New Project

These are some illustrations I made for the subway component at a new children's play space in Brooklyn, New York.


My family members did a great job modeling for me so I could create the perfect image of subway riders. (Grumbacher watercolors and Prismacolor pencil on Fabriano paper)


My husband is the happiest MTA subway conductor ever.
(Grumbacher watercolors and Prismacolor pencil)

  
   This is the view from the conductors windows. (Prismacolor pencil and Nupastel on Bristol vellum) 
 


Work in progress




This is a simplified subway map for kids created using a combination of hand drawings, Photoshop and Illustrator.



Photos of the finished subway car below. (Photo credits: Paul Orselli)



                                      

Nepal Earthquake Update #3

I received mind-blowing news this morning.The donations and packages sent to Nepal have gotten the attention of their President and made it into the newspapers. Because of all of you who donated, a free health camp has been set up in the Sindhupalchowk District where they are distributing free prescription medications and giving free check-ups. The clothes and blankets have also been distributed to those in need. What started out as just a small act of kindness, some money and old clothes, has saved so many lives that it's made national news in Nepal. What means little to us means everything to them. 
My friend in Kathmandu sent me this email to share with you, "Happy!! Happy!! Happy!! Thank you and your friends. I'm grateful. I'm lucky!"
I am overjoyed. Thank you to all who donated.
Kim
P.S. You can still make a paypal donation to: donationsfornepal@gmail.com

Nepal Earthquake- Update #2

I've been in contact with our friends in Nepal every day and Dharma has told me about all of the packages and donations he's received from everyone. He says (rough translation) "there are no limitations to my happiness." For those of you who volunteered to help but haven't done so yet, he has sent a desperate plea for prescription meds. which I explained we can't get for him. Many people are sick from living with no shelter in unsanitary conditions and need basic antibiotics. He's found a doctor who can give him prescriptions for the people who need the medication but there's not enough money to pay for them. Please donate what you can to the Paypal account: donationsfornepal@gmail.com and it will be used to buy them medicine. Also, if you've sent a package and can track it, please let me know if it's arrived at the post office in Nepal so I can tell Dharma. There's no fuel left so therefore no busses or taxis and he needs to walk all the way into the city to pick them up. 

To donate via Paypal:  Click the Tab that says "Send", Type in the email address: donationsfornepal@gmail.com Then put in the amount you'd like to donate.

If you don't already have a Paypal account just follow the steps to create one. It's very easy.

Thank you all again for your help. There are no limitations to my happiness!

Nepal Earthquake- Update #1

I want to thank everyone who donated to help our friends in Nepal. We are overwhelmed by your generosity and so far we've raised 80,500 Nepalese rupees. We are still accepting donations through Paypal at: donationsfornepal@gmail.com. The money will be split between Grameen Clubhouse to help the villagers of Kirtipur and the HECAC children's home which was destroyed during the earthquake. The children are currently living in tents. HECAC was founed by my friend Bishnu Subedi (no relation to Dharma Subedi). He and all of it's members are volunteers. ALL of the money is going to rebuild the home and take care of the children. To learn more you can go to www.hecac.org 



Remains of the HECAC children's home:





This is the temporary shelter for the children until the home can be rebuilt:



Please go to Paypal.com Click the button at the top of the page that says Send, then type in the address: donationsfornepal@gmail.com and put in the amount you'd like to donate.



Nepal Earthquake


Kim and Dharma
You may have read in the news that Nepal suffered devastating earthquakes in April and May. I have several friends in Nepal who I’ve been trying to track down for over 5 months. I heard back from all of them except for my friend Dharma. I presumed he was dead but finally received an email from him 3 days ago. All of my friends survived but they have families with small children and every one of them lost their homes. Their entire villages and an orphanage were destroyed. Most of the people in Nepal support their families on the equivalent of $75 (£ 50 / € 67) a month and now they’ve lost their livelihoods as well. Despite what the news reports have said, not one of them has received any aid whatsoever. My friend Dharma and his family have been living in a remote village in a tent. It has been 5 months and they’ve had no way to contact the outside world; no phone, internet, electricity or running water. There are no buses or roads that can reach them. Everything must be carried into the mountains on the backs of sherpas or donkeys but many of the paths were blocked off by avalanches.

In the past few days I have received 12 desperate emails from. Those who survived the earthquake are now starving. Winter is coming and many of the villagers- elderly, babies, small children- have no tents, blankets or warm clothes and will freeze to death. They also need medical supplies. They don’t even have basic necessities like Aspirin and Bandages.



Dawa, Darren, Kim and Dharma

They are human beings who love their children and friends just as much as you do. Imagine living with your children, cut off from the world with no money, no food, no water and no shelter. Think about your pets with their comfortable beds to sleep in. They have a roof over their heads in a climate controlled home. They have fresh food and water every day. They have medical care and some of them even have more clothing than the people in Nepal.

Dharma holding my hand during the
entire descent so I wouldn't fall

What I learned from my time in Nepal, was that the poorest people are the most generous and the most grateful for what little they have. They invited us into their homes, let us sleep in their beds, fed us the best of their food before feeding themselves. They kept us safe during an earthquake, a mudslide and got me medicine when I was sick.

You don’t need to buy anything new. Look around your homes at all the things you have. I’m sure you can spare a blanket, some winter clothes, bandages, medicine, sleeping bags, or a tent. You can also donate money to help them buy food. We have so much more than we need; iphones, flat screen TV’s, cars, and closets stuffed with clothes we never wear. So please don’t say you can’t afford to donate even $10 so a child won’t starve to death.

We've set up a Paypal account for you to easily make a donation. You can send your donation to the email address: donationsfornepal@gmail.com  You can also send an email to the same address if you'd like information about where to send a package.

If you were generous enough to donate to the Red Cross that’s wonderful, but unfortunately the aid never reached them. I have heard this same story from all of my friends in Nepal. None of them have received any help whatsoever. Not even a blanket. We are not the Red Cross. 100% of what you donate will go to feed these villagers and rebuild their homes and orphanage. None of it will go to a billionaire CEO.
                       

Dharma is one of the founding members of Grameen Clubhouse. They are the NGO my husband and I visited when we were in Grameen and I've been coordinating with them to help the villagers in Nepal. They are so grateful that people have not forgotten about them. If you want to learn more about their mission, you can visit www.grameenclubhouse.org. They are so ecstatic that we are sending help and emailed me these pictures of the villagers.   

   
                      
Please share this with your churches, synagogues, mosques, co-workers, book clubs, sports teams, neighbors and friends. Thank you for reading.


STUDIO CLEARANCE SALE!!!

kombi painting

I'M CURRENTLY HAVING AN END OF SUMMER STUDIO CLEARANCE SALE!! 

ALL ORIGINAL PAINTINGS ARE 10% OFF UNTIL SEPT. 30th.







CLICK LINK BELOW VIEW MY ORIGINAL PAINTINGS IN MY ETSY STORE:



Savannas Preserve State Park

Savannas Preserve State Park contains the largest, most ecologically intact stretch of freshwater marsh in southeast Florida. During the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), Lt. Colonel Benjamin Pierce first used the term 'savannah' to describe the series of ponds and marches found in this area, which stretches more than 10 miles from Ft. Pierce to Jensen Beach, encompassing more than 6,000 acres.

The Savannas is comprised of six natural communities. Each community is characterized by a distinct population of plants and animals that are naturally associated with each other and their physical environment. The communities consist of:
Pine flatwoods
Wet prairie
Basin marsh (covers nearly 1,000 acres and is home to the largemouth bass, alligators, waterfowl and bald eagles)
Marsh lake
Sand pine scrub (home to the Florida scrub-jay and gopher tortoise)
Scrubby flatwoods

The park is also home to a rare plant called, avannas mint that grows nowhere else in the world. It also contains nearly all of the remaining populations of the fragrant prickly-apple, an endangered cactus species.







There are many ways to enjoy the park including biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and horseback riding. There is also a small picnic area and an eco-friendly restroom. We had planned to hike for the day but the landscape changes dramatically with the rainfall and many of the paths were closed off due to flooding. We went as far as we were able to go and then we visited the Education Center. The staff was extremely friendly and told us about the numerous interpretive activities available to school groups and park visitors such as guided or self guided walking tours, kayak and canoe trips. There's even a moonlight kayak tour which I definitely want to try. 

The Education Center features interactive exhibits and displays on local history, the preserve's natural communities, plant and animal species and live animal exhibits. 


We didn't have much luck with the hike but we did get the rare opportunity to watch these turtles mating. I've worked for several zoos and the circumstances have never been right to be able to witness what appears to be a fascinating feat of turtle acrobatics.


The entrance fee for the park is only $3.00 per vehicle and it's open 365 days a year. The Education Center is open Thursday-Monday.



St. Augustine, Florida


St. Augustine was never really on my radar as a travel destination in Florida until my niece went there on a school field trip. When most people think of places to visit in the Sunshine State it usually involves sunscreen and a beautiful beach. I did a bit of investigating on Trip Advisor and discovered that St. Augustine is not only teeming with history but there was so much to do that I had to narrow down my list to the top rated attractions and pick and choose what I wanted to see most on our weekend trip. 



First, a brief yet very important timeline of St. Augustine, the Nation's Oldest City.

1513: Ponce de Leon explores Florida and names it "La Florida"
1565: Pedro Menendez establishes St. Augustine
1586: Sir Francis Drake raids St. Augustine
1620: Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
1668: Pirates sack St. Augustine
1672: Construction begins on the Castillo
1695: Construction completed on the Castillo
1702: English siege of St. Augustine
1740: English bombard St. Augustine
1763: Treaty of Paris-Florida to England
1776: American Revolution
1783: Florida returned to Spanish control
1821: Spain cedes Florida to United States
1835-42: Seminole Indian war in Florida
1845: Florida is 27th State of the Union
1861: Confederacy occupies the Castillo
1888: Flagler opens Ponce de Leon Hotel
1927: Original Bridge of Lions completed

Spain's Queen Regent Mariana realized that St. Augustine was the keystone in the defense of the Florida coast so in 1672 the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos was begun. For many years it was Spain's northernmost outpost of it's vast New World empire. It's the oldest masonry fort and the best-preserved example of Spanish colonial fortification in the continental United States. It protected St. Augustine from pirate raids and from Spain's major rival, Great Britain during the time when the coastline was an explosive international battleground.

The Castillo offers guided tours or you can do a self-guided tour of the entire Castillo and most of it's rooms which contain exhibit panels and displays to help tell you the story of this National Monument.

You can't visit St. Augustine without taking a trip to Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth archaeological park. It's the oldest successful European settlement in the U.S. located in the area first explored by Ponce de Leon in 1513 and settled by Pedro Melendez de Aviles in 1565. St. Augustine was founded right in this spot, 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, and 42 years before Jamestown was colonized. The 1565 Melendez Settlement of St. Augustine was founded on it's grounds. The 1587 Mission of Nombre de Dios Church was the first Christian church built in the continental U.S.-constructed right on it's property. Even the first documented Thanksgiving feast between Europeans and native Americans occurred here.

Located in the Spring House is the Fountain of Youth (which tasted very much like sulphur and was quite disgusting) I will let you know in the future if it actually worked! However, there's much more to do in the park than just drink from the Spring of Eternal Hope. There's the planetarium where you can learn celestial navigation techniques used by early European explorers. Then there's the discovery globe which slowly rotates to reveal early Spanish explorer's routes to and from the new world.
Other exhibits on the grounds are: The Timucua Burials, Caravel Down Shipwreck, Timucua Village of Seloy, Historical Weapons Exhibit, Melendez Settlement Field, Archaeological exhibit, Chalupa shipyard, Maritime Traditions exhibit, the Cannon firing, Spanish watchtower, Timucuan dugout canoe, 600' founders' riverwalk, 1513 Ponce Landing Memorial, and the Ponce de Leon Statue.

The next main attraction we chose to go to was the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. In addition to climbing up to the top of the 140 ft lighthouse to enjoy the view you can also look into the lens room where the lighthouses's original 1st order Fresnel lens is still rotating. The Fresnel lens magnifies a 1000 watt lightbulb into a signal visible from 25 miles away. 
                

The grounds also include the oil house, the boat building area, artifact conservation, a 19th century herb garden, a shipyard play area for kids, the Keeper's house exhibits and a room filled with recovered artifacts from the 1764 wreck of the sloop Industry.

                                                  

There was loads more of museums and historical sites that we didn't have time to see but aside from that, you should take time to walk or drive around the city to appreciate the beautiful architecture of the churches and Flagler college. St. George street, located in the downtown historic district, is closed to vehicles so it's the perfect place to stroll charming little cafe's and shops. You can stop and view the Colonial Quarter, Old St. Augustine Village and the Oldest Wooden schoolhouse but you'll have to dodge the pirates roaming the street to get to the fudge shops and restaurants.



I rarely comment on the food I eat on my trips but every restaurant we chose had fantastic food. I would recommend Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille if you want to taste some mind blowing seafood gumbo and A1A Ale Works for (in my opinion) the best shrimp tacos in the world.

Although St. Augustine is a vast contrast to the rest of Florida, it's still Florida so we had to make a mandatory trip out to Vilano Beach. What makes this beach unique from any other is that you can park your car right on the sand. Back your car up facing the ocean and there's no need to lug chairs, umbrellas, and coolers. Just open the back of your truck or car trunk and you have everything you need right there.

I would definitely love to go back to St. Augustine and visit all the places we didn't get a chance to see the first time. There's so much to see and do, you could easily spend a week in this great city and never get bored.

On the move again

It's been six months since our last move and here we are moving yet again. After some rough calculations, I've realized that I've moved about sixteen times in the past fifteen years with the most time spent in one location being just under three years. I suppose I can't really call this blog, Museum Trekker if I don't keep on trekking. I'm hoping this will be my last move for a while because now I'm very tired! It's not easy to constantly pack up and start over in a new place, find a new job, a new place to live and make new friends. Plus, for the first time ever, we finally own this dwelling. An actual house; not a one bedroom rent-inflated shoebox. We bought a foreclosure which I was really excited about because I love getting my hands dirty and I love fixing things and it had quite a lot of fixing that needed to be done. The picture below is the room I decided to make my art studio. I was probably the first prospective buyer to ever get excited that the flooring had been ripped out. Our realtor looked at me like I was totally insane. I thought it would make the perfect studio because I wouldn't have to worry about making a mess on the floor. 


This closet also has a lot of shelves to hold all of my art supplies.

The previous owner added this tiny office in the living room. It blocked all of the light coming into the house and it also made the room quite small. 

We tore out the office and recycled all of the 2x4's to build a large desk/work bench in my studio as well as shelves in the garage to hold all of my tools and hardware.

We also saved all of the molding to replace in the areas of the house where the previous owner had ripped them out.

This is a picture of my husband and mom removing the walls.

Taking this room out made a huge difference. 

This is what it looks like now. We now have a large open dining area with lots of sunlight. 

My husband and I made this chandelier for the new dining area. 
My grandfather was a lamp maker and I think he would be very proud.

The color on the walls of my studio was very dark so I picked out some orange paint and my niece and nephew volunteered to help paint. Orange is my favorite color and it also promotes creativity!
We had to buy some extra cans of paint when we realized that the kids were only tall enough to paint the bottom half of the wall!
This is the room with the finished paint job. I added some cheap rubber tile flooring which makes it much more comfortable to work on than the bare concrete floor.

Here's where those 2x4 beams got put to good use from the office we tore down. We even saved and re-used all of the screws. The bench had to be built in two pieces so that it could fit down the hallway and be maneuvered into the room.

Instead of using plywood, I bought masonite for the table top so I could have a smooth work surface.

We painted the table white using the left-over paint that we used to touch up the molding in the room.
I was a bit nervous that it wouldn't fit right but the measurements were perfect and it even fit right under the windowsill. Whew! We cut holes behind the computers and printer so that the cords could run neatly underneath the bench to the power supply.

This Anco drafting table in the picture below was a fantastic flea market find. I bought it for a 1/4 of it's actual value and it even came with the original drafting machine and lamp. 

Here's a picture of the finished space. I added shelves under the printer to hold all of my paper and envelopes for shipping my prints. I'm surrounded by some of my own art, art I've collected from my travels and the art of my friends and family which keeps me inspired.

I have to give all the credit to my husband for this one. 
He paved the entire patio with recycled bricks.

I only work with oil paint outside because of the chemicals so now I also have an
 outdoor work space which I love to use on cool days.
 
Now that I've got my new art studio, shelving for my tools, a workbench in the garage and a beautiful outdoor painting area, I can get back to making art. This truly is an artist's dream come true!