Works In Progress

WAVE after wave of rain and wind continue to attack the ‘STILL WILD’ Olympic Peninsula.

MEANWHILE, somewhere on the Big Island, Stephen Davis, lover of all things (and sports) water, who has been doing some crew work on a catamaran built by the famous Woody Brown; part of his job being spotting whales, swimming with dolphins (and tourists); trying to keep a low profile while surfing with non-tourists; has been working on some new canvases.  AND, as seems kind of normal for Stephen, opportunities come his way, including, partially thanks to the captain of the cat (Cap of the Cat), someone is VERY INTERESTED in… oh, yeah, it’s all in progress. YES, part of this is that Steve always seems open to new adventures.  “Um, yeah; that sounds good. Sure.”


MEANWHILE, I have some new drawings. The “Hobuck” and “Northwest Aloha (or equivalent local term) Shirt” design are probably (definitely) going to have more done to them. If you have any ideas, you can write at

Image (33)Image (32)Image (31)SO, a suggestion from LIZ, at the Printery in Port Townsend, who makes the copies and reductions, said that a common northwest greeting is “What’s up,” or any variation of that.  “Whassup?” “Surf’s UP.”  OH, and she wants a percentage. So far, it’s “percentage of what?” STAY TUNED

Skunked, Semi-Skunked, Just Plain Missed It

Not that I’m making excuses. Probably nothing is more frustrating to a surfer than the ‘could have gone.’  This applies to the time you ‘haired-out’ (retro term) and didn’t drop into a wave that, viewed from the back, broke perfectly; and to the time you didn’t go because you didn’t believe it would be ‘all time;’ and to the time you didn’t pay attention to the conditions, finding out later that a small window opened up, some of your friends hit it, and, of course, it was all time. Or maybe just epic.

Then there are the times the conditions look great, you cancel a few things, put off a few more, and go. Not epic, not all time. If you’re lucky, you can get a session under the ‘practice’ heading. “Practice for what?”

You know; for the time you’re the one who hits it right.

Meanwhile, I am continuing to work on illustrations.

Image (30)I have a couple more I’m taking to The Printery in Port Townsend today. One is of “Hobuck,” the other is a sort of Northwest version of an Aloha print. I’ll explain later. Later.

Meanwhile, if you’re cruising to the wild Olympic Peninsula, stop off at Tyler Meek’s Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange on Surf Route 101, Thursdays through Mondays. He has gear for all your vices, and some of my illustrations.

Something Other than Surfing…

…maybe that should be a question. When there are waves, or even the possibility, even (more) the probability of surf, tensions rise. Every surfer wants a chance at dealing with quality waves.  Some do, and are elated; others, for various reasons, miss out on opportunities and are frustrated. Tempers can flare.

Shit happens. Work, family responsibilities, broken equipment or vehicles, power outages, not taking a chance on iffy conditions, other shit. Shit!

And it’s not just that you (or I) aren’t committed, or committed enough to the lifestyle/sport. We rearrange our schedules the best we can, but, sometimes, we just hear about classic conditions after the fact. Sometimes we witness classic conditions but can’t, for any combination of the above or other reasons, participate.

That happens. I haven’t really  gotten over, or, at least, I still remember, painting a house on the bluff above Stone Steps, late in the afternoon, with the waves glassing-off, lining-up, and only a few surfers out. Yeah, I kept painting; felt I had to finish the project.

Still, those waves… they may not have been as great if I’d surfed them, but, in my memory, they were sooooo good.

WAIT. I’m adding this, just in, photo of Hydrosexual Stephen Davis (I was going to drop the hydrosexual part because of spam from sex-related, um, spammers, but Steve kind of likes the description/title) doing something besides surfing, work as part of the crew on a catamaran off the Big Island. OH, and he did the artwork for the t-shirt.


Anyway, I am trying to do a bit of a pivot in my career, and I’ve actually started drawing things not surf-related. Here are some examples:

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What unites us as surfers is not our performance level; it’s more that we have suffered the frustration of getting caught inside, of missing or wiping-out early on a great wave, of watching someone else wail on a wave we could have been on, of hearing about or seeing wonderful surf we can’t get into, of driving a long way to get skunked. It’s sad and just wrong to get frustrated enough to unload verbally or physically on another surfer; particularly when, if there were no waves, this would be someone you’d be chatting with; a friend.

Even the best, longest ride is short compared to real life. What we really save is the memories. I’m sure we’d all rather have pleasant ones.

And, no; all this peace talk isn’t because someone took offense with my wavehog ways. I mean, people have, not recently; it really relates to friends going off on other friends.  Friends. It’s sad. It’s fixable.

I am continuing to do a series of  landscape drawings, anxious to expand my scope. I currently have some illustrations at Helen Gunn’s gallery uptown Port Townsend, some at Tyler Meek’s  Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange in Discovery Bay, and, once Adam “Wipeout” James sees my HamaHama drawing… I mean, my friend Adam James… and, yeah, working on it. Committed. See you.

OKAY, here are the first of my Olympic Peninsula landscapes:

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From “Mistaken For Angels,” “One in the Chamber”

For “Mistaken For Angels” April 25, 2009- Edited and published on January 18, 2018

A Bullet in the Chamber

Guards and cameramen surge forward with the sound; instinctively reaching for a weapon, looking for a shot.  People duck. Politicians throw themselves backward, into the crowd. No one knows where to look. Only one camera is pointed at the victim, his prepared victory smile frozen, eyes only slightly wide in realization, sudden but complete. Final.

General Sterling wouldn’t have been allowed to wear the revolver on his waist had he not been famous for wearing it. He wouldn’t be allowed if this was his country. It isn’t; it’s someone else’s country; about to change leaders. Sort of. Sort of is the standard thing in these types of countries.

During his three tours of Vietnam, he had the forty-five, safety off, a bullet in the chamber, with him at all times. It was the thing that saved him when, rounding a corner in barely-controlled Saigon, he met a North Vietnamese regular, a soldier of, it turned out, surprisingly high rank, and, as it turned out, also packing an American-issue forty-five; a trophy weapon, bounty.

That soldier was, as was Sterling, alone and out of uniform, blending-in in his own country, just checking on what he regarded as an arrogant enemy; so loud, so obvious, smelling of scented soap and milk. He’d looked quite shocked at suddenly being face-to-face with then-Captain Sterling, half-stoned and returning from another excursion to an out-of-bounds part of the city.

It took a moment. Recognition.

“Not a gunfight,” Sterling said at what became the official inquest. They’d both pulled their weapons. It wouldn’t have even happened if the Vietnamese had given ground, gone around him. No, “He refused to step around, to even move; refused to avert his gaze.”

“Avert?” the main inquisitor, perturbed by the looseness of the proceedings and the lack of air conditioning, asked.  Looking around at the others in the room, the question seemed obviously wrong, asked by the wrong person; someone who had only heard of tragedies and mistakes and friendly fire.

“All right then, Captain… avert.” The three pages were tucked into a manila file, that into a briefcase, that closed. Nods were shared. “Guess it’s a good thing you had the safety, um, off.”  More nods. Justified. Possibly heroic. Closed.

In the moments the gunfight had taken, and, too often, after, the eyes of the man who died so close to him; surprised, then desperate, then slowly going dead, were always on him. Always with him.


Too long after Vietnam, having already returned the repatriated forty-five to the World War II veteran father of the slain second Lieutenant, Sterling returned something else, a scrap of paper with foreign words, some in French, taken from the man he’d killed in the street. He did not wear his own gun, or his country’s uniform, as he stood in the merciless sun in the middle of the awkwardly rebuilt Vietnamese village.

The interpreter was a smart-ass student, son of people air-lifted out in the last days. Born in what had been a troop training area on Camp Pendleton, Las Pulgas (The Fleas, in Spanish), the kid was slapped by the mother of the slain man, slapped and dressed-down for disrespecting the recently-promoted-to Colonel Sterling.

The interpreter and the woman seemed equally embarrassed. Sterling showed no emotion.

“Tell her,” Sterling had said, “that it’s always the wrong people who die in war.”

The woman came up close to him, looked into his eyes. A long time. Maybe long enough. Sterling refused to blink. He wanted her to see.

She touched his shoulder, backed up three steps before turning away.

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Here’s the moment I relive, replay:

Sterling, up on the platform, drops his arm, his hand still holding the pistol. He looks away from the body of the local politician’s right-hand man. This is someone not widely, at this time, known. Who he was, and his crimes, would, of course, become well known.

The assassin’s movements will be studied and discussed widely, from multiple cameras, every angle but his; including that of several of those people who knelt to help the man on the rough-sawn platform. No help.

Sterling tosses the weapon onto the man’s chest. Three men, as if suddenly able to move, almost fight each other to grab him. Their movements will look awkward, really, frantic compared to Sterling’s, on the video, images aged by constant viewings.

The General looks above the rim of buildings. The crowd is silent, but pressing forward. There is a ridge of mountains in the distance. He follows a thin line of cirrus clouds, a bit of rainbow color caught in the ice crystals.

Sterling barely reacts when the blade, held tight by the politician’s consultant’s enforcer enters, just below the sternum. There will be no explanation from Sterling for his actions. His photo will soon, but only temporarily, be taken down from its place in the secondary hallway at the War College.


Through the scope, high in a distant steeple, finger on the trigger, having waited for the order, my target pulled to safety, I follow Sterling’s last glance. From the incoming storm front, caught on the jagged edge of the second highest peak, a single cloud seems to be ripping itself loose.

I should add that the man he killed was not my target. Probably should have been, but, you must know, usually the wrong people die in wars.

Here are some potential illustrations for “Mistaken for Angels.” I’ll explain later.

New Shadows and Deep and Steep Drop

I have some new illustrations, freshly reduced, ready to add color.

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I had already done the color on the larger version of the (above) drawing, but didn’t like the blend on the lower part. So, once it was reduced, I added some more lines (and a little more color).

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I’ll add some color to other drawings, but, for some reason, I get less excited about the color part than I do the original drawing. When I get going on a drawing, and I’m pretty happy with my progress, what I seem to think about is how I can screw it up. And color is another opportunity.  So… less might be better.

Meanwhile, waves seem to be missing the Strait. Now, the coast… it’s another story.

Re-Colored Surf Illustrations Scanned and Crooked… but Tight

It’s, I guess, either get a new scanner, stop trying to add square (or, more likely, rectangular) borders to my illustrations, or just keep apologizing for the crookedness. These are two drawings that, now that I’m showing my work in two locations (and thinking about where else I can sell a few), I’ve colored; re-colored in the case of the upper drawing (the first version was too yellow).

Geez, I use these things a lot [ (parentheses) ], probably should apologize for that as well.  Anyway, my emphasis (along with expanding my subject matter) has been on tightening the work (eliminating palm-of-the-hand smudges, coffee dribbles, fingerprints on glass), and making the illustrations ‘cleaner.’

No, I’ll still have way too many lines.

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As part of this push, I have some new drawings, but haven’t been able to get them to the printer to get reduced. Yeah, if I had a professional scanner/printer… I don’t.

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Anyway, if you’re headed out to the Strait or the West End, stop by Tyler Meek’s Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange, check out my professionally-mounted prints, each one square to the frame (or, more likely, rectangular).



Discovering Disco Bay and Stink Eye on Lock

If you’re headed to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or Neah Bay, or La Push, or anywhere on the West End, and you’re not coming up from Aberdeen; whether you’ve taken a ferry from Seattle or Kingston or Keystone, or driven up the Hood Canal on Surf Route 101, or from the Tacoma/Gig Harbor area; you have to go through Discovery Bay.

If you do, or, rather, when you do; headed out with dreams of cold peelers; or headed back to civilization with memories (these, of course, vary, depending on how you handle disappointment); please check out Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange. You won’t be disappointed.  Tyler’s there Thursday through Monday, 10am to 6pm.

OKAY, my reasons are partially self-centered. TYLER MEEKS, the owner of the shop sharing space with the Discovery Bay Village Store, and adjacent to a log cabin selling marijuana products (with another one nearby in an old train car- exotic locations, indeed), has agreed to sell some of my illustrations; limited edition* prints, numbered, signed, framed; with, as it turns out, the original of this drawing, hand-colored, 11″ by 17″, also available.

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Without the lines from my scanner. *I control the number of prints, so it’s not like #3 of thousands.

I’ve known about the shop for awhile. Tyler opened the consignment shop in late summer, gathering boards and wetsuits and leashes and such, as well as gear for other (non-surf) outdoor activities. Tyler is personable and friendly, and is getting familiar with the various sub-sets of the larger surf tribe.  I first stopped in there last week, on my way home from what was a quite-satisfying surf outing (and I’m not one who writes off a skunking easily).

Discussing selling my artwork was easier because Tyler knew about realsurfers. “Oh, that’s you?” “Um, uh, yeah.” I do usually feel people are a little disappointed that I don’t seem more, uh, artist-ee.

So stoked that I’m going to have some of my work in a surf shop for the first time since 1972 (Phil’s shop in Pacific Beach, San Diego, where all the kids went through the stuff; liked them, but were saving their money for new skateboard wheels or something), I came back in Saturday morning, freshly-framed art in my arms. There were three rigs with boards on them in front (granted, one had two Costco Soft-tops, but I’m not judging…right now).

And a surfer (Joyce local- yeah, that guy) I already knew was inside, some folks I don’t know bought a wetsuit for one of their kids, and another guy I sort of know showed up while I hung around for forty-five minutes or so, mostly talking surf with Matt Butler, up for a week or so from Oregon, where he works at Pura Vida Surf Shop. “Hey, you need some surf art down there, huh?”

Anyway, I am trying to (sort of) follow the lead of Todd Fischer, formerly a plumbing contractor, who has been pushing forward in his art career for the past several years, opening a gallery in Port Angeles to go with having his stuff on display in Westport, and at various locations, including some at Disco Bay.

As (dumb) luck would have it, I saw Todd in the water on the very day I stopped in at Disco Bay. He said he’s willing to check out my work. Whoooa!

I do have some pieces at a gallery in Port Townsend; also trying to do a bit more non-surf illustrations. Here’s an example:

Image (14)Incidentally, my scanner sucks. Things are always a bit crooked. I don’t use it for printing

SO, here’s the other story: Same day I ran into Todd Fischer and Tyler Meeks.  I was out at a spot on the Strait, sitting on the hood of my Toyota, coffee cup in hand, just trying to will or wish waves into lining-up, cleaning-up, and, mostly, getting bigger. There were two other surf rigs nearby. This black van drives up, goes to the far end of the parking area. No surf boards, no tell-tale decals.

NOW, I wouldn’t ordinarily be suspicious, but Trish had asked me about the security of my cell phone, wallet, Costco list (all the important stuff) while I was surfing. I assured her it was fine. Then these four or five (I have to say) thugish looking white (again, have to say) guys (not surf-garbed at all) start climbing out from various doors, headed toward me and the private property beyond.

SUSPICIOUS. If they were doing work at the property, why wouldn’t they park there? Why was one of them in thigh-high waders when none had fishing gear? ANYWAY, one of them looks at me and comments on how I didn’t seem friendly. “Huh? Me? (that’s me, thinking). THE OTHER THUGS CHUCKLE.

THEN, when he’s almost even with me, he says, sort of to me, but mostly for his gang, “He’s got the stink eye on lock.”

IF I DIDN’T think that was memorable, if not factual; I would have been more offended. I have been on the receiving end of the stink eye. Usually I shake it off and keep on surfing. But, hey; “Me? I’m so, um, approachable; so friendly, so… I mean, maybe my Dad; he could have that kind of look; but, me? No.”

Left to Right: My daughter’s late cat, Mr Puggsley; Mr. Approachable; My late father, about the time I was born; and a drawing of an eye.  I’ve told this story a few times. Evidently, others believe I can look a little fierce.

MEANWHILE: check out Todd D. Fischer on Facebook. His new space is on 2nd street in Port Angeles. I’m working on getting some ‘tight’ art works ready.

New Year, Same Forecast

Not sure why my attempt at a New Years greeting came out so dark.  I meant to show that peace, always some tenuously-held place between mania and depression (maybe I should say bliss and depression- sounds less, um, mental); peace is always under attack.

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It’s out there; mystical, magical; like waves that shouldn’t really line up perfectly, clean and glassy; but, sometimes, they do. Hope you find a few perfect sliders this year. And if you prefer waves that are a bit scary, they’re coming, also.