Monday, April 13, 2009

This is Mike

Can you believe I was extremely shy as a child?  I was probably perceived as rude when people talked to me and I responded by hiding behind my mother clutching her skirt like a curtain over my face.  That probably looked pretty ridiculous when I was 16.  Just kidding!  Actually I was extremely shy until I was about 12 dropping the skirt camouflage at around 3 and turning to looking down and shuffling my feet.

Now I am extremely comfortable talking to anyone about almost anything.  This was developed when I was a street cop and an Internal Affairs Sergeant.  Needing to establish instant rapport sometimes meant the avoidance of fighting or resistance by the contacted party.

I still am that way.  I'll talk to the grocery clerk, or the guy helping to fix my phone.  [and no, I am not that type of person who talks to just anyone on the street or to birds in the trees]  Sometimes I find it challenging to find some common ground or areas of similar interest and every once in a while, I'll realize early on, they don't want to be bothered.  On the other hand, more often than not, I'll find someone that has lead an extraordinary life.  

Mike was one of our transports.  After two days on the road with him.  He shared with me and my partner his troubled childhood,  his innate talent and success as a professional skateboard performer in Las Vegas as a teen and how it was squashed early on by being placed in a foster home because of neglective and abusive parents.  Drugs helped him cope but then lead to two jail stints.   Now he was trying to start anew with a new girlfriend and young children.  He turned himself in for a charge he claims he is innocent of.  This took him away from his 4 year old daughter and 2 year old son but he sees this as an opportunity of wiping the slate clean.  My partner and I have the same philosophy of  the possibility of change and setting a new course no matter what life dealt you in the past.   Hopefully we both encouraged him that things will get better and he will return to be a positive influence on his children.

What Mike did for me was remind me how important my role as a parent is no matter how seemingly brief my time with them is.   Even though my budget has me eating cereal and peanut butter sandwiches near the end of the month so my kids eat better, it is much better than what life in jail or prison is.  I can choose when to eat, what to eat, when to sleep, shower and able to go outside when I want for as long as I want.  The fact he savored the fresh air when we had the car window down as we were driving underscored the fact the little things do mean a lot.


[this is watercolor, pen and gouache on a 8x10 Fredrix watercolor board]

22 comments:

Carrrie Jacobson said...

Hey, Sheila, nice painting and a lovely piece of writing, too. And a fine lesson learned and taught.

Also, I love the landscapes! Wow, gal, you should do more of them.

And how great that we have been honored by Akiko. Her paintings are absolutely marvelous.

Glad you're home. And safely.

xo

dominique eichi said...

Sheila, this piece is fabulous, your choices of medium here are great. Really well done and the story behind this piece is also great. We can get the life lesson from anywhere if we care to look . HUGS

Paintings by Irit Bourla said...

OMG I love it. Great job my Sheila.
The story an dthe painting both great.

Michelle Burnett said...

What a great story. You are such a great mom too!

This is such a great painting in so many ways...I love the color palette and the fabric and skintones and rendered so nicely.

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Very interesting subject especially without the head and with the shackles. A statement is made about the subjects life right away but the clasped fingers begin to tell more about his emotional state.

The Bull said...

From steak to tuna fish, eh? :) Great little painting and life lesson!

Gary Heller said...

Great commentary and sentiment behind the painting.
I love the rich colors and contrast of the subject/background. What strikes me here is the essence of the subject. Although in shackles he does not appear to be a bad person and there is much hope and an air of possibilities for this person.
Fine work

Dominic Philibert said...

Thanx Sheila!!
Hahaha!
I'm simply drinking chocolat tea!!!!!!!
And eating to much cookies!!!

L.Holm said...

Hi, Sheila - This is great! Interesting cropped figure (ala Irit), and extra meaningful to learn he was one of your transports. You have so much heart, and is shows in all you do. Blessed to know you!
Liz H.

Teresa Mallen said...

Great painting Sheila. I especially love the skin tones and your use of line. And yes, it is the little things that make everyday life so special.

Paintings by Irit Bourla said...

I am LOL from the "ALA IRIT"...
You are so kind to me.

Sheila E. said...

Sheila, I love how this has a story behind it, I just read about an artist that chooses compositions that "tell a story" this is one of those pieces. Great work! Glad you're home. :-)

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Excellent! I love how you have the folds of the clothing, not an easy task.

Manon Doyle said...

Love the painting and the post! You are a great mom and a wonderful person!

r garriott said...

Sheila, I always have to have a box of tissues handy when I read your blog, just in case. You're a ggod artist and a good writer, as well. Thank you for the compelling tale of Mike.

James Parker said...

Hey Sheila...nice work and nice story. I think most of us would probably have a little "cuff time" but just got lucky and didn't get caught. Anyway, good to see ya...been away for a few days trying to get sorta settled. And hey...what's wrong with peanut butter sandwiches and talking to the birds?

Mary Paquet said...

Sheila, great use of watermedia. I like the cropped pose that shows a respect for the person's privacy.

I'm sure you gave Mike some encouragement and some peace at time when he is trying to get his life together. Inspiration comes from many different places, be it in our art or our personal lives.

james oh said...

Glad to hear the changes you have gone through and the way you relate to your was great story and interesting. Thanks and wish you a greater success,

Edward Burton said...

Great painting, Sheila - I can see the Bourla influence.

Tracey Clarke said...

How did I miss this amazing post?!
What a great reminder for me. When I am tempted to complain and act in a selfish manner, I can think of Mike. There is always, always someon who has it worse than I do. As a matter of fact, I have it better than about 90% of the planet.

Dean Grey said...

Sheila!

The thing I love most about Mike's portrait is that there is a definite story behind the painting.

You literally brought his story to life to share with the rest of us.

Such a unique life you have and have had!

-Dean

Mona said...

Sheila, a very meaningful post. It's really interesting too about what you shared about developing the skill of being able to talk about anything with anybody.

As a long-time city-dweller I have watched cops tackle some amazing situations over the years, and usually I'm thinking as they are walking toward the person or situation: how are they ever going to work this thing out??!! My hat is off to you for having this wonderful talent, and for being so creative too.