There you are; lazily floating along in your kayak; caressing a painter’s palette in your hand as warm gulf breezes gently wash over you. Maybe it sounds like you’re dreaming that you’re at the center of a painting by Monet, but if you sign up for the Kayak Adventure: Christmas Bay art and paddling excursion this Saturday (March 28), you just might make that dream come to life.
Presented by the non-profit Artist Boat organization, the kayak adventure takes participants on a leisurely tour of the Christmas Bay Coastal Preserve, where they’ll get a casual lesson on the various parts of the gulf coast eco system before sitting back and painting their impressions of the four-hour interlude.
“We make several stops along the way and talk about the various parts of the eco system, like the function of marshes and how they benefit people in the Houston-Galveston area,” Amanda Rinehart, Artist Boat’s education program manager, said. “We’ll identify birds and have people make their own observations. We also talk about things like how estuaries benefit people and wildlife.”
Rinehart says after a brief lunch stop, the paddling artists get the opportunity to sit back and reflect on their experience before picking up the paint brushes and using water color to depict their images of the afternoon spent on the water.
“We want them to capture their experience using art, so we give them some basic instructions on techniques for using water color, and because we’re actually using water from Galveston Bay, they are literally taking a piece of the bay home with them,” Rinehart said.
Artist Boat supplies the kayaks—they use tandem ocean kayaks—along with the paddles and life jackets, although because the tour is restricted to near-shore waters that are roughly knee deep, it’s not like the life jackets are really needed, but … safety first, of course. All you have to bring is a lunch, some water, sunscreen and an appetite to take in the beautiful surroundings and convey that beauty on the canvas.
“No prior paddling experience is necessary because we start each adventure with a brief instruction in paddling,” Rinehart said. “Plus, we’re not doing strenuous paddling. We stay in the protected bays, where it’s all shallow water. The hardest thing we have to deal with is wind.”
Christmas Bay is one of the most pristine areas of Galveston Bay and is home to countless oyster beds, various other members of the aquatic world and tons of birds. Largely because of the abundance of oysters, closed-toed shoes are mandatory on the tour, so leave the flip flops on the dock.
Artist Boat was started in 2003 by nature loving marine biologist Karla Klay, a native of the Florida Keys who got a degree in art from Southern Methodist University before moving to Galveston to attend Texas A&M University at Galveston, where she earned a degree in marine biology. Seeking a way to merge her dual passions for art and science led to the founding of Artist Boat. In addition to the kayak tours, the organization presents a host of eco-art programs that serve to bring awareness of the need to preserve and protect delicate coastal areas.
The minimum age to take part in the kayak adventure is seven and the cost is $50 per person, but if you bring your own kayak, the cost drops to $25. Rinehart says the organization offers two-hour tours that might be ideal for families with younger kids. Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t have any artistic talent. There are no art critics allowed.