I took an afternoon to admire the Chinese Pavilion at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. This structure had been a gift from the city of Taipei to SF. The surrouding area is a great refuge for humans and animals alike! I often come here to get some quiet time away from the busyness of the city.
Have you ever wanted to multiply yourself? Not for narcissistic reasons but so you could multi-task! It’d be amazing to have one version of yourself work on one part of a project while you focus on another then merge the results. Zoë Keating is a cellist extraordinaire who has managed to pull this off.
Last week I watched this musician play at the Chapel in SF. As if her playing wasn’t amazing enough, she also records loops of her melodies on the fly, piping it through a laptop.
With the control of a foot pad she’s able to start and stop these loops while generating live music on top. The results are beautifully woven layers of recordings with live performance!
Have a listen to Keating's amazing music and consider supporting this extremely talented artist!
The 2013 boston marathon was a race to the finish line that people will never forget. Two bombs that erupted at the finish line killed three people and injured more than 170 others. Originally from outside Boston, I was definitely concerned for my family and friends in the area as events unfolded. Fortunately my family lives west of the city and was unaffected. However, my friend Amie who lives in the city was only a few blocks away from the blast site when it occurred. The following sketches are based on her photos and experiences from that tragic day and the days that followed. Amie’s account of that day:
“As it was my day off, I decided to celebrate Marathon Day and Patriots day like the Bostonian that I am. I was at the Boston Marathon with my friend, just enjoying the sunshine and cheering on marathoners as they rounded the corner of Boylston Street and approached the finish line. We decided to walk up Boylston Street toward the finish line, but the crowd of spectators was thick and made it difficult to pass. Not wanting to wade through the crowd, we decided to walk through the Prudential center instead.
“As we were walking through the Prudential center, a deep boom sounded and it was followed by a louder boom that shook the building and sent a crowd of people screaming and running toward us. Instinctively we ran with them, and found our way out of the Prudential center into a courtyard right off of Boylston Street. I looked out onto the streets to see people screaming, a man carrying his crying children, everyone on their cell phones, and even a few dazed marathon runners that weren't sure what to make of what had happened.
“As I was walking, I heard someone comment that he was at the finish line and saw a man who'd had both of his legs blown off. My stomach sank and this confirmed that the blast we heard was truly something terrible. Cell phone calls wouldn't go out because the city turned off cell phone service to prevent any further bombs from being detonated.
“I'm overwhelmed with sadness for the individuals and families that were affected by this attack. I'm walking away from this grateful for the divine protection that covered us: Had we stayed walking on Boylston St. instead of cutting through Prudential, we would have walked right by bomb number two when it went off. Thank you, Lord.”
Bostonians were deeply moved by this tragedy. Throughout the incident there was an outpouring of support for the victims, businesses and all affected. No matter how deep the pain, may there be restoration in all things.
I recently dug out some sketches from my time in the Canary Islands while in dry dock with Mercy Ships. Living in shipyard is such a fascinating experience. But being in an industrial setting 24/7 needs to be balanced out the with a change of scenery every day or so. I took a bus to the old town in Gran Canaria and rested in this square at the Santa Ana Cathedral.
I hit up the Plaza de España to be surrounded by a bit of nature.
Evening gelato runs with my fellow crew led us past a beautiful park, Plaza Príncipe de Asturias in Tenerife. I returned with my sketch book the next day. Away from the busyness of repairs and construction it was nice to be in an area of complete quietness. Sometimes I'm most active when still.
Every year the Africa Mercy (AFM) receives vital upgrades and repairs to continue serving the forgotten poor. This is an important stage in this Mercy Ships' efforts. The AFM is lifted out of the water and hauled onto train tracks back into dry dock in shipyard. Its a fascinating process to watch. There are so many aspects to this operation that ultimately make the medical outreach in West Africa possible.
Like the ship, non-technical crew often take this time away from the busyness of field service to restore themselves for the upcoming challenges that lie ahead. I sketched to reflect on the enormity of the ship and its purpose.
Everyday a dental team works hard to serve 50-60 patients at a clinic run by Mercy Ships. The clinic is located about 25 minutes from where the Africa Mercy is berthed in Lomé, Togo. Procedures include extractions, fillings, new tooth construction and sometimes the occasional root canal. Dentists also treat osteomyelitis-a decaying bone infection that occurs when a tooth with a large cavity creates an abscess at the end of the root.
Dental hygienist Michelle Ediger, Canada (above) cleans a patients teeth. Local Day Workers from Togo work alongside full time crew to assist with all aspects of procedures.
People line up by the hundreds to be screened on Mondays and Thursdays for appointments. An average of 250 potential patients would be willing to wait all day in the hot sun to be seen. If able to be treated, they would given an appointment bracelet and day to return for their procedure.
Due to the lack of dental care in Togo, most patients have never been seen by a dentist. For many, a visit to the Mercy Ships dental clinic will result in relief of lifelong pain.
D-Ward is where all the maxillofacial and cleft lip patients stay while recovering aboard the Africa Mercy. During an off day I was able to spend some time in D-Ward sketching. It was fun chatting and playing connect four with some patients. When I started sketching they gathered around and watched. It was such a great way to connect and share art with them. Being present without an agenda is the best time you can spend.
Amazing acts of service take place everyday in the operating theater aboard the Africa Mercy. Part of my role as a photojournalist is to document the surgeries being covered by the writers. I also have to take shots of operations for the medical departments training.
Chief Medical Officer and Maxillo Facial surgeon Dr. Gary Parker (pictured above left) with two other surgeons operate on a 16 year old Nigerian girl. I watched as they removed a large maxillar (upper jaw region) tumor and a grapefruit sized mandible (lower jaw region) tumor from the patients face. Originally he came to serve on Mercy Ships for three months. He stayed for 25 years. During this time he met his wife, raised a family and performed countless life changing surgeries aboard Mercy Ships. With all of his field experience, Dr. Gary is one of the humblest, kindest people you could know.
The ratio of doctors to patients in West Africa is roughly 1 in 20,000. Due to lack of proper care, tumors grow to disproportionate sizes. Medical staff aboard the Africa Mercy receive additional training on how to handle surgeries for such extreme cases that are not found in the western world. The humid temperatures and dusty conditions also change how the nurses approach dressing wounds. Many local doctors also come on board to receive further training so that they can become self sustaining and train future doctors
During surgery I'm focussed on covering the story and in a way the camera separates me from the events unfolding. The slower nature of drawing has enable me to process what I've seen after the fact.
Time in the OR is a testament to the amazing design of the human body; in the operating theater, the greatest act is the power healing and restoration.
I recently went sailing in the San Francisco bay on a small boat named the Elise. The winds carried us through Golden Gate bridge and back around Alcatraz.
I'm always looking out at the east bay but never looking inland. It was refreshing to have this new vantage point. The greatest privilege in life is the ability to see it from another perspective.
As dusk set in, the winds died off along with the boats momentum. The Elise bobbed up and down but not forward. We began shifting from side to side in order to get it to move. It was hilarious to see everyone literally rocking the boat. As we inched along, another boat passed by and offered to tow us.
The wind doesn't always take us where we want, when we want; its up to us to make the best of our situation and steer in the right direction.
Beginning in April, I will be embarking on a journey to Togo, West Africa, as a photojournalist with Mercy Ships. Through photography, I will document the daily efforts of the medical staff and crew for three months with the hope of raising more awareness and donor support for this amazing global non-profit that has operated hospital ships since 1978. In short, Mercy Ships provides free medical care to the world's forgotten poor. Healing brings hope and life to those who would normally be marginalized and neglected.
I'm excited to be able to use my gifts to support this operation but I can't do this on my own. I need to raise $6,000 by March 20th in order to serve for three months. To learn more and/or make a tax deductible contribution, simply click here.
As Chistmas approaches its easy to get wrapped up in a flurry of deadlines, social events and holiday shopping. The hardest thing to do is just be still. With only a few hours of day light I was rushing to get to China Town to do some sketching. On the way, I couldn't help but notice the brightness and energy emenating from Union Square. I scratched my plans and decided to sit for a couple hours and enjoy this Christmas Tree.
Be still and reflect on the hope that this advent season brings.
I had a favorite tree in Prospect Park. Its twisting and undulating trunk looked like a wise serpent rising from the grass. And every autumn its leaves would ignite with reds and yellows before all other trees, as if anxious to reveal its true colors. I'd soak up its brilliance as I passed by on morning jogs.
The other day I returned to draw my favorite tree only to find that it had been chopped down. All that was left was a stump surrounded by long blades of grass bobbing in the cool breeze. I couldn't understand why had it been removed. Didn't others see how beatifully odd it was? Perhaps it was already on its way out or damaged in a storm.
Realizing I must capture the small things in life before they're gone, I began to sketch.
I recently had the privilege of participating in a group show/event created by The Blind Project, (a non-profit that helps empower survivors of sex trafficking in Southeast Asia) and DACS (Designers Against Child Slavery).
A few designs were selected to be screenprinted on t-shirts which would
be produced by the women who have come out of trafficking. Please consider supporting The Blind Project and these women by purchasing one of
In addition, prints of these designs were available for purchase via silent auction at the event. I am pleased to announce that the auction was a success! The proceeds benefitted TBP's efforts in helping these women acquire marketable job skills in fashion design, production as well as employ them in a positive work environment. It was truly rewarding to join forces with fellow artists to help those in desperate situations.
Aside from a t-shirt design, I was also honored to create a series of portraits depicting some of the trafficking survivors who have worked with The Blind Project in Bangkok, Thailand. My goal was to illustrate them in a simple, honest way—hoping they would be encouraged by their own beauty if they ever saw the pieces themselves.
Working on this project taught me much about the very dark world of trafficking. The biggest misconception about this industry is that it's a victimless crime. In fact, everyone—from the individuals forced into prostitution, to their families, to the "customers" who pay for sex—is damaged in some shape or form.
Another lie is that women willingly choose the path of trafficking for themselves. Often under the weight of serious threats, fear, financial pressures, or manipulation, broken-spirited women find it difficult to escape this vicious cycle.
Behind the smiles run scars deep beneath the surface.
My hope is that our artistic contributions, the work of organizations like The Blind Project and hearts that break over these atrocities will aid individuals to continue escaping the painful cycle of trafficking—and begin new lives of gradual restoration.