Vacation Paintings Delivered: ‘Babes on Bikes’, ‘Kyra in Repose’


The Story Behind My Vacation Paintings

It all started with an accidental party crashing, and ended up with my finding some wonderful new friends and creating a series of memorable vacation paintings. My adventure began 10 years ago when I joined the Port Bay Hunting and Fishing Club in Rockport, TX. I signed up to attend the Ladies Fishing Weekend that was advertised on the activities calendar. The only problem was that when I arrived, it quickly became evident that this was not a public event. The contact person, Liza, who had so enthusiastically encouraged me to come, was actually holding an annual private getaway with her favorite girlfriends!

I felt like a complete idiot! However, every one of these amazing ladies acted as if they were thrilled that I had arrived to join the group! [This reminds me of a favorite saying “You don’t meet a new friend, you recognize them”.] Anyway, it was a fabulous time and when the horse I picked won the Kentucky Derby and I was awarded their Derby Trophy, the “deal was sealed”. I HAD to return the next year to pass on the coveted Trophy to next year’s winner!

Group Vacation — Paintings, Wine and Travel

One of my fascinating new friends was Kyra Bowman, and a couple years later at the annual Ladies Fishing Weekend, she mentioned that she was taking a group of travelers to France. She had gotten a sudden cancelation and there was a single opening in the tour group. Well, I thought about it on the drive back to Austin and wrote her an email, saying that I would really like to go to France with her but I couldn’t possibly go without my travel buddy — cousin Karen.

Kyra wrote right back and said she just had another opening and we were IN! We had a great French vacation and took lots of photos, which I used to create several vacation paintings when I got back to Austin. Now fast forward a year and a half and another group trip with Kyra — this time to Italy. This time the group was all women, and we quickly became best friends. My companions were from all over the country: Texas, California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida. They were all so much fun and and just seemed to be celebrating the moment no matter what we were doing! We were all about the same age, with grown kids and lots of life experiences. We all love wine and travel and I just don’t know how to explain the great bond we feel.

I do know that after that trip we had a reunion in Austin, and 14 came, missing just one. Then six months later we had a reunion in California and all 14 came — plus Rosie who was supposed to have been in that original bunch, I am sure. Last month we had a reunion in Comfort, Texas (all 15).

Vacation Photos => Vacation Paintings

Have I lost you yet? How does that lead to this photo of two ladies holding the vacation paintings? Well, at the Comfort reunion, four of our ladies took off on cute turquoise bicycles for a tour of town. Denise took the cutest photo of the other three, Kyra, Cheryl and Sue. When I saw that photo I knew I had to paint it. Well, when I notified the subjects of the painting that I had preserved that historic moment in one of my vacation paintings, Cheryl snapped it right up! Kyra was disappointed, but asked me to do another painting from a picture of her in the Provence countryside. Rosie was reminded that she wanted me to paint a picture of her grandson and voila! — I had three commissions from dear friends I met through the most circuitous chain of events.

Oh, and I also painted a picture for Doris last year — peach and green colored hydrangeas from her garden. I am so so grateful to all these dear friends for supporting my art endeavors and inspiring these vacation paintings. It is a wonderful feeling to create something and have it received with such enthusiasm. Thanks to ALL OF YOU out there who have encouraged my journey with your kind words. It means the world to me. Gratefully yours, –Valerie

About Valerie Rawlings

Austin, Texas oil painter focusing on portraits, landscapes and still life paintings
This entry was posted in Figure Studies, Paintings of Women. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Vacation Paintings Delivered: ‘Babes on Bikes’, ‘Kyra in Repose’

  1. Kyra Bowman says:

    WE are the lucky ones! I feel so lucky to have such a wonderfully creative friend!
    Thanks for all your lovely comments.

  2. Sue Douglass says:

    I love your stories! I also love both the paintings, just sick at heart I don’t have one. Soooooooo – we’ll have to work on a photo from either Santa Fe or Maine that will be all mine!!! I do love your work!!


    • Oh, Sue you are so kind! Thanks! I would like nothing more than to capture some interesting photos of our group. I tried to cut and paste a picture of ALL of us under the gazebo in Comfort. After about an hour of making copies and cutting out little figures, I realized I just didn’t have enough variety in poses and angles and some people I didn’t have at all. I want it to look like a wild party, not a posed thing, you know? If I do 15 of us, we are going to have some people from the back so they would need another version where all the “backs” were “fronts”. It gave me a headache. I am going to try for small groupings in Ojo Caliente. You are so photogenic, I am sure I will have a good shot with you in it!