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Kort Duce Blog bio picture

WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

I have been an
artist my whole life.

For the past
seventeen years I have been a professional photographer specializing in
commercial, industrial, editorial and documentary photography.

I love to tell
stories, whether it is with my camera or through my art.

With my
photography I hope to educate and inspire people. I believe the intimate
pictures of my son, in Living with Finley,
accomplishes this goal.

With my acrylic
paintings my goal is to bring a smile to someone’s face.

When
I am not creating art or taking pictures I am “Mr. Mom
” for our son Finley, 11, and my
daughter McCall, 7.

In late 2013 my
family moved to Fort Collins, Colo. after residing in Idaho for fifteen years.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Our 11-year-old son recently was diagnosed with a cluster of
disorders -- Developmental Coordination Disorder, Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
 

This is in addition to previous diagnoses of Executive Function
Disorder and delayed eye development.

We thought we were prepared because deep down we’ve always known
Finley was different.

As a baby, he cried non-stop and barely slept. We resorted to
wrapping him in a blanket in his swing. 
As a toddler and into pre-school, he struggled to talk. He learned to
ride a bike later than most kids his age and couldn’t tie his shoes until well
into elementary school.

Still, the news crippled us for a few weeks. It took that long to
digest the 27-page report from the neuropsychologist and decide how to tackle
these distinct yet intertwined disorders.

In between doctor's appointments, meetings with the school and the
normal chaos of raising two children, I am documenting Finley's life to show
what it is
 like to live with these
disorders.

Over the next few years, I will photograph Finley at home with family and friends, at school,
during extracurricular activities and at his many medical appointments. We also
will write blog posts about events, episodes, celebrations, failures and
anything else to document our family's journey.
 We hope Finley will contribute as well.

Our intent is not to elicit sympathy, compliments and such, but to
provide information about these disorders and what it's like
 Living with Finley. 

Since starting this documentary, many friends and family members
have told us they had no idea Finley struggled at all, much less had these
disorders.

But thats the thing about
neurological disorders
they arent always obvious to others. Few people know about DCD even
though the World Health Organization recognized the disorder in 1992 and an
estimated 5-6 percent of children worldwide have it.

DCD
is a chronic neurological disorder that affects a child’s ability to plan and
coordinate movement. Basically, messages from the brain are not accurately
transmitted to the body.

The
likelihood of at least one child in every classroom having this disorder is
great. Yet, DCD is often an overlooked developmental problem by clinicians.

Formerly
called “Clumsy Child Syndrome” children were often thought to outgrow this
disorder (by medical professionals until the early 1990s), but much evidence
shows that DCD continues to affect children into adulthood.

People
with DCD also tend to have other learning disabilities like dyslexia and
medical disorders such as ADHD.
  In
the medical world, they call this as having a high co-morbidity rate.

In
the United States, some research is being done into DCD. Most of the published
research originates from foreign countries, primarily the United Kingdom where
clinicians often refer to it as dyspraxia.

Chronicling our family's journey is a way for me to make a difference and raise awareness about DCD and these other disorders. I have been a professional photographer for 17 years and I hope the pictures of my son and family educate and inspire others.

New blog…

My wife, Kortny Rolston-Duce, and I have decided (with Finley’s permission) to start a new blog titled Living with Finley.

Most updates concerning Living with Finley will be published on this new blog.

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We look forward to sharing Finley’s trials and tribulations as he grows and learns to cope with living with DCD/Dyspraxia, ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and delayed eye development. We also look forward to sharing our thoughts with raising a child with these disorders and all the information we learn about these disorders. We believe all this information will be beneficial to others facing similar adversities.

Thank you for the support.

 

To Play or Not to Play…

In late September 2014 we purchased a piano on Craigslist. Our daughter, McCall, has always wanted to learn how to play the piano. McCall started lessons earlier this week from a piano instructor that lives a half mile away. Pretty convenient.

Finley also showed an interest in piano lessons. So, yesterday Finley met with McCall’s piano instructor.

 

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Finley said that he would like to learn to play the piano, but his schedule is already too busy. “You know, with OT (occupational therapy), lego robotics and run club I already have a full plate.” said Finley. I agreed with Finley and told him that we can always re-evaluate it next year.

 

Finley, grandparents and us…

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Today I found this note (below) in the bathroom with Finley’s name on it. I opened it up, read it and now I feel sad. It makes me want to cry!

Our son needs help. We need help.

Kortny and I need to push ourselves to be better parents. Raising a child is a difficult task, but raising a child with a disability is even more difficult. Throw in a few disabilities and it triples.

I know over the years I have had a hard time understanding Finley and have been quick to snap at him and get mad. I have to remind myself all the time, now that he has been diagnosed, that he has several debilitating disorders and he is not trying to be difficult. He comes by it naturally.

 

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This past weekend my parents, Ken and Cathy Duce, stopped by to visit our family for a couple days. They are on their way to southern California and went out of their way to see us. We all had an amazing time and I know Finley and McCall already miss them! I showed my father Warren Fried’s video presentation on DCD/Dyspraxia, which he said was very informative on what Finley is facing.

 

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Grandma and grandpa wanted to observe Finley at occupational therapy on Monday before they headed out.

 

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Grandma Cathy participated in a game that helps Finley sharpen his thinking skills, which helps his DCD/Dyspraxia and his Executive Function Disorder.

 

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Although our weekend seemed to revolve around family meals we actually balanced it pretty well with tons of exercise, which is great for Finley and us.

 

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My parents treated us one day to a “U-pick” pumpkin patch and a corn maze, which was a lot of fun. In the picture above, the light is bugging Finley. People with Dyspraxia/DCD can have eyes that are ultra sensitive to light. Finley has sunglasses, but does not wear them all the time or forgets.

 

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In the series of pictures above Finley gets upset with his sister, McCall, because he does not want her to lead us through the corn maze.

 

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Finley shows grandma and grandpa the new way he learned to tie his shoelaces. His occupational therapist, Tanya Bay, taught Finley the “Ninja Knot,” which is super cool. In fact, we are taking pictures and doing a short video for an upcoming article that Tanya Bay is writing for an occupational therapy journal. I’ll share this at a later date.

 

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In mid September 2014 Kortny started an award system for the kids where they receive a “chip” for doing their chores without fighting, being kind or behaving well. Once they collect 10 “chips” they can each purchase a small reward for themselves (under $10.00). They also can lose “chips” if they do not behave (talk back to adults, be mean to each other, etc…) We placed a jar in the house where they can see the progress. So far, after about one month, they have not reached that magic number. They have been close though!

 

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To help guide Finley better and to help ourselves I purchased several books yesterday on ADHD, Executive Function Disorder and anxiety. Two books are written for children. Finley and I started to read one on anxiety titled “What to Do When You Worry Too Much” by Dawn Huebner. I also started to read “Taking Charge of ADHD – The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents” by Russell A. Barkley. Initially I tried to check out books from the public library, but all the books on ADHD had a waiting list and were several months out from being available. Also, none of the books I found online pertaining to DCD/Dyspraxia are available at the public library. Kortny is going to try the library at Colorado State University.

I also made an appointment for Finley to see a pediatric psychiatrist at the Wholeness Center in Fort Collins this week and am scheduling a time for Finley to have electroencephalograhy (EEG) performed so Finley can start neurofeedback sessions. Our psychologist, occupational therapist and special education advocate have all recommended neurofeedback therapy. I also noticed there is a parenting classes through the center that I am going to inquire about.

Empowering myself feels great. I hope it helps me be a better parent… because I need all the help I can get!

 

Ann - Kort-- Any time you take an interest in what your kid is going through that makes you a better parent. It's ok for you to be frustrated as well, and you need to take time to process what is going on too. (Your coping mechanism has always been taking photos, Finley will find his.) Loved seeing your parents in these photos. Miss you guys, but this blog is helping your friends know what is going on in your life.

Toni Hall - You are making progress in your understanding of the condition Fin has which certainly will help with your handling and compassion for him, Kort and Kortny. It's a big worry but just worry about one day or one hour at a time and that will help you to not be so stressed. We love you guys.

Just Dance…

Last night, Finley turned on YouTube and started a program called Just Dance where they play music and show you dance moves. He got his sister and mom to dance with him. A couple accidents occurred that sidelined Finley and McCall for brief moments, but they still had fun._KD16030 copy

 

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Afterward, they wrestled and played in the living room before heading upstairs.

 

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Handwriting and Grip…

People with DCD and/or Dyspraxia have a hard time writing. Legibility is often poor.

 

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Modern technology like the computer or ipad is beneficial because typing permits one with this disorder to communicate much more easily. We are hoping Finley’s 504 Plan or eventual IEP plan will permit him to use a computer in class while the other students use pencil and paper.

 

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Kortny helps Finley with spelling on the computer after he had a meltdown trying to complete the assignment  because there was not enough space on the paper to write his answers.

 

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Finley’s grip shows an awkward pencil grasp. One will also notice that Finley chews his finger nails, which is one way he copes with his anxiety.

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This awkward grasp can be helped with a triangle grip and by placing a small object between the pinky and ring finger. A slant board is also recommended.

 

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Finley’s printing has improved drastically since eye therapy with Dr. Ron Bateman in Fort Collins, Colo. and by going to therapy once a week with occupational therapist Tanya Bay, Ph.D., Poudre Valley Hospital.

 

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Finley has to take constant breaks because he gets fatigued. Erasing and frustration occurs a lot because he rushes through the homework.

Finley’s High Anxiety…

Last night Finley, who was downstairs at the time, overheard Kortny tell me that the first ebola case in the United States was reported in Texas. This is scary to me, but I can process this information. Finley, who has high anxiety, ran up stairs and started to cry incessantly. “What, ebola is here! We are all going to die!” he said with tears in his eyes. Then he started to bawl. We tried to calm him down, even reassured him everything would be okay, but nothing worked. Here are a few pictures of him.

 

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I think it is time to make an appointment to see a pediatric psychiatrist. Psychotherapy and biofeedback therapy are going to be needed to combat his anxiety and his other disorders.

 

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Finley finally calmed down and took a shower.

 

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Then put on his pajamas.

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And proceeded to make his bed on the floor in our bed room, which is normal. He was somewhat calmed down, but mad at his mother. “You don’t love me,” he kept muttering. After a while Kortny retired to McCall’s room to get some uninterrupted sleep. Finley crawled in bed with me and slept like a baby.

We love him!

Toni Hall - My heart aches for Fin and the rest of you. I know he will be able to get help. He will be in my prayers. Love you guys!!

Camille garner jones - Hi Kort! Our 10 yo son deals with severe anxiety as well. 3 years ago, we started seeing a Ped psychiatrist at Primary Children's hospital in SLC as well as bi monthly counseling w a Ped psychologist and have had good results. The education we have received from both has been invaluable. We are all happier and calmer in daily situations. Thinking of you all!

Kort Duce - Camille, thank you for sharing. That gives me great hope! Looks like you are fortunate too to live in a place that has great medical services. Thank you for the support. Wishing you and your family the best! Take care.

Kort Duce - Aunt Toni, thank you for support! Love you too!

Kate Murphy - All my love and prayers to Camille and Kort... You are truly amazing advocate and I admire your love, strength and dedication.

The Arc of Larimer County…

Today Kortny and I met with education advocate Matt Cloven from The Arc of Larimer County. The Arc has been protecting civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through advocacy and education since the early 1960s. It is 100% funded by a network of stores called arc Thrift Stores.

Their services are free.

Mr. Cloven is Finley’s education advocate and is going to attend Finley’s 504 plan meeting this Friday where we will request an Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan. Besides all this, he also provided information on special education law. One book in particular, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, is an invaluable resource that provides a clear roadmap to the laws. He specifically pointed out a chapter that he thought pertained to us and our goal of getting Finley an IEP.

 

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We are fortunate to have services like this available to us.

Thank you Matt and The Arc of Larimer County!

Living with Finley…

In mid-August 2014 our son Finley, 11, was evaluated by a Fort Collins, Colo. psychologist and diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and acknowledged his delayed eye development by an eye doctor.

Prior to this Finley was evaluated by an occupational therapist at Poudre Valley Hospital in March 2014 and diagnosed with Executive Function Disorder and delayed motor skills.

After being overwhelmed and slowly digesting most of this recent information I have decided (with Finley’s approval) to document his life and show others what it is like to live with DCD, Dyspraxia, EFD, ADHD, GAD and delayed eye development.

Over the course of the next year I am going to photograph Finley at home with family and friends, at school, during extra curricular activities and at his medical appointments to combat these disorders.

 

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Having Finley diagnosed with DCD (Dyspraxia), EFD, ADH and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) is beneficial for insurance because they are medical conditions and diagnosed disabilities. This also helps Finley get the help he needs at school using his existing 504 plan and an IEP plan.

In late September 2014 Finley had a doctor’s appointment to see what medications could benefit him for his ADHD and GAD. The doctor prescribed the drug Ritalin to help Finley. Ritalin seems to be helping Finley focus better, even after just one dose we noticed an improvement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methylphenidate

The doctor also referred us to a pediatric psychiatrist to help Finley. An appointment we need to make soon. The doctor also agreed with our plan to alter his diet (one high in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates, potatoes and sugar). We are looking into supplementing his diet with Omega-3 fatty acids, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and vitamin B6.

 

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FINLEY’S HISTORY:

Kortny and I always knew something was not quite right with Finley. Maybe the fact that he was born two weeks past his due date contributed to this. Right out of the womb he was colicky. The only thing that seemed to help him sleep was being swaddled in a swing (we still have “D” batteries today that my mom and dad bought for us in 2004).

Naps never happened.

As a toddler Finley had difficulty with speech and communication. I remember one time when Kortny’s mother came to visit and Finley asked her for “Fucky Charms” at breakfast and Toy just about fell to the floor. We quickly told her that he was asking for “Lucky Charms.” Because of this and other communication problems Kortny contacted the school district and had him evaluated for speech. He went on to have speech therapy for almost a year.

Finley also exhibited signs of poor motor skills at this time. He had a hard time catching and throwing a balls.

He graduated from speech therapy, but later he had trouble reading in kindergarten. Eighteen months of Sylvan Reading in first grade and second grade was just a costly band-aid.

Holding silverware or pencils correctly was/is impossible. His penmanship is horrific. Tying shoes and riding a bike were delayed. Playing sports was/is difficult.

Eye development problems were finally diagnosed in second grade, thanks in part to my mother-in-law Toy. She was telling her boyfriend’s daughter at the time about Finley’s reading troubles. The daughter, who is an eye therapist in Billings, Montana, told her that was not a reading problem, but an eye problem. In second grade he finished three months of eye therapy and tested okay six months later.

 

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When we moved to Colorado in late October 2013 Kortny and I noticed a huge change in Finley. Yes the move was tough (on everyone), but Finley never could cope with it. Constant emotional breakdowns at school and home. Finley’s glasses broke during the move so Kortny took him to an optometrist (that specialized in pediatric eye therapy). They red flagged Finley’s eye development and recommended a more detailed exam (all day). This evaluation cost ($550.00) was not covered by insurance nor was the 3-month eye therapy session ($2400.00) that proceeded. After eye therapy (spring 2014) Finley was evaluated by the optometrist again and his eye development scores improved tremendously. He went from having the eye development of a 6-year, 9-month old child to a child with developing eyes only a year behind schedule. Pretty impressive, but the eye doctor highly recommended at least one more eye therapy session to bring him up to speed.

During our break from eye therapy we had our family doctor refer us to an occupational therapist for an evaluation. Tanya Bay, Ph.D., evaluated Finley and noticed right away that his back muscles never developed properly, which helps control your extremities. Upon further evaluation she diagnosed him with Executive Function Disorder. She meets with Finley once a week. They continue to focus on fine and gross motor skill development, along with building executive functions such as cognitive flexibility and emotional regulation.

Last winter Kortny did much research and self-diagnosed Finley with Dyspraxia. We mentioned this disorder to Tanya. She thought about it and after many OT appointments she referred us to psychologist for further diagnostic. DCD, we found out, is also known as Dyspraxia in some disciplines.

We decided to take the summer off from eye therapy (it was pure hell!) and resume this fall, but that was before our psychological evaluation. Now we are waiting until we get his ADHD and anxiety under control. We are aiming for winter 2015 to start another session of eye therapy.

 

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His psychologist writes, “It is highly recommended that Finley’s teachers and parents practice compassion and patience as he works to perform at the same level as another student without these relative weaknesses.”

 

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WEBSITES

Here are some websites on DCD (developmental coordination disorder), which is a medical condition. In some disciplines DCD is also called Dyspraxia, which is also a learning disability:

http://dcd.canchild.ca/en/AboutDCD/overview.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developmental_coordination_disorder

http://www.skillsforaction.com/dcd-and-dyspraxia

 

Here are some websites on ADHD, which is a medical condition and interferes with Finley’s ability to learn:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

http://www.chadd.org/Understanding-ADHD/Parents-Caregivers-of-Children-with-ADHD.aspx

http://psychcentral.com/lib/treatment-for-attention-deficit-disorder-adhd/0001204

http://psychcentral.com/lib/parenting-kids-with-adhd-16-tips-to-tackle-common-challenges

 

Here are some websites on GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), which is a medical condition:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/basics/definition/con-20024562

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalized_anxiety_disorder

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/generalized-anxiety-disorder-symptoms/

 

Here are some websites on Executive Function Disorder, which is a learning disability:

http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/executive-function-disorders

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/7051.html

http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2012-8-20-helping-kids-executive-functions-organization

http://psychcentral.com/lib/executive-function-problem-or-just-a-lazy-kid-part-1/0009272

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_dysfunction

 

Here are some websites on Dyspraxia, which is a learning disorder:

http://ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyspraxia/what-is-dyspraxia

http://www.dyspraxiausa.org/

http://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/dyspraxia/

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151951.php

 

Here is Optometrist Doctor Ron Bateman’s website:

http://www.optometrists.org/bateman/vision_therapy.html#devdelay

 

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So, after almost eleven years we have pretty concrete answers and solutions to help Finley. The psychologist’s evaluation of Finley is very thorough. The psychologist identified Finley’s medical conditions and has written extensive recommendations (27-page report) to help combat those medical conditions. Occupational therapist Tanya Bay is already on board. His eye doctor is on board to help Finley overcome his eye development delay. The future may hold psychotherapy, biofeedback therapy and a “life” coach. Finley will also need extra reading and homework support via a paid tutor.

 

 

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These medical conditions and disabilities seem to make our son Finley very fragile and emotional. The emotional rollercoaster is difficult for Finley and anyone around him. One minute he is extremely happy and then the next minute he is sad. He is very irritable. Frequent temper tantrums.

Occupational therapist Tanya Bay is trying to teach Finley how to control his brain and give him the cognitive skills to over come any obstacles he encounters. Finley has grown tremendously in the short time he has been working with Tanya.

Finley will always have DCD, ADHD and his learning disabilities like Executive Function Disorder and Dyspraxia (that inhibit has ability to read and comprehend like an average person), but now we have to adapt and teach Finley how to learn and give him the coping mechanisms needed to thrive in society.

We are fortunate to live in a place that has the medical resources to help our son Finley. We are also fortunate to live in a place that values education and has a progressive school system like the Poudre School District.

 

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Simple tasks such as holding a utensil is very difficult for people with DCD or Dyspraxia, but Finley is starting to do it subconsciously without us constantly telling him the proper way.

 

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I will update Finley’s progress as much as I can.

Tracie Miller - Beautiful. Beautiful account, and beautiful boy.

Christy Weston - Wow. Thanks for sharing. I had no idea he was dealing with any of this, other than Garrett says he goes to eye therapy. We've really enjoyed getting to know him (and y'all) and look forward to hearing about his progress now that you have a diagnosis.

Toni Hall - I was sad reading about Fin and his problems, but so happy that you guys are right on top and doing all you can possibly do to help him. He is such a pleasant and caring boy. I loved being around him at the lake in July. You are really blessed to be able to move to Ft. Collins where a lot of help is available. Thanks for doing the blog so that I can keep up with his progress and the programs he is going thru. There are so many wonderful, caring professionals who have a strong desire to see lives change for the best. Our love and thoughts are with you.

Erica - Thank you to your son for letting you share. I particularly like the photos that capture the typical postural representations of dyspraxia, like the one of him eating cereal and how he holds a spoon. Those are the hidden things that stand out to us as parents but no one else seems to notice. I see them in pictures of my son all the time.

Karin Holbrook - Amazing job Kort. Your dedication to your sons success is inspiring. He will love ito see this documentation later in life. This is as beautiful as your colorful artwork. You should be so proud!

Pot Chick…

“Pot Chick” was the last painting I needed to finish for my “Half-Cocked” art show at Von Tornow Gallery in Denver from July 8-22, 2014. It is one of my smaller paintings at 18″ x 18″ x 1.5″ on gallery wrapped canvas.
Pot Chick-18x18-by Kort Duce

Tracie Miller - Beautiful!

Cock-a-Poo…

“Cock-a-Poo” is my smallest creation, to date, on canvas.

It is 18″ x 18″ x 1.5″.

I am painting three canvases this size for my next show. They will hang together as a group, but not be one cohesive piece. Three separate pieces.

Cock-A-Poo-18x18-by Kort Duce-WB

 

Cock-A-Poo-sketch-by Kort Duce