When Adrienne Black of Jacksonville started painting as a hobby, she had no idea that her talent would be used to change the lives of children around the world.
But all that has changed. Her oil and mixed-media paintings have become vehicles to raise money for children in Africa and Haiti.
"I felt an overwhelming need to help out in any small way," says Black, a recent Southern Oregon University graduate who works as a graphic designer at Blackstone Audio in Ashland.
Although the painter dreams of someday owning her own gallery, she didn't think about selling her artwork when she began.
As a child, she says, she loved to draw. At age 11 she started taking painting lessons from Gabriel Mark Lipper of Ashland.
"She was my first student," says Lipper, "and I was impressed by her discipline."
It wasn't until Black stopped taking lessons and started painting on her own that she realized she had ability. All she needed was inspiration.
In 2006, Black went to Africa with her family and visited Bridges Academy, a boarding school for children with or affected by AIDS.
"The children inspired me," she says.
After a second trip to Africa in 2008, she picked up a paintbrush and started putting her impressions on canvas. The people she met during her trips inspired her first set of paintings — what she calls her Africa collection.
Black sold every painting from her Africa collection at her art shows, and she donated 100 percent of the proceeds to Bridges of Hope.
"I really wanted to bless Bridges Academy," she says, and her wish came true. She raised enough money to support an orphan for an entire year at the boarding school.
Not long after the Haiti earthquake, the torrent of devastating photographs coming from the Caribbean nation inspired her to again use her artistic ability to help.
She plans on donating half of the proceeds from this Haiti collection to Child Hope International, a Christian organization that sponsors children affected by the Haiti devastation.
Her collections have been featured at The Good Bean in Jacksonville and Ashland's Lithia Springs Inn. Her Haiti collection will be shown at Terra Firma Home in Medford until June 17.
"It's all about the love of the work," says Lipper, explaining his student's success. "It's beautiful that she's doing something with heart and meaning."