I got five copies of the original drawing, just so I could, maybe, take a few risks on the colors. This is the first attempt. MEANWHILE, I keep working on the story.
…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:
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:
I freely (mostly because it’s so obvious) that my computer skills are lacking; particularly in the graphics area. It least that’s where I’m particularly frustrated. I think of my sister, Melissa, often; most often when I’m trying to draw.
I can no longer call her up for feedback or opinion, I can’t ask her to draw something for my site; a plan I had for teaming-up on some children’s books is not going to happen. My work, compared to hers, is scribbling, sketching. It should be mentioned, also, that my writing gets over-detailed, over-complicated, possibly over-thought; not something that lends itself to children’s stories.
Yet, I do think of Melissa; I do call on her spirit, wherever that is, to assist me. A high percentage of the art, or whatever it is I produce (somewhere down the spectrum), is the image I’ve worked out in my mind; then it’s all scribbling; and (if the image in my mind is perfect) the work never quite is.
When I mentioned this all to my late sister’s husband, Jerome, he said; “Oh, so, like Melissa; you think every drawing has to be… has to be perfect?”
This is the uncropped version of Melissa’s montage. I tried, unsuccessfully, several times, to include as much of the pencil drawing as possible in the header. If I knew… yeah, if I knew how, I could have used the whole thing.
When I started surfing, my drawings were about surfing. When Melissa started drawing, her drawings were of horses. Somewhere she developed the ability to capture people; not just the image expertly rendered, but the emotion, some sense of story; perfectly.
I’ll keep the header up for a while. Here’s one of my drawings
I called my brother-in-law, Jerome, on Wednesday when I couldn’t make the memorial. Couldn’t. That’s a loaded word; the ceremony was in Illinois and I’m… I’m here. Part of the couldn’t has to be that I haven’t faced my sister Melissa’s passing. Passing. Couldn’t. Haven’t; not sure I will; face it. Eventually, I’m just not sure when. Our (Trisha’s and my) daughter, Drucilla, made the train trip down state from Chicago several times, as the prognosis worsened and my sister weakened.
Still, it all seemed too sudden. Way too soon. There hours before Melissa passed, Dru would return on Friday, representing Trish and me, supporting her uncle and her cousins Fergus and Emma.
Oh, I know it’s real, real like our (his eight children) father’s passing last December. I know they’re both gone, not sure where they’ve gone to. Once a person realizes (or accepts or believes) we each have a soul, something separate from the body, even from the “I think, therefore I am” consciousness, something more than just BEing; one can’t help but imagine that this very more-ness is, has to be, somehow, transcendent.
There was a full moon the night my sister passed. Is that relevant?
“You know,” Jerome said, “what your sister would have wanted is for you to go surfing.”
I tried. On Friday, with friends and relatives recounting stories two thousand miles away, I worked, crazy-hard, to finish another job while monitoring the buoys. There was a chance. As is so typical on the Strait, on that long summer evening, it was ‘almost’ something. Just not quite enough. Even so, I almost talked myself into paddling out into one foot chop. Almost.
Allow me to mention the story Jerome told about the hawks. The last painting my sister completed is of three Cooper’s hawks. During the last week, with my sister Mary Jane (Janey to me) helping out, and my sister Suellen en route, three Cooper’s Hawks landed in the trees behind Jerome and Melissa’s house, and stayed there. Every day.
Spirit Guides? I’m willing to believe so.
On Monday I met up with Mike “Squints” Cumiskey, headed out. The surf was just a bit better than ‘almost,’ probably in the ‘barely’ category. Other surfers were in the water. It’s been a long, mostly-flat summer. Bruce, the Mayor of Hobuck, according to Adam “Wipeout” James, checking it when we arrived, eventually talked himself into going out.
Maybe it’s because I persisted, a paddle providing a lot of the power on many of the waves; but, at some point, I was the only one out. It would be something if I said that, for about twenty minutes, the waves improved; not all time, but lined-up, a bit more power, and every time I paddled back out, another set was approaching.
It was something.
Though most of the other surfers had left the beach for the coast or home, I have witnesses: Mike, Bruce, Cole. They agreed it was, for this day, special. Please forgive me if I give my sister a bit of credit.
A NOTE about the drawing. I told Jerome I would write something about the surf experience, and I’d do a drawing; I just wanted it to be good enough. “Oh, so, like your sister, it has to be perfect.” It was almost a question. No, but it has to be good enough.
…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.
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.
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:
Yesterday, 10:33 PM
Oops. I accidentally hit send.
Yesterday, 4:59 PMYou
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.
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:
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…
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.
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.
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
…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.
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:
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.
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.
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.