July 23, 2012
Artist puts inspiration to work to benefit Washington State Parks
Where is inspiration born? For many, it’s in the stars.
So it was for Shawn Foote. On a late summer’s eve in 2010, while camping with friends and enjoying the night skies from a ridge in near Alpine Lake in the Cascade Mountains, the Tacoma artist was struck with an idea. That idea would culminate in a year-long, life-changing creative journey and, a few weeks ago, a $2,000 donation to Washington State Parks. Foote dubbed his project “100 @ $100,” vowing to create 100 pieces of art in a year’s time, sell them for $100 each and donate all funds above cost to Parks.
“I have always found my spiritual happiness out of doors,” said Foote, who teaches art at Challenger High SchooI in Spanaway. “I wanted to try to do something bigger (for parks) than what I could do on my own. And I thought, here is a way to get better as an artist while supporting a charity that inspires my art.”
It was a massive undertaking, said Foote, a former stockbroker who left the world of finance to pursue his life-long passion for art. But it evolved into much more than a fundraiser for parks, where Foote said he spends a great deal of time photographing and finding inspiration for his artwork.
“It has definitely pushed me to develop as an artist in ways I could not imagine,” Foote said. “The pinnacle gains are every bit as exciting as being able to donate the money.”
Pushing his creative energies, Foote set to work. Each of his pieces, many of which can be seen at his website www.shawnfoote.com, is unique and the styles vary. Some are edgy, some topical, some humorous. Others are wildly abstract or soulful and realistic. Marketing his art through social media, his own website and small showings at banks, restaurants and cafes, he priced the pieces affordably and set a deadline of one year to finish and sell them to inspire art lovers to buy them quickly.
Before long the orders came in from around the country: New York, Idaho, Arizona, Montana, Oregon and Washington art enthusiasts bought the pieces, happy for the opportunity to support parks and obtain original art work, Foote said.
“It was really a win-win,” he said. “I got my work out there, got exposure and parks supporters and art lovers were doubly happy.”
The project also wound its way into Foote’s classroom, becoming a focal point for student discussions on creative and critical thinking. He integrated the process into his curriculum as a live demonstration of business strategies and practices involving creativity and philanthropy. In turn, his students echoed their enthusiasm back to him.
“I had students asking me what number I was on and how much money had I raised. They were a great cheering squad. I even had one student donate a piece of art to sell (for Parks) on Facebook.”
Foote wrapped up the project in the fall of 2011. While he did not sell all the pieces intended for parks (many are still available on his site, albeit at a higher price), he is more than pleased with the results. He hopes it will inspire others to be creative and to use their imaginations and creativity philanthropically.
“100 pieces is a lot of work, but my mantra was a lot can happen in 100 pieces,” Foote said. “My art skills evolved greatly and I will be forever grateful for the inspiration our State Parks provided me.”
If you would like be a “friend in nature” by submitting a regular blog, photos or video, or featuring the Discover Pass badge on your organization’s web site, contact Cathie Tedrick at Parks.