Friday, January 15, 2010

Crisis Nursery

Amanda Chadwick is celebrating her birthday with a week long series of events she has planned. This is the greatest idea I have heard in a while. Why only celebrate on one day of the year? The first party was at the Children's Home Society, Crisis Nursery where Amanda is an events coordinator. I was the first to arrive and gradually 6 or 7 of her friends trickled in. Most of her friends are comedians so I knew there would be plenty of laughter. Before we were let in to play Amanda explained a little about the Nursery's function.
The home is a place of refuge for children who been abused or neglected. Sometimes new born infants come straight from the hospital. It is hoped that all the children will find foster parents in a loving and stable home. Some children who have developed behavioral issues, end up returning to the Crisis Nursery. Amanda said that most visits are rather structured but this time she wanted to have a free and open play period. When we first entered everyone sat on the couch in the living room area. Within minutes children were hugging and playing with the newcomers. I thought I would sit down on my portable stool and start sketching, but the children were soon standing in front and beside me asking what I was doing. They immediately wanted to sketch themselves and I gave each a pencil. I had another pad for them to sketch in. One boy asked me to draw him. He then took the sketch and went over to a corner table to work on it. He worked for the longest time hunched over and focused. Amanda came over and told me I had inspired him.
I drew a little girl and then she asked me to draw her dress so I sketched her from head to toe. She was thrilled and took the sketch to hang in her room. The electronic piano was bought in by Elizabeth Drake Forbes. The children crowded around it, discovering new sounds and beats. This moment gave me a center of interest and finally gave me time to sketch. Most children were still running around with balls flying and bouncing off of heads and ceiling fans. Amanda bought cupcakes and everyone sat around the table to eat them. Then the children went outside to play and burn off the sugar. I stayed and finished up this sketch. One little girl loved the piano so much she returned to it when everyone else had lost interest. She began to develop a beat and sound that finally resembled music.
One little girl was sad and crying. Mary Hill saw the girl crying and she sat down on the floor near her. Mary said, "I hear you, you are sad. I hear you." The little girl didn't quite know how to process this but as Mary continued to talk soothingly to the little girl, she slowly inched towards Mary until she was sitting on her lap. When it was time to leave there were many hugs. This was the best birthday party ever!

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


Alex said...

Hey, I've been following your blog for a little while and I've been wondering--have you ever talked about your process? For instance, do you sketch with ink right off the bat, then finish with watercolor later on? I just enjoy your work a lot and would love to hear more about what you "do" when you sketch, what your approach is.

DennaBeena said...

Thank you so much for not only your sketch but you perfect description of the afternoon. It was funny to see the attack of your sketching materials as the children caught on to what you were doing!