What a beautiful way to end the year.
On New Year’s Eve, Artist Beti Kristof and I painted her friend, Gail, from the shoulders up in celebration of the healing power of art and the imminent new year.
Artists A.D. Cook and Beti Kristof with Gail.
Our friend, Gail Galantuomini, O.D., at Red Rock Eye Care, has been going through chemotherapy procedures for a while now and has finally gotten to the point where hair loss was part of the process. It seems as though we have a few friends who have traveled this path – too many, really. And it’s never easy, not for them and not for those around them. Truthfully, it’s hard to see people you care about to go through these tribulations in life. After all, life is hard enough already.
That’s why I believe in the healing power of art. Beti, too. We both do. We know because we’ve seen it before.
The healing power of art is contagious — not only for the person who gets painted but for the entire family and friends who share in the experience… and, in truth, for the artist(s) as well. It reminds us all why we are grateful for each day and for the love of those around us.
Taking time to celebrate life and share a memorable time, great laughs, and a little red with the people you care about is important. It’s everything. It’s about the family you choose and getting through this thing we call life together, one day at a time.
Art is fun. That’s part of what makes it healing. Fun is healing. Laughter, too, I believe. So, if laughter is the best medicine, art is a close second – then wine*. Maybe I should qualify because I am definitely not a doctor. This is just my theory. And I’m sticking with it. Laughter. Art. Wine.
“Painting in itself can be healing, but painting my friend’s saved head is a powerful cathartic experience. The emotions, the awe, the reverence, and respect… the love that filled the room full of friends and family, the laughter, and the surprise Gail shared when she saw what we painted for the first time in the mirror… released a moment of pure joy!
We all were completely in the moment, and the thoughts of the weeks before, the trials and pain she was feeling when we first arrived… were all released in laughter, tears, and joy.
When you said you felt so beautiful when you looked in the mirror and described how uplifting the experience was…I just had to think that there is an amazing strength within you to pull yourself through all the challenging days and the not-so-pleasant times…but beautiful you always are.
I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
— Vincent Van Gogh
The Finished Leopard by A.D. Cook and Beti Kristof. Gail is checking out the front (Beti’s creation).
So, with that in mind, we created a plan. Gail is an Optometrist, so I thought “eyes” – we had to do something with eyes. Beti loves animals, so eyes quickly became animal eyes. We decided to paint a spirit animal as a reflection of Gail’s powerful approach to tackling this cancer battle… and what would be more fun than painting a Leopard’s face on the back of Gail’s head?
Art is fun. That’s part of what makes it healing. Fun is healing. Laughter, too, I believe.
— A.D. Cook
Gail’s first look at the finished art.
As we arrived, Las Vegas’ own Makeup Artist, Elaine Goodlad, was wrapping up Gail’s eyes. A few of Gail’s friend was there in support. It didn’t take long for us to set up and get started. Naturally, projects of this caliber require appropriate tools, so I was presented with a fantastic glass of red to get me started :-)
All finished… I snapped a few pics of the finished artwork and Gail’s beautiful eyes (adorned by makeup artist Elaine Goodlad). Behind me is Gail’s father, Robert.
And all the beautiful scroll designs on the front are all Beti. The bling, too. Beautiful work, Dahlin’.
These projects are a blast! Thank you, Gail, for including us.
Cheers to life!
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Gail Galantuomini, the warrior goddess
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Some readers may recall my blog post from < March 4th, 2015 > Zest of Life, where Beti and I traveled to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Goodyear, Arizona, to visit her friend Melonie Lesh. If you missed it, you can read it here: > Zest of Life.
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A.D. is an artist who started drawing at a young age. Throughout his life, he has worked with different creative tools in traditional and digital art and design. His art and writings have been showcased in various publications such as Airbrush Action Magazine, Airbrush Magazine, American Art Collector, Art & Beyond, Dream To Launch, Easyriders, Las Vegas City Life, Las Vegas Weekly, L’Vegue, ModelsMania, Quick Throttle, and The Ultimate Airbrush Handbook.