanner and the camera. Sometimes, the art work gets washed out by flash or sunlight when using a camera. And, with the scanner, sometimes details, like texture of the paper, detract from the painting.
Be sure to look at the links to Artists and Authors and Interesting Sites on my page. And, I hope that you will share my blog with others who might be interested. I was so excited to add the counter to my page yesterday. It was fairly easy to do, too. Thanks to Nancy Standlee for putting that in her blog.


Diane O'Connor said...

Thank you for visiting me and I am equally enjoying looking at your blog as well. I was very touched by your post about Katrina and I particularly love the drawing of the girl going back to school. Very sweet.

D Simpson said...

Thank you for you post about "Katrina Angels". I have two friends that worked as "angels" after the storm. I was touched. New Orleans is like my second home. Both of my parents are from that area.