Beach Home Portraits in Watercolor

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A story about a beach cabin in New Zealand

When I think of summer, my thoughts drift back to my homeland of New Zealand. Sparkling beaches, a family cabin and lots of sunshine and fun!

This is a little story about summer in New Zealand. Unfortunately this particular story doesn’t have a happy ending but the message is important for all of us.
Every year our family would head off to a beach for our summer vacation.  My three sisters and I loved waking up to the sound of waves on Christmas day and like all kids we excitedly unwrapped our presents and would then dash down to the beach in our new swimsuits, try out our beach balls etc. (Remember summer is in December down under!)  One year when I was in my early teens we stayed at beach on the east coast of the North Island called Waiotahi. Much native Maori legend abounds about this beach and coastline and I am sure it is all true. We loved the pristine wildness and mangled driftwood of Waiotahi so much that we kept going back there every summer.
All these years later, after travelling the world, I would still boldly claim that Waiotahi is the most beautiful beach in the world.  We stayed in a tiny but quaint beach cabin with bunk beds. It had no privacy and we were all on top of each other but we loved every minute of it!
Fast forward. Some years ago when my American husband, Bruce, came back to NZ with me for the first time, I took him to see Waiotahi.  We drove through the familiar canopy of native Pohutukawa trees . . .
and there it was!  It looked exactly the same. Untouched and beautiful.
Then I went to show Bruce the cabins we stayed in and take photos as I planned to capture our happy memories in a surprise portrait for my family members.  I searched and searched that stretch of beach but the cabins were GONE! Everything else was the same, the rolling hills in the background dotted with grazing sheep, and the lush green surroundings.  Then I realized that in place of those five cute family cabins was one big house plastered across the lot, looking like the mother ship had landed!  I was so upset. While I had taken endless photos of the beach and family members over the years when we stayed there, I didn’t think to take any photos of our cabin!
So what’s the moral of my story? Be sure to take plenty of photos of summer homes and cabins that you and your family love as you might want to preserve those memories in a portrait some day!
Fortunately many of my clients are a lot smarter than me so for your enjoyment I am sharing some portraits of their family summer cabins and homes that they commissioned me to create for them.
(Plus there are some bonus photos of Waiotahi and beach life in NZ at the end if you would like to see them.)
Minnesota Family Cabin
Sausalito CA
Mississippi River WI
Virginia Beach VA
Eastern Shore MD
Heathsville VA
View from family holiday home at Arrowhead CA

And if you have managed to make it this far, here are some photos of Waitotahi Beach that I took a few years ago.  Note in the photo below a father and his two kids are walking towards the water with bags to dig for dinner.

And here they are, way in the distance, in the low tide. They are digging for Pippis, a small native shellfish. That’s a typical family activity back home and we used to do it too, right at this spot.
Fortunately, the NZ coastline is still as open and pristine as it was when I was growing up. You don’t need to think about whether it’s safe to eat the shellfish!  Note the car in this photo. I observed when we casually strolled by that although the family was way out in the water, the car was wide open with the keys in the ignition.
I hope you have enjoyed a little taste of summer in New Zealand!
HAPPY SUMMER to you all!
Creatively yours,
Leisa