When New Baltimore resident Alaina Kiehl, 13, thinks of the state of Michigan, many symbols come to mind: apple blossoms, the white-tailed deer, Petoskey stones, red robin, brook trout, painted turtle and the Scots pine tree.
So when two of her aunts suggested she utilize her drawing talents to draw a painting for Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2016 State of the State program cover contest, she had plenty of ideas. She drew the state of Michigan and, within its confines, every symbol that reminded her of Michigan.
“I was trying to accomplish something perfect so that I would not lose,” said Alaina. “I was pretty confident.”
Alaina then submitted her painting to the contest and waited to hear if she had won. The top five designs, judged by their creativity and originality, were announced through Snyder’s Facebook page on Jan. 5. The winning design was determined by which one received the most “likes” on Facebook by the end of the day Jan. 8.
And by the end of that day, it was clear Alaina’s artwork had won. She received 5,254 likes, much more than the other four contestants.
As winner of the contest, not only was Alaina’s painting featured on the cover of the 2016 State of the State program book, Snyder’s sixth annual, she was also given the opportunity to meet with the governor and ask him questions.
She said she asked friends and family for any questions they would like answered from the governor before she met with him. She asked if he likes the movie White House Down, if he likes to read and, if so, what kind of books he enjoys, what sports he likes to play and if he has any artistic talent.
“He’s nice,” she said. “I learned that he likes to water-ski and that he has no artistic ability.”
Alaina, who attends Anchor Bay Middle School North, has a twin sister named Sydney and an older sister named Julienne. She said she loves painting and has been taking private lessons for about two years.
“I like the smell of paint and I like the texture of paint and how it can lather all over a surface,” she said. “It’s just fun.”
Sarah Cormier works for the Macomb County Executive Office, often contributing to the Make Macomb Your Home blog.