The Orwicks have been on the road for five months, painting and encouraging children in various parts of the world to paint, and they still have miles yet to go. We checked in with the globetrotting family to see what they have learned.
Lead Image: Children painting in the Studio Everywhere project, spearheaded by Portland, Oregon, painter Michael Orwick
“We are now nearly halfway through our journey, and I am happy to report that things have worked out beyond our wildest dreams,” reports Michael Orwick, the father and oldest artist in the group. He and his wife, Gabriela, and 10-year-old daughter, Elena Grace, set out in August with their concept called Studio Everywhere. “The genesis for this big trip started in the summer of 2014,” says Michael. “While traveling through Bulgaria and Greece, we came up with the idea of sharing art supplies with kids and asking them to paint self-portraits so we could learn about each other without a shared language.
“My daughter, then 9 years old, made lots of new friends, and the seeds of Studio Everywhere were laid. Slowly the idea of taking a school year off as a family and combining our three loves, art, travel, and philanthropy, took shape. Thanks to donors and sponsors, we have been able to leave large amounts of art supplies so these deserving kids can continue to create long after we have gone.”
The Orwicks have already visited Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Qatar, India, Thailand, Laos, and the United States, and they have several more countries on their itinerary, including a few in Eastern Europe. The family arranges to paint in children’s centers, orphanages, and schools, introducing art to people who may not otherwise have the chance to express themselves visually. Studio Everywhere is sponsored by some big names in the industry, but it depends on contributions, too, so if you feel moved to do so, help them via this web page.
Michael dropped a few stats on us. “Three hundred and fifty children have joined us to make beautiful and creative self-portraits to share with the world,” he says. “We’ve been on more than 25 flights to visit over nine countries, seeing eight Wonders of the World and UNESCO World Heritage sites. We’ve had more than 450 meals, often not knowing what we are ordering or eating. And there are 10 things we have learned along the way —so far.
“1. Kids everywhere love art!
- McDonald’s is everywhere!
- It is easy to make new friends without even speaking the same language.
- When you are in a new place, just walking out the front door usually leads to an adventure.
- Taking what we call a ‘Down Day,’ time to rest and reflect and recuperate, is important.
- Expectations can cripple honest experiences.
- If you can’t travel with a kid, travel like a kid.
- Too much spicy food is not a good thing.
- Accept things as not good or bad, just different.
- Most coffee around the world sucks, er, I mean, is different.”
He adds, “Bonus lesson: You can actually live out of a carry on bag for a very long time if you wash your underwear often.
“Bonus lesson No. 2: This is a quote from Joshua Becker that we read before leaving that rings more true every day: ‘Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.’”
Michael quickly adds, “I would like to make it clear that this quote is not applicable to those thinking of adding any of my art to their home — I encourage you to think of my painting as an experience, not stuff!”