Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Case Study #5 - Jeff Painting a Canvas

"Jeff Painting a Canvas" 30 x 24 oil on canvas
There are so many people affected with NF, but I have a special place in my heart for a couple of moms that live near by. Not that they are working harder or better moms or anything like that, but for some reason, it was nice to know that there were other moms dealing with raising a child with NF living reasonably close to me.

One such family are the Hansons of Overland Park, KS. Jeff Hanson was born with NF. Jeff's NF was due to a spontaneous gene mutation, so Julie and her husband, Hal, decided to just invest all of their energies and love into Jeff and just accept the diagnosis and embrace whatever Jeff's interests led to.

I am now going to briefly share Jeff's story (which a more comprehensive bio can be found on his website)

Lay in stage - 30 x 24 oil on canvas
Because of the NF, Jeff is visually impaired from an optic nerve tumor (he nick-named "Clod". The tumor started causing severe vision loss in 2005, and Jeff received radiation and chemotherapy in 2005-2006. Despite his low vision, Jeff sees well enough to continue creating original artwork for several charities, as well as commissioned pieces.

Jeff never had a "pity party" about his medical condition. He kept a great attitude throughout his treatment, despite losing his hair and all the usual "chemo" side effects. Jeff said good-bye to his home school friends, and spent three years at the Kansas State School for the Blind. He took all of this in stride, and used humor, creativity, and a headlong immersion into his artwork to defeat "Clod." On his last day of radiation, Jeff showed up for treatment in a TUXEDO! "Clod" was not going to win--or be taken seriously. Following that treatment, a helium balloon launch in our front yard signaled "farewell to Clod" and a new page of life.

Jeff started painting watercolor note cards in the Spring of 2006, when he was 12 years old. It was a hobby and pastime for him, since his visual impairment prevented him from doing sports and the usual kid stuff. Jeff's art was totally abstract, with bright bold colors. His vision did not permit him to create any concrete images. But his color combinations were explosive! Jeff sold the note cards at "Jeff's Bistro," a glorified lemonade stand he set up in his driveway in the Summer of 2006. Jeff painted and sold over 5000 note cards that summer, along with mom's baked goods, raising over $15,000 for The Children's Tumor Foundation, to help fund research for Neurofibromatosis and optic tumors.

Since that time, Jeff has moved into larger works using acrylics on canvas, with proceeds benefitting charities that have "touched his life." Jeff also donates paintings to several of his favorite charity auctions--raising as much as $15,000 each! Throughout his career, Jeff has painted over 800 original works. He is close to raising almost one million dollars and he is only nineteen years old. Now, that is inspiring.

Jeff Hanson - Watercolor, 24 x 18. 2012.
I have already painted Jeff, like I have the others for my Many Faces of NF project. So, in keeping with my idea of painting the person and having NF play a secondary role, I asked Julie to take pictures of Jeff while he worked. I went to visit the Hansons and was visually stunned by the studio. Julie has everything all organized and categorized. Ohhh...how I wish someone would come organize my studio, mine looks more like a tornado came through. But, I digress.

Jeff's mom Julie is amazing. She completely focuses herself on the career of her son's art and is tireless in promoting him, getting supplies, going to charity events, promotion and marketing. I think Jeff is very lucky to have such a mom. Although, since I am also a mom, Julie is very lucky to have such a tender and loving son as well.

I like to talk with her because Jeff is exactly ten years older than my son. So, she and her husband have already walked this path and they are a source of comfort, hope and inspiration. I admire the entire family and my only reservation is that I hope my painting will do Jeff justice.

1 comment:

Julie Hanson said...

Dear Rachel,

I am so touched by the fabulous portrait you created of Jeff.
You did an amazing job capturing
Jeff in his element (his studio).

Thank you for all you do to help
bring awareness to Neurofibromatosis. You are a wonderful artist, friend and mother.

With Thanks & Joy,
Julie Hanson