Not Always According to Plan

It’s a bit of a, I don’t know, irritating thing, to me, that, despite planning out an illustration, thinking it through, actually picturing it in my mind; once I check out reference material, once I start drawing… it comes out…pause… different.

Here are two drawings (please, just because of the fragility of my ego, don’t call them sketches) I finished today. I’ll let you in on what I hoped for after this:

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Simpler. I was thinking of the way photos, back in the early 70s, mostly, late 60s, were broken into three shades (dark, mid-range, and light). Psychedelic? Maybe; depends on the colors selected.  Next time. I’m kind of at the ‘still wild’ phase (“Still Wild period- not sure); and, based on advice from some guys who purchased some of my work (thanks Dave and Joey), I am kind of making my name a bit larger. I’m thinking of going with “Original Erwin.” Branding.

Ego. And, yes, Doctor; maybe doing an Orca is some pathetic reaction to Stephen Davis selling his whale painting (check’s in the mail); AND having some (quite a few) commissions for more original Stephen paintings.

Maybe a little. I have wanted to do a drawing of an Orca for a while. I also wanted to write something about a recent suicide slab session I observed, rather than participated in. I did give kudos to those brave souls who risked it, each one paying dearly for a (precious) few quality rides.  Not really wanting to be the observer, on this occasion, not participating may have been the right decision.

Meanwhile, I’m still thinking…

OH, this is the day following the above post. My new stuff goes to twitter and Facebook, and, evidently, C.L. Flint is a follower (wait, maybe he’s a Friend; and, yeah, I do know him in real life) and commented that I should finish the killer whale, as in add the rest of the Orca (he called it a fish. No). So, I did. Now, I do think it’s sort of clever to have part of the drawing outside the frame (it’s my ‘outside the frame’ period). In this case, maybe C.L. is right. Here’s a side by side:

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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.”

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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 realsurfersdotnet@gmail.com

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.

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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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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.

Surfing for Fun (and some new illustrations)

It’s not ready yet, but I’m working on a piece about forgetting Stephanie Gilmore. Actually, it’s about a few moments of surfing in which Stephanie forgot herself, her image, her contest persona, her heat strategy; forgot everything except the joy of the moment.

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It’s something we all forget when dealing with the crowds, the conditions, and our own expectations for ourselves.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of other recent drawings:

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New Age Dawn Patrol with Malmsted Dreever

These are the first pages of a… I don’t want to say comic book, not quite a graphic novel. Okay, my graphic short story of an older guy going to… hey, it needs to tell itself; and, no, I wanted the Malmsted character to be someone other than me.

Image (212)Image (213)Image (214)…and there’s more. Coming. Soon. Will Malmsted make it back to his room before… will his desire to surf overcome his complete lack of actual experience in the actual ocean? Will he rule the lineup? Why did I draw him with a mustache AND a soul patch?

 

 

With Apologies For Burning the *(Now) Unnamed Longboard Local,

…the LONGBOARDING LOCAL, who, after a tough week (evidently), paddled out at a spot, a fickle point break, where he considers himself a local, with a fairly obvious and focused attitude that he was there to surf.  I saw him paddle past me, mustache waxed, ready to rip, crowd be damned (okay, this is a judgement call by me, a guy whose motto is, ‘I’m here to surf.’)

DEFINITION- A Sociopath is someone who knows something he or she does is wrong, yet continues to do it. I’ve often thought all good surfers are sociopaths. This probably isn’t totally true, but what it takes to be good at anything is a certain competitive drive. To be good at surfing, an, admittedly, self-centered sport, increasingly, with more crowded conditions, takes a certain amount of aggressiveness. If I can stop just sort of confessing to being a sociopath, I will admit to being, at least in the water, aggressive.

John Peck, a legendary surfer, somewhat older than Erwin Dence, doing (and obviously enjoying) a bit of kneeboarding. Photo by Nathan Oldfields. Find it, if nowhere else, at mollusksurfshopscom

DISCLAIMER (Or maybe it’s a ‘claimer’) ONE- a) If you can’t walk to a spot in less than, say, forty-five minutes from your home, you’re not a local. b) If you pay to park, you’re not a local.  c) Mitt Romney is a local at Windansea, Bob Dylan at Malibu. Or would be if they surfed.  d) The guy who lives in his van is probably More Local than you.                 SO, we go to ever-expanding circles of Local-ness; the above-mentioned Longboarder Local being Local-er than I am, with me being Local-er than, well, lots of people.  AND I have been a TRUE LOCAL several times; Pacific Beach, Encinitas; AND, some credit must be given for working in close proximity to surf. ADD Oceanside Pier to my local history; I worked two blocks and some railroad tracks away for over two years. OHHH, and add Lower Trestles; I worked up the hill, with a view of the place, and drove out on the beach every working day for ten months (an hour and a half lunchbreak, a third of it legal)  in 1975.

SETTING THE SCENE- I was actually, after getting skunked (or unwilling to wait for a possible properly-aligned swell/tide/wind/crowd combination), the first one in the water on this particular afternoon. And it was working. So, yeah, hurry, gorge it up.  BUT, too soon, others showed up. First it was two guys, friendly nods followed by the guy on the bigger board totally taking off in front of me. I didn’t freak out. I did, somewhat later, return the favor. SO, Even. THEN, more surfers showed up. ONE goofy-footer was totally ripping; down the line, under the lip, a few controlled freefalls. Everyone else was surfing. I, 65 year old guy with pretty screwed-up knees, was (and maybe this seems counter-intuitive) kneeboarding, taking off farther up the line, driving across. I was totally enjoying it. A longtime local, and the best kneeboarder on the Strait of Juan de Fuca who wears fins, someone who I first surfed this spot with (with as in, he was also out) in 1979, was catching some waves, always in the barrel. Hey, he was kneeboarding.

DISCLAIMER TWO- RELATIVE AGE OR LONGEVITY in the sport aren’t valid arguments for any kind of preferential treatment. They never have been.  Having said that…                                                                                                                       DISCLAIMER THREE- THE DISPARITY in surfing equipment is an issue that contributes to tension in the surf zone. I have felt the frustration when I’m on a longboard and three A-holes on SUPs show up, their training in lakes and at Yoga Camp obvious.      ADDENDUM to the disclaimer- I started on longboards in 1965, made the switch to shortboards; never rode another longboard until 1989, never rode an SUP until I was 60.

SO, on the first wave I saw ridden by Longboarding Local, he was driving, hit a section, lost his board. Leashless, Longboard Local’s loose board came perilously close to hitting (she would later say ‘decapitating’) a woman who would, a little later, catch one of the waves of the day. Longboarding Local seemed angry that he had to rock dance his way in.  OKAY, so it’s sort of badass to not wear a leash, but, in crowded conditions, PERHAPS sort of irresponsible.

NOW, I had actually gotten out of the water after two and a half hours or so, AND the surf had dropped, the crowd increased. BUT, my friend, who I’ve advised to deny any friendship, after surfing elsewhere, had moved to this spot, and claimed more sets were coming.  I went back out.  HE WAS RIGHT; after what was probably a 45 minute lull, a set approached, and I, inside, was paddling out. As were others. As was Longboarding Local.  The woman Longboarding Local’s loose board had nearly decapitated took the first one. Someone else, possibly her boyfriend, was on the second. I turned for the third. Longboarding Local was, I swear (judge or judges), still paddling out when I turned and committed. BUT, deeper than I was, he turned and took off.  I COULD HEAR YELLING (despite wearing earplugs and my right ear pretty much plugged, again, from the narrowing of the ear canals, that caused by bone growth, that exacerbated by surfing in cold water, that condition first diagnosed when I was 20) behind me, I could feel Longboarding Local’s presence. I pulled out as quickly as I could. These weren’t two person (or PARTY) waves. MAYBE Mr. Local would have made the wave. I’m certain he thought so. I caught the next one (yeah, guess there was another), cruised out of the possible-confrontation zone.

PADDLING back up the point, I couldn’t hear anything, but could see big arm gestures; L.L. making his case to my (although he doesn’t, as I’ve said, have to claim it) friend. WHEN I got even with my friend ______, he wasn’t entirely sympathetic to my explanation.

PRIORITY RULES (historically)- There was no ‘taking turns’ back when I, still thirteen years old, was learning to surf. A wave belonged to the surfer farthest out, closest to the peak. That was it. This was enforced through  peer pressure and intimidation, real or imagined. IF YOU wanted to challenge the big dog, you moved closer to the peak, farther out. IF YOU waited for your turn, you got one, occasionally. IF YOU wanted all the waves to yourself, you pretty much weren’t out on a great day at a great spot.  A LOT of surfing at a good spot (picture Swamis, late 1960s) consisted mostly of moving around, sharking the  inside, waiting for a wave everyone missed of someone fell on. SCRAPPING. IT IS a classic situation where someone sits too far over, can’t make the first section. OR, someone goes for a wave, you don’t, and that person does not catch the wave. AGAIN, differences in equipment have made this more of an issue than in the past; THOUGH, not actually catching or blowing a wave that then goes unridden, particularly if done several times, will not make anyone popular.

PRIORITY RULES (current)- No matter how many times I’ve had this explained to me, I still don’t get it. If I get a set wave and you don’t; and you’re waiting on the shoulder; I shouldn’t paddle out past you, looking for the next set wave? I should allow you to opportunity to go for it, unchallenged? It’s your turn. MAYBE these new rules are the work of surfers who… okay, I’m not going on about ‘participation’ awards and such things… these rules are, at least partially, the result of increasingly crowded conditions. AND they’re really more a WISH LIST than something adhered to.

OKAY, I have tried going by the new priority etiquette. Really. I know how painful it is to not go for the one wave in a one wave set. I had a brief version of this discussion with _____, acknowledging I’d done L.L. wrong. “Well, you could apologize.” “I could.” I paddled up the point, got even with Local Longboarder, apologized. “I come here to get away from this shit,” he said, his arm gestures a bit refrained in comparison to earlier. “We all do,” I said. Not sure if L.L. heard me as I paddled away, but I did say I was leaving,  he could have all my waves. I heard he settled down after I left. Great. Sorry, Longboarder Local. I owe you one.

ONE.

*I’ve actually had a bit of discussion about this incident; the kind of thing that happens, one would guess, thousands of times a day around the world. But, I chose to write about it. If part of my point is that Longboarding Local overreacted, it’s easy to say I have also. “Okay.” AND, some have told me my apology doesn’t seem truly sincere; AND, in fact, almost seems like I’m burning the guy again. “What?” Anyway, I have decided to delete his name. If you just loved the pre-redacted version so much you printed up a copy, please burn that. Really. I’m sincere, here. Truly.

 

 

 

The Right Wave Will…

…wash the grownup out of you.

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I have seen a few grownups who surf. They probably shouldn’t. It just has to be too frustrating dealing with the snakings and the non-looks and the stink-eye, AND, all the while, trying to maintain some sort of ADULT-NESS.

If surfers try to, let’s say, exude a sense of COOLNESS, the sight waves, lined-up, peeling, even if nowhere close to perfect, can seriously damage the facade. Oh, you can maintain the posture, but the glint, the Mona Lisa expression… A great ride, that one section that you shouldn’t have made, but did; that one wave where your board suddenly leapt to light speed, that one cutback you made despite throwing in some extra oomph; Owwwwww! The coolness is gone.

KOOK OUT!

‘GIDDY’ is the word I’ve heard over and over by surfers who would otherwise pass as adults. “I was laughing the whole time.” “It was, it was… I can’t even tell you how…”

Yeah, we know.  Cool it.

All right. I’ve been thinking of the time between surf sessions. I’m doing a little research based on some vague remembrance of a movie about composer Nicholai Andreyevich Rimski-Korsakov. You’re not surfing right now. Are you getting mentally prepared? Does the down time… yeah, thinking about it.

Random Shots in the Parking Lot

You can win in the water and still lose the session in the parking lot. I was discussing this with Stephen Davis, still couch/spot surfing, with some kite surfing sessions thrown in, up from Baja to the Great Northwest. Surfers may spend as much or more time in parking lots and road pullouts and overlooks and on the beach than in the water. And, perhaps because surfing… no, I really don’t know why it gets so competitive, but we have to admit it does.

First, here’s a drawing:

Since it wasn’t clear it’s a wave from high above, not some random abstraction, I colored it. Since my scanner repeatedly failed to scan the cropped color image. Okay, still abstract… with explanation.

So, let’s see if Steve’s account of an incident at an unnamed Central California coast spot comes through. It’s exactly how I received it:

4people out at rincon
Stephen Davis

Yesterday, 10:33 PM

Oops. I accidentally hit send.

So then I bundle my shit up and I’m chilling in the van and this redneck with a huge beer gut pulls in and slowly drives by the front of my van mean mugging the shit out of me.
I’m thinking, “who the fuck is this guy?” Now.
Whatever, I was done kiting.
Jesse broke it down. I guess beer gut grew up surfing a heavy central coast reef and is a local there his whole life.
So decided to take his localism act into the kite scene.
He fucked with Jesse a bunch when he was learning and now talks to him i guess. He reputedly speared his kiteboard into a guy and broke his board tip off in the guys hip. That’s how “cool” he is.
I laugh because none of these assholes are Pomo or Lajolla Indian and even if they were they still wouldn’t own the sea or the air or even the beach in truth.
So we’re all sposed to suck up to this shithead?
No gracias.
Not this lifetime.
He kept staring at me and drinking beer and laughing with his “bro”.
The end
No big deal.
Nothing really happened other than I felt sorry for beer guts life path of bullying.
Sad.
Another alcoholic heading for death with no clue what love or kindness is.
Not my business.
S
Sent from my iPhone
 Stephen Davis

Yesterday, 4:59 PMYou

Hey Erwin.

Ya, so here is what happened.I was hanging at the beach with Jesse. Drinking coffee. We met Stacy and this other sup guy and talked about what the wind would do.

Stacy told us about cool sand bars that were working and where. He also told us about cool kite spots where there are fewer people. We were all chill.
So later, when the wind came up, I asked Jesse if I was going to bum everyone out by going out and being a kook. He said, “not at all, don’t worry about it.” We both thought it was chill.
I took my time and set up slow. Went out and had fun. No one seemed to mind me overall and it could have been worse. After a few waves my chicken loop came unhooked cause my donkey dick popped out. I cruised to the beach to rehook it and this dude starts yelling, “get down wind of me!”
Trying to control me as if I was somehow harming him instead of walking around me. In other words it was easier for him to boss me around.
So that was weird.
I said sorry and that my loop popped off. After that he was cool for some reason.
I was tripped out so I landed my kite with someone’s help but he set me down with my line on this chicks kite.
She got super bitchy and victimy like I had soiled her moment with my existence.
BACK TO ME. So, not being a kite surfer, I don’t know what a chicken loop or donkey dick might be. Rather, I don’t know what they actually are.  I probably will have more on the subject, but, wait, here’s a couple of shots of Adam “Wipeout” James at a secret spot, the important thing being that the place is throwing a lip.
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DURN: So, in almost keeping with the new rules of not revealing, Adam called me on his way home, after dark, photo taken by someone who doesn’t know all the rules. Still, one has to look. And that lip? Legit, just like Adam said, but probably not overhead. Okay, I’m saying Westport. Later Adam revealed he hit his head twice on his board during this session; but still claims he thinks he made this particular wave.
Meanwhile, and always, in the clique-ish/tribal, middle-school-mentality of the parking lot… if one can’t be super cool… no, I don’t have it figured out. I do try to not be ‘super bitchy and victimy,’ not wanting to soil my or anyone else’s moments. That’s in the parking lot. In the water…