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Braving the ocean’s depths to paint Titanic

Joyce Rudolph

Gayle Garner Roski’s life is made up of one thrilling adventure after

another -- some more harrowing than others.

The Toluca Lake watercolor artist has gained inner strength, she

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said, through personal trials -- battling cancer and running the L.A.

Marathon at 50 -- and confronted her fears through travel experiences

with her adventurous husband, Ed.

Her key to survival?

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“By putting one foot in front of the other, you get where you want

to go,” she said.

The couple has explored the world from its lowest points on

deep-sea diving trips to its greatest heights, climbing Mount

Kilimanjaro and the Himalayas. They’ve also journeyed to the top of

the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.

Nothing gained more envy from their friends than the birthday

present he gave her in August 2000, an underwater excursion to the

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resting place of the legendary Titanic.

Their trip began in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, where they

joined 33 fellow passengers on a voyage called Operation Titanic

aboard the 400-foot Russian research vessel, Akademik Mstilav

Keldysk. The ship has two exploratory submersibles, Mir 1 and Mir 2,

able to descend 12,500 feet below the North Atlantic to the wreckage.

Packing her paint and brushes, she and Ed took the 10-hour ride

inside Mir 1 along with Capt. Anatoly Sagalevitch. Challenges they

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met inside the vessel were its size -- it’s only 6 feet in diameter

-- only a bench for each passenger and no restrooms.

She kept her mind off possible danger, the close quarters and lack

of conveniences by gazing out one of three portholes and taking in

the undersea beauty. She found the most comfortable position was to

lie down on the bench while alternating between painting, sketching

and snapping pictures with her camera.

What surprised her most at viewing the Titanic was the way the

ship and surrounding sea plants picked up a cast of iridescent light.

Also fascinating, she said, were the fuchsia tube worms streaming up

from the wreckage.

One of her paintings is of a fish mesmerized by a blade from one

of the ship’s propellers. One blade, Roski said, measures 60 feet

across.

Upon returning home, she coordinated a picture diary, complete

with paintings of the couple on the jetliner on the trip, scenes

taken from workers on the research vessel and Ed relaxing in their

stateroom.


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