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Monday, May 16, 2011

Let Me Sea

Let Me Sea - it's finally finished!!  What a journey....hope you enjoy the story, at the end you can see the progress of the painting at each stage.

To me, paintings are stories; each one is unique and special. The story doesn’t always have to be the same to each and every viewer of the painting. Actually, most art will tell a different story to each viewer, but let me tell you the story of how I came to paint this painting….

In 1996 my family moved from Canada to St. Louis, MO due to a transfer with my husband’s job. We were so blessed to move into the most incredible neighbourhood with wonderful neighbours. This being our third move, in as many years, we took it upon ourselves to get to know everyone quite quickly….having small children definitely was a helpful.

One of our neighbours was George and Marsha who had two girls, Kara and Laura. George and my husband Bernie struck up an easy friendship and we enjoyed George’s nightly visits on his walk around the cul-de-sac. George, Bernie and my boys spent many evenings at the high school football games and George along with other neighbours were always game to sit with us on our driveway for a lovely fire in our portable fire pit….even though it was sweltering hot outside. George, Marsha and the girls were very welcoming to us by opening their home and making us feel like part of the family. Christmas Eve was always more fun when we spent it with them and of course I will never forget the 2000 Superbowl when the Rams won! I think my poor ears are still recovering from that! Kara, in her early 20’s, was a lovely person to spend time with. She was always easy going and fun. I could tell she had a really good relationship with her family; she was always so kind to my kids and we had lots of laughs and fun with her and her family.

We haven’t been back to St. Louis for a few years but we keep in touch with George and Marsha. Kara and I keep tabs on each other on Facebook and I am enjoying hearing about and looking at the pictures of her boys as they are growing up. Although, there are times that I long to be back in St. Louis, Canada is home. The experience we had living in St. Louis and the people who came into our life, especially Kara and her family, have brought a richness, an understanding and a joy into my family's life that I will be forever grateful for.

Kara and Michael have a great life in Arnold, Missouri where they moved to shortly before getting married in September 2003. Not long after settling into married life they celebrated the birth of their first son, Kyle. Then in 2007, younger sibling Drew came along and the family was complete.

Kyle is much like his mom, easy going, sweet and personable. His grade one teacher describes him as a “sweet kid in class”. He is a young environmentalist very concerned about saving the earth. It’s not unlike him to pick trash off of the ground and bring it home to put into the garbage. He has a kind heart and a soft touch for animals, especially if he notices a sign about a missing animal.

Like most families, not all the children have the same personality type. When Drew came along life got a little bit more interesting. While Kyle is cautious, Drew is fearless and sure of himself. His fearlessness has already gotten him a few stitches! He may be a little bit stubborn, but he knows what he wants and is ready to get it. But he is also a very sweet kid and looks up to his big brother; wanting to do everything like him.

Like all dedicated parents, Michael and Kara work hard to provide for their family. Michael’s family owns a lighting business in St. Louis that has been in his family for over 100 years. Michael is the 4th generation to work in the business and he manages the Drafting Department, while Kara takes care of the office work. Work, school, activities for the boys all contribute to their hectic and busy life, so when a vacation comes up it is a welcome interruption.

When Kara was a teenager her parents George and Marsha and her sister Laura, would drive the 12 hours from St. Louis to the Gulf Shores in Alabama. This was her favourite place to vacation. The smell of the salt air, the sugar white sand, the pristine blue water and beautiful sea oats made this a very magical place. Kara fell in love with the Gulf Shores a long time ago, not only for it’s beauty, but also because it was place of love and romance for a young teenage Kara. It was a place close to her heart, a place she wanted the people she loves the most to experience. What better place to take Michael and their two sons these many years later!

Michael had lived on the west coast in San Diego before they got married and he had never been to the Gulf Shores. The previous vacations that they took were short vacations to Chicago, Texas and Cincinnati. When Kara had mentioned she wanted them to go to the Gulf Shores, Michael was at first reluctant to want to go, but Kara convinced him, and as it turned out it was a magical place

Michael and Kara’s family took their first vacation to the Gulf Shores in Alabama in June of 2009. They loved to stay at the Gulf Shore Plantation Resort. Not only is it a safe gated place for their young family to have a great time; there are many pools and activities to keep their family engaged. An added bonus for Michael was that the coffee shop served Starbucks!

The day always started with a much anticipated morning walk along the beach looking for sea shells. What a wonderful experience walking along the sand, watching the sea gulls and listening to their calls, while the boys hunted for their treasures. Breakfast and back to the beach for the morning was their normal routine. The boys could always be found playing in the sand and Kyle also loved to body surf. When they weren’t at the beach, or in one of the pools or hot tubs, you could find the family playing putt-putt, visiting Alligator Alley and doing various other activities throughout the day. One of Kyle’s favourite things to do was to go on a ferry boat from Dauplin Island to the condo they were staying at. Although, he was pretty worried about the whole ordeal the first time they got on the ferry, he soon realized it was pretty cool to cross the ocean this way. Evening was a special time that was spent down at the beach watching the sunset. The temperature was cooler, the breeze refreshing and the sand a joy to walk in. On some evenings it was fun to hunt for crab by moonlight.

As with all vacations the week went by quite fast and before they realized it, it was time to head for home. But luckily, Michael always had his camera at the ready and took many beautiful pictures…..memories to last a life time. Capturing the memories as your children grow is such an important part of family life; capturing the special moments of a vacation is undeniably precious. Luckily, Kyle and Drew’s parents both like to take lots of photos, but Michael was the primary photographer on this first trip to the Gulf Shores. Not everyone has a photographer’s eye, but Michael is one of those lucky people who can take a picture and it will turn out well, almost every time. Never having taken any photography classes I’d say he is a natural.

After the family got back from their trip to Gulf Shores in June of 2009 Michael and Kara received an email in August from the condo management team stating that they were having a photo contest at the Gulf Shores Plantation Resort. Michael had taken many photos and a lot of them turned out pretty good, so he decided to submit a few photos to the contest. Not expecting to win and then thinking the contest was over, it came as a total surprise when Michael received an email and found out his photo was the winning entry. Kara was very emotional and Kyle was so excited to tell everyone that “I won that!” The prize was three free nights at the beautiful Plantation Resort and a gift basket of beach goodies. They had to take the vacation between October and December 2009 but they asked if they could take it in the summer of 2010 and that was okay with the Plantation Resort management.

Three free nights, what a prize! But it just wasn’t going to be long enough, so Michael and Kara booked a few more days to make it a longer and a more memorable vacation. They were so excited and so looking forward to the summer trip. But as fate would have it, a little oil leak happened in the Gulf, which turned out to be a big oil leak. Although, very nervous about going to the Gulf while this was happening, they were bound and determined to make the best of things, no matter what they found when they got there.

The memories of the Gulf Shores white sandy beaches, sea oats, pristine water and seas gulls where still fresh in the minds of Michael, Kara, Kyle and Drew. Would the Gulf Shore be changed? Would there be dead sea life on the beaches and the water slicked with oil? These were questions on the parent’s minds as they packed for their vacation. When they got to the Plantation Resort they were pleasantly surprised that things were not as bad as an imagination or the media can conjurer up, at least not in the area that they were at. Yes, there were some tar balls and some trash from the sea covered in oil on the beach, but everything still smelled and looked the same and thankfully there wasn’t any dead sea life to have to explain to the boys.

Vacation life returned to the routine that they had established the previous June. Walks to the beach in the morning and evening, playing in the surf, hunting for sea treasures and all the wonderful activities the resort and surrounding area had to offer. On one particular morning they found out that Drew had a pretty good knack at predicting the weather and unfortunately Kara and Michael didn’t take his advice. Drew demanded that he was allowed to wear his light weight jacket down to the beach that day. The parents didn’t think that was necessary but gave into his demand and off they went. Within 20 minutes the family was running back to the covered pool as they were getting pelted with rain. They were all soaked to the bone…..except Drew!

Winning a photo contest, getting a free vacation and then having to content with an oil spill in the Gulf Shores seems like a mixed bag of emotions; but Michael and Kara’s family dealt with it all; the thrill of winning and the worry of a vacation ruined. But things turned out just fine. Tar balls and a bit of oily garbage on the beach doesn’t seem as bad to deal with as what could have been. The beach was still good to walk on most days and it was interesting for the boys to watch the clean up boats in the ocean. Then there were also the pools back at the resort to play in and friends to make and spend time with. Kyle being an outgoing sort of fellow had no trouble making friends and enjoyed spending time with a little boy named Jake from Mississippi. They would play in the pool together daily and spend their lunch time together. Kyle and Jake had fun together but what Kyle remembers the most is the southern accent of his new friend.

On the last night of the second vacation Kara remembers how special the night was; the warm breeze, the salty air. As both her and Kyle looked out over the ocean and realized that the next day they would be going home, it was an emotional moment for both mother and son. As the tears welded up in their eyes they could only hope for more of these very special moments to build memories of a life time.

Everyone fell in love with this beautiful place even with a little oil on the beach. Michael was so impressed with it all, that he hopes one day they will be able to retire there. But for now, this young family has said good bye to the Gulf Shores and is back at home. Back to work, back to school and scouts, back to their hobbies and activities, back to being a very busy family looking forward to their next vacation.

                                The Finished Painting!

Original Oil - 22" x 28"
Original Photo Reference - Michael Gross - St. Arnold, MO, USA

Some Comments - Thank you so much for leaving such wonderful comments....Memory

YOU are sooo talented! Can't wait to hear your work is in big name galleries- I know it will be there....You should be very proud of yourself. Merry Christmas to your family!
Mirella Esposito
December 13, 2010 1:23 PM

Anonymous said...
Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also….
January 31, 2011 12:07 AM

JB said...
Fascinating to follow...
November 14, 2010 3:24 PM


Margie said...

Your painting is so beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Your paintings are amazing!!!
I know someone personally that you did a painting for, of her horse. If I had the extra (extra) money I would do have one done. You work is beautiful...