Month: February 2015

Who is Kitchen?

Last year I met a new artist friend, Kim Napier, in Nashville and over lunch we talked about painting, drawing, art supplies, the discovery and journey of it all … all the things that tickle my insides. During our conversation she told me the story of a man named Kitchen who she met while he was relocated to Tennessee during Hurricane Katrina.  The story was compelling and unforgettable. She had completed a beautiful oil painting of him and she graciously asked me to try my hand at drawing his portrait in graphite from a photo she had taken of him while he was relocated to Tennessee facility in Franklin. Well, I finally gave it a try… a first for drawing dreads and grey hair… not bad for a first attempt. 😉2015-02-26 19.41.28 I realized during the process,  that I thrive on drawing ‘feelings and emotions’ in addition to eyes, noses, ears, teeth, etc.  I am in constant search of how the feeling of the portrait is reflected on paper. This is exactly what happened with Kitchen’s portrait.  As I completed the drawing, I felt like Kitchen and I were old friends.  I want to know more about him, where he is, and what he’s doing … make sure he is doing OK. You know?

Rather than me telling you Kitchen’s story, I asked my friend Kim to allow me to post an excerpt from her personal notes about her time with Kitchen. Keep reading, I promise you will be blessed!

An excerpt from Kim Napier:

This is ‘Kitchen’ who arrived in Franklin, TN with many others who were displaced by Katrina in 2005.

His given name is Hillary Preston; a Vietnam veteran who never quite recovered from the annihilation of war. Besides his Bohemian appearance, he quit speaking, which provoked even more fear as he roamed the streets of home State of Louisiana. Towns-people were wary of him and children ran away when they saw him coming. His countenance was powerful.

On arrival at the TN facility [after the storm], one of those children who once feared him in Louisiana, now a thirty-something year old young man, spotted him. He called Kitchen’s family who were also dispersed throughout the South East. “You’ll never guess who is here!”

Kitchen had once saved this young man’s life by yanking him out of a truck’s path many years ago. The young man was now determined to be Kitchen’s unrelenting servant. When his ‘savior’ finished a cup, he poured another, he bought and lit cigarettes and showered such servitude that Kitchen’s silence was finally shattered one day with a simple,

“Why you so good to me?”

The young man reeled with amazement that Kitchen could speak. When he recovered, he retold the truck story, which Kitchen neither remembered nor believed.

~Kim Napier (
[Edited with permission from author]

This is Abigail Mae

Behind each drawing is a story… maybe a small story … maybe a grand story, but always a story. I recently got a request from my friend Linda to draw her fur-baby Abigail Mae (Abby), who passed away not long ago.  I knew a little about Abby prior to drawing her, but when I completed the drawing I wanted to know more. I asked  Linda to tell me more, and as she did I decided to invite her to be a ‘guest blogger’.  Her words enhanced the drawing to where I hope we now have a wonderful story about her Sweet Abby.

Here are Linda’s words about her beloved Abby:

“Abigail Mae was a very special gift to me during the most challenging time of my life. Between my dad dying and then my mom a few years later, then the loss of my job, she filled a void of companionship and love. 2015-02-20 19.57.44

Abby was one of a litter of 6 pups bred by a Mennonite family near Keuka Lake. When my mom and I went to pick her out, she was the only one who instead of running towards us, decided to go back to her mommy. It was then I knew she was going to be my surrogate furry daughter. I knew she would always return to her nurturer. And she did. Abby was very precocious as a pup but also very easily trained (my mom was staying with me at the time) so mom really trained her while I went to work. 

Abby was very loving and enjoyed just being around her family. When I went to live with my sister, Sandra, Abby was thrown into a houseful of before and after school children going in and out. She always went with the flow though. The kids loved her, especially Garrett. Abby would let Garrett do anything with her and she wouldn’t mind. She very easily became a part of her new home and Sandra (I think) grew to love her too. Abby was almost 16 when she passed and is very much missed by her mommy. She will always have a place in my heart. Her remains are in a wooden box with the tree of life engraved on the top. She will be laid to rest in our garden with a river stone engraved with her name and date of birth and death.”


Each time I complete a portrait I envision it becoming a family heirloom for the customer … and a part of my personal legacy. Lofty goals and expectations, I know, but it is hard not to think like this because each drawing contains a little piece of me. :). Meet the siblings.