Post Title – Friday Friends: Rose Kamma Morrison.
I first met Rose on Facebook. She was one of twenty-eight individuals sharing her story in an Usher Syndrome anthology called Walk in My Shoes. She is also a talented artist and photographer and provided the cover photo for this groundbreaking anthology of memoirs. Years later, a member of my RP Support group shared a post featuring a gallery of artwork in which Rose had competitively submitted her work to. As I scrolled through the collection of her paintings, I marveled at her artistic creativity. Finally, by chance, I listened to a Canadian Running Magazine podcast that featured Rose as a highly-motivated runner using a virtual running app called RunGo.
I initially asked Rose to be a featured guest because of her artistic talent. But I quickly realized I knew Rose from the anthology since both our stories appeared in the book – and like me, she is also a runner. What a diverse guest! I am so excited to interview her for this month’s Friday Friends.
1. What is your background?
I grew up in a small town, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada – went to college, at first to study art and then changed to management (this was SO not me, but it was something that was recommended to me at the time because of my Usher Syndrome 2a).
2. What interests and hobbies do you pursue?
I am a runner, hiker, cook, baker, gardener, photographer, writer and artist.
3. What type of work do you do?
Artist – currently working with a team of authors (throughout the US) on their book covers. I really enjoy doing this. The process is fascinating. I ask each author to give me keywords or a paragraph describing their story and then I create a picture for each of the stories in the book. Sci-Fi/Fantasy is a genre, which is something very new to me. Can’t wait to see the book when it goes on the shelf. I also have a commissioned piece coming up along with two art shows to prepare for.
4. Do you enter any contests with your work?
I have been in several art shows since 2010 – in Illinois, California, British Colombia, and Ontario, and was voted “Most Popular” in a recent art show on Vancouver Island. I am getting ready for a couple of art shows this fall.
5. How do you approach a new project? What is the typical process?
Depends on the medium: pen ink, acrylic and watercolour, I use the photos that I have taken for inspiration from our travels, hiking, nature and experiences. When using alcohol ink, my imagination goes to work here; I let the inks flow into its natural form and then with alcohol and tools, I manipulate the movement of the inks to create more defined lines and shapes of how I want it to look like. It is abstract and unpredictable, which makes it a fun medium to work with. I often use my iPhone or iPad to take a picture of my work so I can see all of it and check where I need to add colors or fix an area.
6. What is the most challenging part of your artistic journey?
Generally, my art pieces are small because of my periphery field of vision, but that is changing – I hope with the continuation of using my iPad or iPhone, I can expand that horizon. Currently the biggest piece is 11″ x 14″. I just bought some larger canvases to try, can’t wait. Failure is a fear of mine when creating art, but I am learning to let that go so I can go big! Another challenge is to be less self-critical of my art – it is sometimes difficult to see what others see in my art. Learning to like your work, no, love your work is like learning to love yourself. A challenge for sure.
7. What is the easiest part of your journey?
Ideas. Sometimes I think my head is going to burst with all the ideas and it seems it will take more than my lifetime to accomplish. It seems the wheels never stop turning, especially when I am out running. For some reason, I find it easy to create titles for my pieces, which I know some artists struggle with.
8. What is a typical day like for you?
A morning run, walk or hike (walk or hike with my husband and dog, Dudley) and I try to get into the art studio for a couple of hours. When the weather is cool or miserable, I love to bake filling the house with the smell of sweet goodness. When darkness falls, I tend to relax with my husband, enjoy a glass of wine, watch some tv. Pre Covid-19, we traveled a lot, through Europe, Australia, US and across Canada – this would be typical for a few months of the year.
9. How have your other jobs in life contributed to your life as an artist?
I ended up being a paint consultant and interior decorator, which was an opportunity that was offered to me from a job that I was in. It was a natural fit for me. I especially enjoyed teaching people who create different faux finishes
10. How has Covid-19 changed your art?
Lock down and isolation really gave me a lot more time to paint. It also changed how I do art by being creative with the supplies on hand and recycling. In fact, recently did a commissioned piece in tactile form. A client has a mother who is blind and was a quilter (had to give it up due to blindness), so I asked the daughter which is her favourite quilt. From there she sent me some pictures of her quilt and drew up my ‘study.’ I had planned to used different textures using modelling clay to apply on canvas. My problem was having the access to these products (at the time of lock down), so I improvised. I crocheted a long chain using dental floss and glued it onto the painted quilt to outline her design of the quilt. Found buttons that were high contrast, and shin, matching as closely to the colours of her quilt. The painting was a success. The following month, the mother received her gift painting from her daughter and she recognized her quilt! I was so thrilled, it was truly heartwarming to know that with a little creativity, I was able to give her the gift of touching her quilt on canvas.
11. What is the one thing you miss during lock down?
I miss traveling and getting together at socials (RP Socials in particular) Editors Note: Rose is talking about a specific group of people with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) who plan a big get-together once a year for 4-5 days, each time in a different US city.
12. How do you stay positive in the world today?
In general, I have a positive outlook on life, And I am fortunate to have the support from my husband and daughter. Life is challenging for everyone. To me going blind is not the worst thing that can happen. Losing hope and fear can stop you from doing amazing things. I believe in setting yourself some goals. Getting there gives you hope and conquering it gives you the courage to continue.
13. What are your artistic goals by the end of 2020?
I hope to be able to do a residency one day, but I don’t see it happening for 2020, but realistically, my goal for right now is to send art pieces to random people whom I have never met. So far, I have sent a piece to a woman in Texas – just so I can see her smile.
14. What message would you like to leave with my readers?
If you have a passion pursue it, regardless of your physical limitations, let the challenge define you, not the disability. I don’t look at myself as deaf-blind, the term really is just for society to understand what I am, not who I am. My mantra is: My horizon is broader than my tunnel vision. If you are stuck somewhere in your life, reach out, find a way to adapt – achieve and conquer. You are stronger than you think.
To connect with Rose, check out her social media links:
Rose Kamma Morrison was born with moderate to severe hearing loss. Later, at sixteen, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (Usher2a). She started in deaf school and by the age of six, was mainstreamed into regular school. She graduated in 1983, then attended college for two years majoring in art and English and completed an Office Management degree. Now she is retired from being a paint consultant / decorator. She is married to her wonderful supportive husband Chris Morrison and they have a daughter, Emily. They traveled extensively in the last few years, knowing that her vision is dimming. They sold their house three years ago and lived on the road for two years – drove across Canada, living in Airbnbs, hotels and tents, flew to Europe and Australia, and sailed to Alaska. What an adventure! Rose ran fourteen marathons, two triathlons, kayaked, and rock climbed. There was no challenge left unturned. They are looking to sell their home again as they continue their life as an adventure.