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Just ducky: Finding beauty in the pandemic

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Kim Abraham was running a small art gallery and yoga studio in the Dewart Building on State Street in New London when COVID-19 forced her to shutter the bricks-and-mortar business in March and hunker down at home with husband Mattias Lundblad and son Ben Abraham.

But while others may have felt isolated by the pandemic, Abraham felt in some ways liberated.

"I decided I would pretend I was on an art residency," she said in an instant message. "I went to Bulgaria on an art residency a few summers ago, and it was the first time in my life that I had unstructured days to fill with absorbing beauty and making art."

Abraham, owner of The Kitchen Gallery, spent many mornings walking around New London and Waterford, taking pictures and enjoying the natural beauty of the area. Then, in the afternoons and evenings, she spent six to 12 hours a day in her garage studio replicating the scenes while placing a solitary duck prominently in the foreground, as if the creature were taking a selfie in various locales.

Later, she decided to let her imagination (and the duck, inspired by a Richard Russo book) fly to other, more exotic locales such as Jerusalem, Switzerland and France, while employing the same selfie aesthetic throughout. In some cases, the landscapes she created were based on friends' photographs.

And now, a little over two months later, she has self-published through the online service Adorama her charming and colorful artwork in the form of an illustrated poem, titled "Some Days, Some Times."

"The pictures convey the lonely time we are in, a little isolation, but at the same time a reconnection with nature and appreciation for the beautiful world," Abraham said in an email. "I used language that would encourage reading it aloud to children, but the message and the aesthetic will appeal to folks of all ages."

Abraham said the pandemic has been a stressful time, but for an artist who is solitary by nature, it also has provided some welcome downtime to focus and complete a project that she had long contemplated.

"I think it will be a nice way to mark this unique period we have gone through," she said. "It certainly has given me the structure I needed to stay happy and stop my worry machine in my brain."

Abraham has kept up with her yoga teaching on Zoom, where she has a loyal following, but without the art studio to run or her Thai massage clients, she has had much more time to devote to her own artwork. She estimates having completed 30 canvases, about 20 of which are included in the book.

The book follows the timeline of her illustrations from March through May, and the artwork includes pastels, acrylics, colored pencils and even magic markers. Many of the illustrations show a vivid palette full of lush greens, purples, blues and yellows.

"People call me a dreamer," Abraham said in a Zoom conference. "But you edit reality when you're an artist. You can find beauty anywhere. ... It's like I have a stained glass window in my mind. I kind of see it like that. It just jumps out at me."

Abraham said she is selling her book for $35 to anyone who wants one, though supplies are limited. For information, email ybyogikim@yahoo.com.

"I published the book by myself because I think families can benefit from it right away," Abraham said. "I painted pictures I would have liked to look at as a child, and still enjoy now, simple with lots of color."

l.howard@theday.com

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