Creativity Calendar Artists
Each year PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project develops a wall calendar to showcase the work of artists who participate in the project. From the nearly 400 artists whose work is displayed online, 13 inspiring works are chosen. PDF then asks the Parkinson's community to choose the calendar's cover image through an online vote.
Check out the artists whose work has been featured in our calendar.
February: Sam Erwin and "My Heart Overflows"
Sam Erwin, of West Des Moines, IA, created a pastel drawing entitled, “My Heart Overflows,” which was chosen as an appropriate representation for the Valentine’s Day month of February in the 2012 calendar.
Ms. Erwin, who was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s at the age of 42, has a passion for drawing. Friends and family even gave her the nickname, “the doodler” for her habit of always carrying around a sketch pad and markers. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999, she found drawing to be a therapeutic release from her symptoms. She says, “Art really centers me because the whole body has to be involved with it. I have met many people like myself who face challenges and discovered art to be a medication.”
Her drawing features an overflowing heart design, which she explains, “Sometimes when you sit down with someone who has PD and you ask them how they are, they become overwhelmed from the expectations of family or employers. The words don’t always come. With art you can let all of that go and use it in place of words to soothe your heart.”
March: Alan Rubin and "Drum Roll"
Delaplane, VA, resident Alan Rubin has displayed several of his works on the online gallery of PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project. One of these, a colorful oil painting called “Drum Roll” was featured in the month of March for the 2012 calendar.
Mr. Rubin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008, has been working as a full-time artist for the past thirteen years. He spent many years in various professions such as a government worker and co-owner of the Biograph Theater in Georgetown, before becoming an artist. As for his thoughts on how Parkinson’s affects his craft, Mr. Rubin says, “When friends ask me what I'd do if my hands get too shaky for the detailed work I do, I tell them that I'll become an abstract expressionist.”
Mr. Rubin said of his experience with creativity, “I think owning a theater helped influenced my style of painting. I paint scenes that are like single frames from a film – they have no context. This means that other people’s interpretations of my paintings are often not what I had in mind, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s not about what I see, it’s about the story they see when they look at the paintings.”
April: Penny Team and “Flowers of the Field” Quilt Panel
Penny Teem, of Willford, AR, participated in the Parkinson’s Quilt project to help raise awareness. Her embroidered springtime quilt panel entitled, “Flowers of the Field” was chosen from the panels of 600 others to be featured in the 2012 calendar for the month of April, which is also Parkinson’s Awareness month.
Ms. Teem, a Navy veteran, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s seven years ago. She demonstrated her creativity at a young age and was sewing and knitting by age nine. In recent years, she began creating quilts using appliqué, a technique of using smaller pieces of a fabric to create a design on a larger background. Ms. Teem finds that her Parkinson’s tremors seem to stay under better control when she is quilting and keeping her hands moving.
Ms. Teem said of her experience with creativity, “In a way, being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease was a blessing. It changed my life for the better because it gave me the life I wanted. If my hands are going to move, I wanted to focus them in a positive direction and do something creative with them. The saying ‘Flowers in the Field’ inspired me to create this quilt. Many of us have Parkinson’s but the disease is different for each person. Like a flower we are similar but we are all unique.”
May: Joan Waters and "Wren on Cactus"
Joan Waters of Spokane, WA finds enjoyment in the challenge of turning glass into mesmerizing pieces of art. One of her many glass sculptures entitled, “Wren on Cactus” was chosen to be featured in the month of May for the 2012 calendar.
Ms. Waters has loved art since her youth and even graduated from San Diego State University as an art major. She then applied her creativity to a career as a draftsperson, where she created technical drawings for the construction of buildings, bridges and substations. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2004, she began creating glass sculptures, many of which are inspired by her travels across Hawaii and Japan as a child with her US Navy father. She started small, by creating beads, pendants, marbles, and paperweights, but she advanced to bigger and more challenging glass sculptures.
For Ms. Waters, the process of melting glass helps improve her coordination as it requires the use of both hands. While she finds rigidity to be her worst symptom, she says working with glass to create beads, pendants and sculptures is “very therapeutic and makes me feel good about myself.”
Ms. Waters offers advice to those living with PD who wish to explore their creative side: “Find whatever art or creative endeavor excites you. Don’t get discouraged if your results are not perfect. The fun is in the act of creating something. When you make something really beautiful, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
July: Merle McCloud Cruser and “Cliff Diver”
The artwork of Maddock, ND, resident Merle McCloud Cruser was chosen to depict the summer month of July for the 2012 calendar. Her acrylic painting called “Cliff Divers” is a perfect representation of a summertime activity.
Ms. McCloud Cruser, a former hardware store manager, is now a full-time artist who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 14 years ago. She had a passion for art since she was a teen, having taken metal shop classes in college. After her Parkinson’s diagnosis, Ms. Cruser took up painting and she became successful at her craft; having sold several of her paintings. She also found painting to be therapeutic, saying it allows her to “get lost” in her creativity and eases her symptoms temporarily. She wanted to share this experience with other people with Parkinson’s and has done so through PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project.
Ms. McCloud Cruser said of her experience with creativity, “After I was diagnosed, I felt like my life was over, but after some time I realized I could become an artist, which is what I have always wanted to do. While some days are not so great and I have to be patient, other days – particularly those when I’m painting and I forget my symptoms – are good. In a way, being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease was a blessing.”
February: Cindy DeLuz, "Jazzy Jar" Marks Third Consecutive Year in Calendar
Stockton, CA resident Cindy DeLuz is a mixed media artist whose work was selected to appear in PDF’s 2011 calendar. Her painting “Jazzy Jar” was featured in the month of February, making it the third time that her work was selected for the calendar.
Ms. DeLuz became an artist after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago. Three months after her diagnosis, she suddenly became inspired to paint, finding it to be therapeutic. She wanted to share this experience with other people with Parkinson’s and found a way to do so through PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project.
Her other contributions to the project’s online gallery include colorful paintings of flowers, photographs, and what she refers to as “Parkie art”—the more “wiggly” art that she creates when her tremors are acting up, as a way of turning a symptom of Parkinson’s disease into something positive. Ms. Deluz was commissioned by PDF to create a painting for Robert Benjamin, the founder The Light of Day Foundation, in honor of his award at the organization’s 2010 gala.
Ms. DeLuz said of her experience with creativity, “In a way, being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease was a blessing, because it allowed me to discover my passion. Creating art is a way to turn living with Parkinson’s into something positive. If I can continue to contribute to PDF’s Creativity and Parkinson’s Project, to continue to explore my love for creating art, and to show others with PD that they can find peace through creativity, I will.”