I first heard about Keep A Breast a few years ago. I remember I saw a clip on the news about this foundation that makes torso casts to have painted and they auction them off. All of the money goes toward educating young people about breast cancer by teaching them methods of prevention, early detection, and support. It's such a simple idea but it needed to be addressed. Cancer, in any form, is becoming too common to be ignored and many other "non-profits" only address ways to cure cancer, not ways to prevent it. Having lost my stepfather to throat cancer a few years ago I saw just how horrible and ruthless the disease can be.
I also was a substitute teacher at the time and I started seeing these "I <3 Boobies!" bracelets on the wrists of several students.
My Aunt Pat died of breast cancer several years ago. It was very upsetting to me and I wanted to pay tribute to her. She was the kindest and most selfless person one could know. So I reached out to Keep A Breast to see if I could get a cast to paint. They sent me a cast and also asked if I wanted to volunteer to do live paintings in the Girlz Garage at the Van's Warped Tour. It was a great experience and I got to meet a few of the awesome people who work for Keep A Breast, including Erica Leite.
Dumb & Dumber- Cast #1
The first cast took me a while to come up with the right theme. I originally wanted to paint something deep or meaningful, but nothing inspired me. I was going to paint dinosaurs all over it as I love painting dinosaurs, but that still didn't seem right to me. So then I concluded that it has to be a caricature or caricatures since that is really what I enjoy doing the most. My brain storm was "two boobs" and then one of my favorite movies came to mind, Dumb & Dumber. Which is so fitting now because Keep A Breast decided instead of auctioning it off to take the Dumb & Dumber cast with them on tour in their Traveling Education Booth! I like to make the connection of the end of the movie when Harry and Lloyd turn down the opportunity to join the Hawaiian Tropic Bus that is traveling across the country. That cast has been all over the country now and I am so proud of it. I know my Aunt Pat and stepfather, Terry would really get a laugh out of this cast as well!
Check Yourself (Katy Perry)- Cast #2
I kept in touch with Erica and let her know I would be honored to do another cast for Keep A Breast if the opportunity ever came up. So recently she sent me two casts and had two themes in mind. This first cast would reflect their "Check Yourself" cards they hand out that explain the proper methods of screening oneself for signs of breast cancer. My original sketches for the cast were just a made-up female figure in the poses on the card, but again- I wanted to do a caricature. I instantly thought of Katy Perry for two reasons (haha)- 1) because she was the most famous person I know of that had a cast made by Keep A Breast and 2) well, her cupcakes.
Her cupcake bra is so iconic and I thought it would be a great way to imply breasts without having to show them. Plus most people could recognize her from the caricature and possibly relate to it better. The video "California Gurls" has so many great visuals that inspired me to go with the whole Candyland theme. It was a fun cast to paint and took a lot of time!
Education (Erin)- Cast #3The third cast had the theme of "Education" to go with Keep A Breast's mantra: Art. Education. Awareness. Action. Erica gave me a few key words to work with, all classic school-related ideas. I used my wife as the model for the teacher on this one. She was the perfect subject for the part as she fancies anything school-related and she's the smartest person I know! She is a constant inspiration to me, she even inspired me to put "5318008" on the calculator... spelling out "BOOBIES" upside-down. The Education cast is the first of their mantra series, I will also paint a cast for the other words: Art, Awareness, & Action.
Currently, all three casts are on the road with Keep A Breast in their Traveling Education Booth and Girlz Garage on the Vans Warped Tour! If you catch the tour this summer, stop by their tent, pick up an "I <3 Boobies" tee shirt, and check out my casts! And please, tell them Jim sent you!