Thursday, November 7, 2013

So Exciting! A Week For Our Heroes

Yes this is an exciting week for me.  First of all look at this!   Forest is on the front cover of the Syracuse New Times during this week of remembering our Veterans.

I have been interviewed by many journalists in the past; this one, is the best. I am so grateful to Larry Dietrich, the editor of the Syracuse New Times, my good friend and great artist Meaghan Arbital, designer and all the staff.  Thank you from the bottom of this Marine Momma's heart to all the staff who helped get my deepest heart message out to America.

Many times people want to know why I did "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective", assuming I did it as a way to cope with my worries of Forest being in a war.  That is not the reason I painted these.  It is about their stories, their experiences and how a parent sees a warriors service.  Not just her own son, but the many warriors and the resilient families that proudly stand behind them.   To be "coping with the worries of Forest being at war" would be cowering and weak.  You learn to seek the things that make you strong. My faith kept me strong, even during my darkest hours I was not alone.  My Syracuse Marine Parents listened to me when I feared and built me up. There were many hours spent talking with my 3rd Marine 6th Battalion parents, relationships that are strong and steadfast. My son and every Veteran old and young that I have met, who by example taught me to be brave.  In the midst of all they were going through, I learned to walk tall; I had nothing to complain about.   I painted out of strength and purpose, learning so much about Forest and myself during this time.  What this painting series mission"s purpose is done is out of gratitude for my warriors and the bridge I am building to teach America about their service.  Thank you for all you do.

Come to the Veterans Parade and Expo at the New York State Fairgrounds Saturday the 9th from 10 - 3 with a parade at 10 and the expo all day!  I will be debuting "Our Kids Meet Their Kids".  Check out their ev everydayness in a warzone taking time to stop and share a little one on one fun with the local kids in Afghanistan.  You wonder what kind of job skills a Machine Gunner might have to fit into a job here in America?  Try Embassador, Teacher, Interpreter, Negotiator and think about all the possibilities. Their stepping into the lives of children who live in such an impoverished war torn country sets a tone that I pray lasts generations.  You change the world for the better one step at a time.

So America come see who your Heroes are today.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"America, Do You know Who Your Heroes Really Are?" and New Events Around the Corner

Have another painting coming in the future.  Take a look at this picture of Cpl Arthur Lucero, USMC "Hi Fiving" one of the Afghan children.  They just flocked to these men because they were a cause for sharing joy and hope.  I just want to catch the spirit I see.

Just finished The Apple Festival's 5k run and I am looking at some other runs coming up.  Proudly wore my Hope For The Warriors jersey.  I'm working still at raising more monies for them so, if you would like to donate, my link is still working at  They do so much for our wounded warriors, and military families.  It is time for all of us to get out the message about our Military "America, Do You know Who Your Heroes Really Are?"

The painting "our Kids Meet Their Kids" is almost finished and the other Acrylic painting "A Dog Handler" will turn the corner with its details.

The upcoming event for "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective" is just around the corner for a busy November.  The Veterans parade and Expo will be on November 9th at the New York State Fairgrounds to say Thank you to our Veterans from every branch to every conflict our Military has gone through to protect our freedoms.  The Parade starts at the Grandstand at 10:00 just outside the Center of Progress Building.  Following the parade, the full series will be at the Expo with many groups and organizations with a message close to my heart, "America, do you know who our heroes really are?  Heroes under 30 have been nominated for recognition, and there is a job fair for Veterans.

On the evening of The Marine Corp's 23 Birthday, Central New York will celebrate with the traditional Marine Corp Ball.  And I will get more info posted here as soon as I can.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Final Stages of "Our Kids Meet Their Kids" - What My Paintings Teach Me

"Our Kids Meet Their Kids", is in its final stages.  And so many times my paintings teach me for they are not mere photos that come my way in which I just add paint and mimic the image.  America needs to know their heroes.  That is what this series is about in teaching the average American Citizen what our sons and daughters are doing, what its like to be in a war zone, brought their to serve.  They stand in the gap, protecting our peace and freedom to make a difference in this world.  So remember, not only a difference here in the USA, they also provide a protection for the new found to the freedom of the people of Afghanistan in this 13 year long war.  It is my hope "A Military Series - A Parent's Perspective" tells their stories.

Lcpl Michael Parris, USMC was on a local security patrol, had stopped with his his camera to mingle with the local children.  Part of that patrol, Cpl Chris Leonard, USMC took this shot.  As I have painted so many portraits, it the natural part of the artist in me that wants to fix anything that is not proportionate.  Notice the shoes on the child with his back to the camera.  I struggled with them because they are so big.  Why is he wearing such big shoes.  They live in the growing district in the Helmand Province, so most likely these are farmers children.  It is dusty and dirty out there, yet their shoes are so white?  Then it struck me, remember this is Afghanistan and these children live in such poverty that getting a new pair of shoes is no small feet - literally!  Many times our sons would write back asking for us to send along clothing for children.  Those shoes are now in true proportion.  They are three sizes too large and he may need to wear those for 2-3 years.  The children of Afghanistan have come to love meeting up with our Marines.  Our kids meet their kids with such fondness.  Many are reminded of their own sons and daughters, younger brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews back at home.  It sure is a pleasure to take time with these children.  Can't help but ponder how our kids have impacted their lives in a positive way.    

Many people ask me "How long does it take you to finish a painting?'.  My quick reply is approximately three weeks if I were to paint constantly without interruption.  The group paintings do take much longer approximately a year in the process, such a wonderful opportunity to learn and bring out their stories.  .

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Guest Artist at the NY State Fair and Traveling around in the Land of the Free, because of the Brave!

(A fellow artist, photographer Herm Card took the photo)
This summer has gone fast.  I ended off with the NY State Fair as a Artist in Residence with "Our Kids Meet Their Kids"  It was such an honor to be there on "Veterans Day at the Fair".  And yes, I did wear that "Hope 4 the Warriors Jersey that I earned.and I did complete all those sit ups (7,750 sit ups for the month of August).  

So what has been happening in the month of September?  The Art Store has kept me busy with Back to School, (we have a Syracuse University, Onondaga Community College, Several other State and Private Colleges that converge on the store for supplies all at one time.

And now that has eased up I have been putting finishing touches on "Our Kids Meet Their Kids"  (more on that one in the next post) and traveling in NY.  Originally, I was going to travel back up to Saranac Lake and teach plein air painting like I had this summer.  But with the way peoples schedules are, I found myself with just a few students, so I cancelled.  Instead my Sister (sherpa for my artist's travels) Sue and I traveled to
Boldt Castle in the 1,000 Islands.  As children our family had visited what we considered ruins of a beautiful dream that ended too soon when Mr Boldt's wife died 2 months before it was to be lived in.  What a contrast at Heart Island today, to step into Boldt Castle and find much of it beautifully restored as if Mrs Boldt had been able to live there.  I took lots of photos of the Boldt Castle, the Power House, the Boat House, even a bride descending the steps of Ulster Castle (the children's playhouse) to her betrothed waiting below (met the groom on the boat traveling over).  And after Sue and I returned to Alex Bay I did some journal painting for future projects.   

I found in my travels a most welcoming reminder of the freedom we live in.  Our flag flies on top of Castles, in humble homes and proudly over Veterans Memorial Parks.  Simply freedom is not free and I recognize the sacrifices our sons and daughter make.  Thank you for your sacrifices my military family and Semper Fi

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Challenge to Give Hope 4 The Warriors

Come on America, Donate to Hope for the Warriors - a very worthy cause to help our Veteran's and their families that are facing great challenges.  I set out to meet the "Challenge to the Core" doing 250 sit ups for each day of the month of August and to raise $500.00.  At registration H4W had a jersey.  Really awesome but I did not want to just purchase it, I wanted to earn it by loosing inches off the abdomen area by August 20th.  Just wanted you to know, today I have earned that jersey with a measurable difference, but I still need your help with the donations!  Please  click into my own Hope for the Warriors donation web page and donate $1.00, $5 $10 or $20.  Read on for what I will do to add to the challenge.

The Marines have a saying that their titles are never given, they are earned.  When I registered there was a jersey that I really wanted.  I wrote to my team leader and told him I couldn't buy the jersey, I had to earn it.  I set a goal to loose a measurable difference by day 20.  I have done a lot of fashion designing in my life, so measurements are not a problem for me to see.  They are a fact and better to measure than to weigh, because burning fat in this case, I also produced muscle.  You know muscle weighs more than fat.  On day one my measurements were 8/1 bust 36, high waist 34 1/2, Waist 36, high hip 39, hip 41.  8/6 Bust 36, High waist, 33, waist 35, high hip 38 5/8, hip 41.  8/16 bust 35 3/4, high waist 32 3/4, waist 34 1/2 high hip 37 1/2, hip 40 1/4.  Today (reckoning day) Bust 35 1/4, high waist 32, waist 34 1/4, high hip 36 3/4, hip 40.  The goal was to loose inches and never expected within 20 days of 250 sit ups a day, watching what I ate and keeping track of my fluid intake would produce loosing so many inches overall.  What was loss is gain for me. I will wear that jersey while I demonstrate my painting of "Our Kids Meet Their Kids" at the New York State Fair.  
After meeting the goal I have a challenge for all my friends and readers!  Because the dollars have not come in like I was hoping, I am going to post on my Facebook pages and my website and click into my blog, another Challenge for H4W For every dollar up to my $500.00 goal earned, I will add another day of sit ups (500).  In other words, I am willing to make this a life change and I want others to know they can too and help make a difference in the life of a warrior by your generous donations.  
Perhaps you too will want to take up a life changing challenge too.  My warriors have laid down so much for me, it time to honor them with my sacrifice.  See you at the fair! 

Love my warriors! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Painting Series is on the Move Again With a Challenge!

What a wonderful month July has been.  Cpl Forest Blair, USMC is training at Pensacola, FL for his new MOS, (Military Occupational Service) in Avionics.  Rachel is visiting her family in Ohio.  It's great to be a Marine Momma and see your kids enjoying life.  My older son Michael is growing all kinds of summer you pick fruits at Abbott's and Meg is working in her financial field.

 I had the pleasure of teaching 10 students in the High Peaks area 2 weeks ago.   Just as I got back from my fifth annual Adirondack Adventure plein air painting (on location), I received a request from the Fine Arts Coordinator at the New York State Fair to demonstrate one of my paintings.

I am in the final stages of "Our Kids Meet Their Kids" and will be demonstrating on this painting on August 29th, Veterans Day at the NY State Fair in the Women's Building 3rd Floor Fine Arts from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm..  I will have a few of my paintings with me to present and at one point in the day, I will be able to sell some of the poster project prints to help the series move its message around the country.

As a personal challenge I have entered in with the Hope for the Warriors "Challenge for the Core" in the 31 days of August where I will do 250 sit ups a day and raise money to help their efforts in taking care of our Warriors that have suffered injury in battle and some that are dealing with PTSD issues.  If you click into the link here you should be able to get to my webpage with Hope for the Warriors and donate directly to help them in my name.  I am trying to raise $3,000.00 to help their efforts.  This is the group I presented to at their Gala affair in April down in DC.  Please consider a generous donation.  You can read more about what they do on the website you click into

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Update on painting called "Our Kids Meet Their Kids" and a start on a dog handler - Danny"

Color block in oil
Second photo
Lots of painting during this month.
This one has taken some time to figure out the title.  So many times my paintings teach me more as I work on them.  I asked God to give me the abilities and I would tell their stories.  I think He gives me the stories as I go too.  Cpl Chris Leonard sent me this photograph for a painting.  The long hours of patrols in Afghanistan are tempered when these Marines took a break one day.  Reaching across to these kids; our kids were making a difference in their lives.  If they could just know the kindness of a stranger and see their highest hope was to bring a little bit of joy into their young and very different worlds, then maybe, just maybe, their world could be different.  Afghan children out in the remote areas of the Helmand district have very little.  A digital camera is kewl.
 I do not know the name of the Marines sharing this moment, but I can surmise the one holding the camera is probably a dad.  He connects with them like they were his kids.  So the title is quite naturally called, "Our Kids Meet Their Kids".  There is much detail to work on with this oil painting and more to come.  

It took a while to get an image up on the computer for the dog handler.  His name is Danny and his Grandpa works with me.  If he is any thing like Pat, he is a kind and patient man.  To be dog handler takes a special kind of patience.  All the training is not hinging on the Marine, it is in the balance of Marine and the dogs ability to work together as a team.  This will be an Acrylic where I will use metals and strong colors that illuminate from behind them.  For now you will see the drawing that I have frozen in clear gesso so the pencil does not mix with the paint.  I am using a palette knife for the most part rather than a brush to give it a layered, textured look.  There will be more to come on this one too.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I have been thinking a lot about Kyle and your journey as a gold star parent. The purpose of thewe paintings is to bring about an awareness of what our guys go through and what it is like for a parent standing behind them. The war is ending in Afghanistan for us. Our guys are coming home, and want America to know what has happened. What they did and how important it is to understand their sacrifices and those who sacrificed all. I would like the painting of Kyle to 
show how he would have liked us all to carry on..

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Tribute for my Warriors and a New Start on a Dog Handler Painting

Memorial Day Weekend.  What does it mean to you?  As a civilian it was a weekend off and a day of parades (couldn't wait to see the bagpipers) and traveling around with my parents to lay flowers on grave sites.  But in 2008 my son said yes to the Delayed Entry Program for the Marines and life changed with Memorial Day bringing on a new meaning.  I had one question to Forest as he told me his life plan.  It had not been a total surprise as Forest had been looking at Engineering schools and the Marines since he turned 13 years old.  My question, "Why do you want to become a Marine?"  Immediate answer, "Because I want to make a difference in this world and make it a better place and when I am done, I want to go to school, debt free."  My response, "Good answer."  We have to stand behind our children's dreams.  I have seen parents refuse and stand in the way of their dreams.  I have seen the results.  Opting to be proud of their decision and help guide them is the best a parent does in letting go.  Forest signed, earned the title of a "United States Marine and I joined with the parents in earning the title "Marine Momma".

Made into a painting called "Grief" commemorating the Burial  Service of  Lcpl Gabe Rainy
Lcpl Gabe Rainy in the wheat fields of Afghanistan
Corporal Forest Blair, USMC has never ceased to amaze me.  I am truly a blessed Marine Momma, not only to my son but to the men and women I have met through these years who have moved me and inspired me by their valor and commitment to each other and the Citizens of the United States.  Now I pay attention to the faces of those who gave so much as they remember those battles that shaped them.  Their eyes tell me stories without a word whether they are standing in a crowd or a color bearer in full dress uniform.  All I can do is to take in this weekend and find the things I can do to honor them and the families that stand behind them.  The parades, I cheer every Veteran that marches by.  I go to the ceremonies that lay garlands by memorials.  I contacted my Gold Star parents and remembered their sons.  I have watched on television Gary Sinise give honor and respect to all Veterans.  Last night I stood in the crowd as the Watchfire lights and respectfully retires flags that myself and so many wrote on in remembrance of those who did not make it home.  We will never forget.
Lcpl Gabe Rainy, USMC KIA June 2010

Cpl Kyle, USMC KIA, Afghanistan 2011
My Gold Star Parents hold a special significance in my short Military life.  Penny Riley remains close in my heart and I contact her often.  Through her a breast cancer survivor after Gabe was KIA, I have learned adversities of life make you stronger.  She may not feel it but her strength has truly been born of fire for as much as she has lost her son, she has walked with dignity and grace as she has met every challenge.  My more local Gold Star parents are Rick and Lorie Schneider who lost their son Cpl Kyle Schneider, USMC KIA in July of 2011.  He will be one of my paintings coming up, my only portrait in the series that will honor his life.  His parents determined to never forget his stating, "Momma, Its my turn to make a difference".  "Its My Turn" became a by line to the Corporal Kyle Foundation, helping  people in tha many ways that Kyle would have helped.

 It has been an emotional journey for them and the Syracuse Marine Parents group that has watched Rick and Lorie walk through their journey of turning grief into their son's by line, "Its My Turn".  In the last few days the Baldwinsville Post Office has gained a new Name.  It is now called by its new name The Cpl Kyle Schneider Post Office of Baldwinsville NY.  At the dedication there were several Political representatives and Postal employees, along with the Baker High School's chorus.  The director of that Chorus has inspired many a high school student to compose their own music and they premiered "Its My Turn" in Kyles honor, (my son Forest was in his choir during his high school years).

There will be more to come about my next painting.  For now, I am off to my parents for some burgers and one more parade!

So, from the bottom of my heart, Thank you my son, my Veteran's, my Military Family.  You are remembered this Memorial Weekend in every way, I give you honor.

Sharon A. Blair, Proud Marine Momma of Cpl Forest Blair, USMC and Artist


Saturday, May 11, 2013

"An Evening at the Gala"

Finally back on the blog after two weeks of moving and not being able to get on my computer, I am back.  Sorry this took so long.  The website is going to be updated and work the way it should in the next few weeks.  Hang in there for that please!

First off, here is the news about Hope for the Warriors Gala Affair at the Andrew Melon Auditorium April 17th.  What an awesome experience to be on Constitution Ave with so many heroes.  We were all there to celebrate and tell their stories.

My paintings were at the entry ways for all the Gala Affair's guests.  I was able to take so many through the paintings and tell the stories behind the paintings.  One of my first guests to take through my paintings was Gary Sinise and his lovely daughter.  Just in case you wondered I personally have met three actors in my life.  The first was Timmy with his co-actor Lassie (which is the reason I have moved- to have a collie that I would like to train for Clear Path for Veterans with PTSD).  Robert Dinero, while I did not meet face to face I did take care of his guest room where I was a head housekeeper at The Point. For Gary, I was most impressed at how humble and truly gracious he was.  And his daughter was so sweet.

Many others were there and I was so humbled to be counted among such a wonderful group who shared the thought to pay it forward and make a difference for those who sacrificed so much for our country.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hope for the Warriors Gala Affair

Hope for the Warriors Gala Affair in Washington DC is next on the travel board.  I will send in more as I go along.  Hoping for the best.  I will be donating some prints for the Gala and telling their stories.  I know that will help Hope for the Warriors.  They are helping our Wounded Warriors get their lives back.  Hoping to see some people in DC at the Smithsonian's Traveling Exhibition Service to get out to America what their heroes are doing.  I will add more to this post tonight.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Such a Wonderful Evening With My Heroes

I am such a fan of my heroes
Monday the 18th was a great night to share with the Mayor and Veterans of Rome for a presentation of "A Military Experience - A Parent's Perspective" at the Rome Art & Community Center.  In attendance were the Marine Corp League, a representative of the VFW Rome division and the Mayor of Rome.  Had invited many elected officials.  That's okay.  I got the best.  Joseph R Fusco Jr. is a Mayor passionate about his Veterans in the community in which he lives.

I have to admit, I am such a fan of my Heroes.  When I was at the Modern Day Marine Expo last year, one of the Marines that have been so special to me, retired St Maj Joe Houle, USMC is one of the coordinators. Every morning there was a special event before the tents were opened.  He would come and get me and I thought I would just sit in the bleachers to view the events.  Joe would escort me to the tents.  I remember him whispering, "Go sit up there in the front".  I remember walking up front, only to discover that I was sitting 7 seats away from the Commandant of the Marine Corp with a front row center seat to see the Presidents Own Marching Band and the Silent Drill team.  How cool is that!  With every event I attend, I feel unashamedly a fan toward all my heroes
We parents are so proud of these Warriors.  - Amy Borio-Alts'
son who had just returned from Afghanistan
Bill Magnarelli and John DeFransico were working on budget issues in NY and Dan Maffei and Chuck Schumer were involved in other commitments in Washington. I will get a little closer to them next month and more Veterans with the Hope for the Warrior's Gala Affair in Washington DC.  Thank you my Veterans for all you have done.  It is such an honor to humbly share my best with my heroes.

Thank you to all who I have share with so far and God Bless my heroes.

More to come America!  More to come.