Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Case Study #10 - Darren Skydiving in England

"Darren Skydiving in England" - 30" x 24" oil on canvas
One incredible aspect of my project (and of social media in general) is the ability to connect with others globally. I painted Darren Kirk's portrait a few years ago for my Many Faces of NF page. Darren lives in Selston, U.K. I realized he was skydiving to raise money for the Neuro Foundation in the United Kingdom. It had occured to me that at that time that I wasn't really very well informed about NF charities in other parts of the world besides the United States. This prompted me to learn more about the Neuro Foundation and how they help NF families and patients.

A skydive is generally something that people who don't mind taking risks embark on. It takes courage and faith to leap out of a plane and just hope that the people who strapped you into your parachute knew what they were doing. I have no plans of ever doing this. My fear of heights couples with my desire to keep my feet safely on the ground, have always made me admire people who not only take the risk, but apparently find it fun and exhilarating.

Darren Skydiving in England - prep sketch for the oil painting
After some Facebook discussion about the event, Darren informed me that he and his friends managed to raise about £6,000. He also mentioned that not only does he have NF, but both of his sons have it as well, so the jump wasn't just about him, but also a showing of love for his family too. He also organizes NF get togethers, picnics, and bowling nights.

I decided that it would be a great addition to the series to depict Darren doing something more than just a hobby. I also believe that keeping in line with all the paintings of quiet solitude, the painting should depict the quiet moment of right before he jumped out. I would think that is when focus, fear and concentration is at its highest. The moment you know you are going to jump out of a plane. And while I can speak from experience, it must be quite an unforgettable feeling.

In Darren's words:

Watercolor of Darren done for the
Many Faces of NF page
I found out I had nf when I was 27 (now 45) so found school very difficult just couldn't grasp many things. At age 11 I had a deformed chest bone removed only later to find out it was NF-related. It resulted in having a scar from nipple to nipple. I am very lucky that my NF is mild; although I have tumor in my head and while not on the brain itself it has woven itself amongst the fat content that surrounds the brain. My bones ache all the time and I have diminshed concentration and a very poor memory. My main concern now is for my two boys Kieran and Dane who both have NF. They are doing well but Kieran struggles at school. Dane has social problems and his issues can be hard work at times. I've done two sky dives now and raised about £6000. The last jump I got 20 people to participate with me, so I've set up another upcoming jump to help raise more awareness.