Sum-mer-time… Skunked on the Strait, 66 degrees at Swamis, 1967…

The surf report and forecast for the Northwest portion of the contiguous U-nited States of A-merica (dashes added to more closely reflect prideful way we pro-nounce stuff) is pretty bleak. You’d have to believe the Pacific Ocean could churn up something more than a two foot swell.

Hey, it’s summertime. Painting season. Hydrosexual Stephen Davis and I, both of us drinking coffee, were each sitting in doorways of our vans, paint gear spread around. I asked him about water temperatures in Baja (last fall) and Hawaii (this last winter). “Oh,” he said, “Baja was right between trunking-it and wetsuit temperature; probably 66 degrees or so.”

“Oh,” I said. Pause, both of us nodding our heads. “You know, back when I was a teenager…” Now Steve was trying to avoid rolling his eyes. “…when the water temperature got up to 58 degrees, somewhere around Easter; if you were still wearing a wetsuit… and bear in mind we only had shortjohn wetsuits… you were a pussy.”

“Uh huh. Pussy.” “Really. And you couldn’t put one on until it got back down to 58, somewhere around December; before Christmas, anyway.” “Uh huh.”

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What I didn’t bother to tell him, but probably drifted off into remembering, was an early summer morning when Phillip Harper, Ray Hicks, possibly Mark Metzger and Billy McLain, and I; no doubt in two cars from Fallbrook, all hit Swamis at about the same time.  I was first down the stairs.

I surfed Swamis enough from 1965 to see the basic reef, sort of fanned, overlapping shelves, hold up while the shoreline would change more dramatically; erosion, refill. Seasonal. The wave conditions went from one high tide peak too close to the bigger rocks; to mid-tide and two distinct peaks; to ultra low tide, one running crazy and almost hollow wave; from the December ’69 swell; through dawn patrol, after school, between classes-at- Palomar and work-in-Oceanside sessions (pre-1971); to the times I lived in Encinitas (’74-’76) and could sneak in a few; to New Years day ventures while working in San Diego because I didn’t have work in the Northwest (1991,’92); everything from Santa Ana mornings to south wind chop, onshore, glassy; overhead to flat; overcrowded to almost empty; with so many memories… they’re all memories now; haven’t surfed there in twenty-five years.

On the particular morning I was remembering while talking with Steve, shadows of the bluff extending into the water, there was a chalk board on the still-empty lifeguard station. “Surf 2-3, water temp- 66.” Whoa! Warming up! We would probably end up surfing what we referred to as Swamis Beachbreak, the quarter mile or so between Swamis proper, and Pipes, pretending there was a better lineup off this rock than off that. “Hey, I WAS on the nose!” “Hey, did you see that rollercoaster?” “Hey!”

I hit the water straight out in front of the stairs, caught a left just as my friends hit the sand. “Hey!”

Not that Stephen would be all that impressed. “Uh huh. Do you have any more coffee?”

self realization

“Uh. Um. Yeah.” I’m certain many of us will look back on the times we went searching for waves on the Strait. Sometimes it can be… “Waves?” “Waves? No, I got skunked.” “Then why are you smiling?”

 

 

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Real Surfer Jack O’Neill

“It’s always Summer…”

For those of us who never met Mr. O’Neill, but enjoyed the ever-increasing comfort and warmth as wetsuits continued to get less cumbersome and more comfortable, the image of the man is tied to the photo of the man in the eyepatch. This drawing is also derived from that image.

Another legend passed; and the various waves continue rolling. On.   Thanks for the warmth.

Two New Coloring Book Possibles

I do, actually, have forty covers printed up and ready for the next addition of the Realsurfers Coloring Book, most of those long-promised and, hopefully, eagerly anticipated. Here are two new drawings:

Image (191)Image (190)You may notice the drawings, square (I swear) to the page when I drew them, come out crooked-ey on the computer. This is some issue with my scanner; page up against the stops, and yet… errrr-arrrr.

This was kind of the issue the last time I had some printed. I had edited, and added, using original drawings for the newer pages, reusing the previous pages for the rest. And they all came out crooked.

This has caused me, probably, more grief than necessary. I want to start fresh, from the originals; couldn’t find some of the ones I want. Some were actually colored-in, others were given away, others are god knows where.

MEANWHILE, waves occasionally show up.

IF I could say something about my style; the sort of checkerboard deal might be a throwback to my early art studies at Palomar Community College; pencil drawings on display with a similar patterning, though rendered in a different medium, a somewhat common feature. Starting with the crosshatch pen-and-ink style, I have tried to infuse longer lines and more movement, a hopefully-kinetic, hopefully-flowing energy. Deciding to do the coloring book HAS influenced my drawing. Cleaner, maybe.

STILL, I do sometimes work on non-surf drawings (and, hey, did you notice, I seem to draw more rights than lefts?), and would like to do a collection of non-coloring book pieces, some checkerboard patterns included.

Debriefing Hydro-Sx’l Stephen Davis…

…and two new realsurfers Coloring Book possibles. First, Stephen is back in the cold, snowy and great Pacific Northwest after, I’m not sure, but a long time away, Hawaii, Baja, California, Oregon. He hit Seaside yesterday, just in time for slight offshores to change back to howling onshores. I actually tried to find him in the parking lot on the… geez, is this a secret?… camera. The movement of the camera was too jerky and I was getting competing phone calls about work, real life stuff; never caught him or his van (the camera seems to usually be focused in on something other than the actual waves; which is fine) did catch the beginning of another round of sleet.

Next, evidently, after making some money, Stephen is planning on returning to Hawaii, but not before he fills in a few details and shares a few stories.

Money. Yeah. If he’d had more, Steve says, he’d have stayed longer. Not much sympathy from me, actually.

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As always, I showed Trish the new illustrations. “Uh huh,” she said of the “speed line” drawing, “You should add some flowers,” of the second one. “It’d be more… I mean, I’m thinking this is black and white and psychedelic, but, flowers…?” “People like flowers,” she said. “Uh huh” I said. Saving one without flowers, I’m going to add some flowers. Like everything, more later.

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.
adamwipeoutlipthrown
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…

A Few New Realsurfer Illustrations- UPDATED

Here’s the new drawing for the header. It was inspired by another awesome photograph I received from Stephen Davis; yeah, the lover of all things water, who, incidentally, is headed back to the Northwest after a long stretch and many adventures south of the wall. I’m sort of anticipating some stories (having had a brief preview on the phone yesterday, Steve in San Diego, me hoping the weather would stay warm enough to paint a bit longer; Steve evidently unable to hear me, answering questions he thought I might be asking. “Yeah, it’s a drainer, you have to dodge rocks; there’s sea urchins; surfers have had brain damage.” “Wha??”

The drawing, which I had reduced at The Printery, evidently not enough to get the whole thing on the header, partially because the line version doesn’t show up well. Here, then, is the full width version:

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Okay, here’s my other recent surf drawing (I do sometimes draw non-surf stuff). I’m considering redrawing it. I’m pretty happy except (and this has happened before) I’m not so stoked on the surfer’s overall look. Maybe, then…

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Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here; probably should stretch these out. Crappy weather has given me more of an opportunity to draw, something I won’t have once painting season gets here. Here:

 

So, okay; I see a few too many scanner marks. Errrr. My scanner/computer connection is quite aggravating. Won’t line up straight. About a third of the scans fail and have to be redone; I’m getting so many scans on my computer I have to scroll down for each new entry. Probably stuff computer literate people have figured out. This is sort of a random mosaic pattern created by my page dealeobopper. I’ll go back and post larger versions.

Yeah, the surfer in the color version is actually too green in real life also.

“Surf Free- Parking $5.00” illustration

I have tried quite diligently, over the years, to not pay to surf. Particularly, I have walked some distance to avoid paying to park. Access. It’s all about the access. Right. I get that. There always is a price. Right. I get that, also. I no longer work across some railroad tracks from the bluff just south of Oceanside Pier. I no longer live kiddy-cornered from the road down to Tourmaline. I can no longer use my bike to cruise down to Crystal Pier.

image-158 Okay, so I’ve tried to keep the price down. If I’m lucky enough to be working close to where some waves are breaking… write off; stick my board in my work van. If I can get someone else to ride along… sure, you know the options. Cruise around in the Northwest with five or six sticks on top of your rig, even four, and… yeah, someone’s going to flip you off. It might be me, though I do enjoy the ride sharing- always some good stories exchanged, and, the destination probably is some remote and uncrowded setup. But…

There’s a whole sort of backlash, not new, but increasingly noticeable as surfing becomes increasingly popular in the cold north, social media spreads the word on semi-secret spots far too quickly and far too far, and surf forecasting gets better and better.  Post a photo; even take a photo; call a friend from the beach; share some readings that worked for you; gloat about how awesome a particular spot was on a certain tide…

One can expect to get some glares, maybe the ‘stink-eye’, for showing up on a beach without a good reason for being there. “No, no, nobody called me. Internet? Well… No; I won’t tell. Instagram? No. Hey, it was an accident I even found this place (parked on an unnamed logging road, walked a mile and an half, climbed down a cliff- all accidental) at all. But, man; it’s just so epic-ly awe… good? Crappy? I’m getting skunked? Okay, then. I get it.”

What sort of evens the whole thing out is the skunk factor. I’ve headed for Westport (not a secret spot), no wind to mess it up. By the time I got to the bridges… south wind, howling. The coast is often messy, as likely to be too big and out of control as rideable. AND there are no guarantees that the buoy readings that brought good conditions in the past will be repeated, and windows close very quickly.

Obviously off-subject. So, one short winter day, when gas was well over $3/gallon, I cruised out in my Subaru (28 miles/gallon), and only managed to catch four waves before it got too dark. I did the math. Not sure, but I think it came to $4/wave.  My friend Ray Hicks, down in California, parking outside the fence to surf Pipes (not anywhere near a secret spot), asked how the rides were. “Great.” “Worth it.” “Yeah.”

Of course, mostly I decrease my cost/wave by catching more waves. This might not make one popular if there’s a crowd of folks who loaded up pre-dawn, caught an early ferry, only stopped once for coffee/pee break, and, just as predicted, found some waves.

INCIDENTALLY- My friend, Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, STILL down in Mexico, will not tell me where the hell he is. It’s not like I can just get down there, though, if I could, I would. AND, if he did tell me… hey, new rules; I couldn’t tell you. No, really. Please, stop asking. NOOO!

 

Yeah; new rules. BUT, the factor that evens

Cartoons, Coloring Book Drawings, Tattoos, Renderings…

…and kind of thinking if concentrating on doing surfing illustrations with using them in a coloring book has been helpful to my long term artistic goals. It has made me think of trying to show more with simpler lines, but… yeah, but, but I just always want to get better, closer to the feelings as well as the images.

"Water Seeks Its Own Level" I thought I'd post this before I go back and add more to it. I love simplicity; love wild, swooping lines; I just don't seem to stop soon enough often enough.

“Water Seeks Its Own Level” I thought I’d post this before I go back and add more to it. I love simplicity; love wild, swooping lines; I just don’t seem to stop soon enough often enough.

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This was the third attempt. Draw one; the expression on the surfer’s face is wrong, head’s too big. Use that to get to the second. Too messy, perhaps. This one… maybe the face is too cartoonish. AND, I know, got too carried away with the lines. Really, in most surfing images, photos or illustrations, especially if the surfer is wearing a wetsuit; it’s a lot of black. It is risky to try to show expressions; and (sorry for the self evaluation/critique), on drawings where the expression seemed right, the rest kind of followed.

Here are a couple of other recent, non-surf-centric illustrations:

image-151image-153

I’m not sure why the second one seems off-kilter. I’m blaming the scanner. Again, it’s the expression first, rendering second.

MEANWHILE: Trying to keep from naming surf spots; but reaffirming that there is never any surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca; I did go surfing quite recently with Adam Wipeout, Cameron, Adam’s dog, Victor, somewhere on the wild Pacific Ocean coastline in Washington, just ahead of more incoming snow.

BECAUSE Camo is six feet four with long legs, he got to ride shotgun in the ‘should be stealthy, but with four boards (two for Adam, just in case) on top, non-descript Toyota’ while I, with short legs but a quite long torso, got to ride in the back with the over-active dog. Now, part of Adam’s deal with his wife, Andrea, is that, evidently, if he gets to go surfing on a Sunday, he either takes their two overactive boys, Emmett and Boomer, or the aforementioned dog. AND Victor seemed to resent both me, taking up less than half of the available space, and the paddle that split the space. AND it’s a long haul there and back; speed reduced by the off-and-on icy, and almost all winding roads.

AND, when we got to the ocean, there were choices; not between almost great and great waves, but between junky and less-junky. AND it was cold. 37 degrees, with a colder wind possibly ready to get even colder. I must admit I waited a while, looking for… geez, what are we always looking for?  WHILE I was shivering, watching, four surfers came running down the beach, headed out right where Camo and Adam were getting a few decent beachbreakers. Bear in mind, there were no other surfers out anywhere. AND, one of the surfers had a GoPro in his mouth, just sure he’d be getting barrelled.

SO, I went out, found a few fun ones, cranked a few turns, connections, got bumped off on a tuck-in, got caught inside way too many times, traded off peaks (the wind did shift, and it got better) with Adam. EVIDENTLY, when we were pulling through Port Angeles, someone flipped us off. Really, they flipped Adam off. “So,” I asked Adam while we were waiting at a Mexican Restaurant, “don’t you flip off cars with four boards on top? I do, sometimes, I admitted, if it’s only an under-the-dashboard flip-off.

AND, incidentally, there were PA locals at the restaurant, possibly, almost certainly, surfers, but, on this day, they’d been hitting the local slopes (not sure if this is a secret spot or not). You can tell; they kept their passes hanging on their outfits. Outfits. “It was just too good to pass up,” one of them told Adam. Other than the car with the dog hanging out a window and the four boards on top, there was little proof that we’d been ripping up the ocean waves. Maybe if I’d had a GoPro in my mouth…

So, sorry to get too involved in the story. Hopefully I didn’t reveal too much secret information. Again, remember there’s always something breaking on the coast, never anything on the Strait.

Trying to Catch That Glass

It’s all about lighting; the perfect surfing photo or drawing; and color helps. We know that waves, spray; these can be translucent. At some point, rising and throwing out, a wave can seem, or even be transparent. And foam; it’s white because of the air bubbles. And the reflections, the shine, the shimmer; maybe these are easier to capture with pencil, charcoal, pastel; something pushed and dragged across the flat surface.

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I just keep scratching.

MEANWHILE: I’m sure the northwest has been sending lots of waves, along with the rain, down south. If it doesn’t lessen the drought, maybe it’ll clean some of the toxic waste from the highways; and maybe, after a prescribed length of time to avoid getting sick from the water, surf.  Or maybe a die-hard surfer will get a course of shots and paddle out. “Just keep your mouth closed,” possibly not the best advice.

I did catch some waves recently, can’t be too specific about where, or maybe even when; trying to adhere to Clint’s Rules of Modern Surf Etiquette (which I promise to list when I get them all straight in my mind: Don’t call people from the beach; don’t talk specifics because someone will back-check against the buoy readings and figure out when the spot you named, but shouldn’t have, works; other rules); but I will say it ran contrary to the surf forecasts we all study.

Partially, what I wanted, was to catch a few waves to myself before I try to play the odds and go when the forecasts seem to guarantee waves. I’ve been on the beach before, with twenty or thirty rabid surfers (or in various stages of rabidity- a real word, I looked it up) standing around, perfect conditions on the forecast, and even the buoy readings the same as they were on days that were great (see, back-checking, or, more likely, anecdotal information gleaned over years), and there’s one guy in the water scratching for some dribblers, and the waves are just not there.

I’m just saying; it happens. And it explains why, the farther one has to travel, the more one has to invest, the more likely one (or thirty) is to lean heavily on ‘sure thing’ forecasts. But, I slid a few waves alone to sort of indemnify myself against a serious skunking.

AND, I do know Adam Wipeout got some waves. Not sure where, exactly, but I do know he did score because he wouldn’t tell me. Clint’s Rules. I think he would, and it’s probably all right to talk about sessions in crappy conditions. Come on, Adam… I won’t be posting. Really, I’m not sure why we want to know… Oh, yeah, I do. Because.

Here's a colorized version. It all gets washed-out a bit from the scanner/computer connection

Here’s a colorized version. It all gets washed-out a bit from the scanner/computer connection

Keep on Truckin’ 46 Years Later…

…with permission. I was going to put this in my last post, but, really, it deserves more. In thinking of cartoons to submit (submit being a perfect word for this- writers and artists are always begging someone to read or look at our stuff) to “The New Yorker,” and, with those who do look at my drawing style, unaware of the connection to Rick Griffin’s drawings in 60s era “Surfer,” comparing it to that of R. Crumb; it seems an easy step to my re-imagining Mr. Crumb’s iconic (not a word I overuse) “Keep on Truckin'” illustration.

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BUT, BEFORE I submitted the drawing, I felt I had to seek permission from the reclusive Mr. Robert Crumb. SO, I GOOGLED him (fascinating), found a connection, emailed the guy who, it turns out, is in charge of marketing. No response. I tried again. It is no exaggeration to say that getting a reply from R. Crumb is one of the most thrilling things in my long but… (I’m doing some calculating here. With the top artists being so far above everyone else, and some people never even showing their works… hmmm… so I’ll say… somewhat… no…) somewhat satisfying art history.

image-141I was, undoubtedly, so excited to get the email that I  didn’t even realize the tone of his email was sort of negative.  And, I wrote that I’d put my drawing on my wall, and I didn’t even have a wall. Maybe I did, but hadn’t taken advantage of it. I do have a twitter dealeo. I think it’s BigERwin; rarely look at it.  And, I still don’t know how to do stuff on Facebook. Trish, who has her own stuff on Facebook, occasionally  helps out. I think I’m at Erwin Dence Jr. but I’m afraid to ask people to be my Friend, for fear of rejection.

Submission, rejection; sometimes we get something positive. AND I have to thank my sister, Melissa Lynch, for pimping my site on the Facebook. Thanks to you for checking out my stuff. Keep on truckin’.