Imaginary Pet Makes Real Impact For Painter

Abby Jackson’s painting has become a charitable endeavor. (Courtesy photo)
Abby Jackson’s painting has become a charitable endeavor. (Courtesy photo)

The assignment in Ruth Keefer’s second-grade art class was to paint an imaginary pet. But now, two years later, Abby Jackson’s painting has become so much more.

Over the past 18 months, Jackson, now a fifth-grader at Parish Episcopal School, worked with Keefer to recreate that painting on a large scale and has now donated her work to Medical City Children’s Hospital.

“The fact that it was going to Medical City made me want to finish it,” Abby said. “It’s kind of like Candy Land. It’s happy and I think it will cheer the other kids there up.”

Meeting after school for two-hour periods, Jackson blew up the original painting, a task that Keefer admits was on a sixth-grade level.

Keefer, who teaches kindergarten through second grade art, has a background in donating her own art to local hospitals. After her husband was a patient at Baylor Heart Hospital, she recognized the need for hospitals to provide a positive environment for waiting loved ones.

“From experience of sitting in a hospital waiting room and feeling so distraught, it just made me happy seeing all of the colors and I think that giving back is so important,” she said.

Nicole and Sheryl Jutras, Parish parents and art volunteers, helped place the art at Medical City Children’s.

For Abby’s mother, Alyson, the one-on-one time that Keefer volunteered to help her daughter made all the difference.

“Abby always seems so happy and peaceful when she’s painting. We’d been looking for somewhere she could really see what she could do without being rushed,” she said.

Abby, who first started exploring painting with her grandmother, knew the artwork was finally finished when, after months of having paint cover the whole canvas, there were no more details she could add.

“I just like that you can make mistakes but you can make them look better, so they aren’t mistakes anymore,” she said.

Art from Keefer’s classes is viewable online through Artsonia, an electronic kid’s museum.

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