Casualness and Casualties Thereof

Okay, this isn’t me in this photo; it’s Deon Wilson at Dungeons, Cape Town, South Africa, courtesy (thank you) of “The Telegraph.” I’m sure he was trying his best to appear casual as he went down the line, all cool and ready to rip it up.


Something went wrong. If he’d just surfed, let’s say, ‘routinely,’ safely, ridden toward the shoulder, ahead of the curl, maybe making a few adjustments, swoops rather than carves, he probably would have made the wave. Oh, but no; Deon decided to throw it up toward the lip, no doubt thinking, “This’ll be exciting, this’ll be cool.”

Okay, I have a whole real life (as in ‘out of the water’) story to go with this possibly-overwrought, definitely-stretched metaphor; but I have to go to work to make up for the money I didn’t make this week, partially (and again) due to my just appearing to be too damn casual, doing it (after almost 49 years) my way.

Later. Oh, and just like Deon, I’ll remember the wipeout longer than I’d remember a nice, safe, routine ride.  And, though I’m perfectly capable of uncontrolled enthusiasm, I do plan on, mostly, staying casual.

Casualness is a form of rebellion. Okay, I’ll be rethinking this a bit before I add to this post.


Captain Sketchee in Color

and ready for more.

More what? More whatever; as long as it doesn’t require running or excessive sweating. No, and he’s done with nude beach volleyball (something about the leaping). He is educated (and he can list his credentials), opinionated, and ready to discuss several non-urgent, not-really-controversial topics in any one of several casual settings, including surf beaches and/or surf-adjacent parking areas.

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“They’re called car parks in much of the world,” is just one of many pieces of info he’s willing to share. Plus, Captain Sketchee has an encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much every wave he rode from 1963 to 1968, the year he used his Uncle’s influence to get into the Coast Guard Auxiliary, just the start of his auxiliary naval career (the ‘Captain’ is strictly honorary).

“Yes, I hot-dogged the outside section, did a spinner, dropped a BA, cheater-fived right past one of those kooks on a 7’6″ garage soul ‘experimental’ board, did a soul arch and a standing Hawaiian in the shorebreak; Tamarack, September 17, 1967. Ebbing tide, afternoon session, fourteen completed rides, one swim, three ‘call offs,’ one verbal exchange, one deferred confrontation on the beach. Early cloud cover.”

The Captain is also known to distribute sage insight such as: “I probably should have made a few friends along the way, but… friends, inevitably, want to share a wave. One (I’ve found that, if he says ‘one,’ he probably means himself) evidently, has to be willing to go alone. All alone.” This might be followed by, “No one drops in on someone he or she (rather than using the more common, less elegant ‘they’) respects, so, blast it all, why’d you totally flamin’ burn me?”

“I don’t think I ‘totally flamin’ burned’ you, Captain; you blew the takeoff on the previous wave, missed two before that; I just… maybe I just lost faith. Sorry, I said ‘previous.’ Maybe ‘preceding’ might have been a better choice. What say you?”

CAPTAIN’S LOG- Surf Date, 03/11/18. Secret spot of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Muddy parking area/pullout. Very small reef break. Sunny but East wind side chop. Four completed rides. One semi-barrel. Two drop-ins. One verbal situation. One shared ride. One confrontation diffused. Going to Westport tomorrow. Ample parking.

Yeah, okay; I was just going to post the photo. Got to go.

Apre’s Surf and Avant Anything Else; Captain Sketchee’s Sport Togs and Fashion Garb

“Avant,” Mr. Sketchee told me, evidently including me with the ‘Surf Fashion lemmings’ and ‘Thrift store dumpster divers,’ “is French, and thereby, mas’ sophisticato, for ‘before.'”

“Mas’ sophisticato?” I asked, knowing, that as another figment of my imagination, Captain Sketchee got his start in fashion at the Port Angeles Goodwill (just down Lincoln from the North by Northwest surf shop) when he found some faux (more French) Admiral’s nautical coat; unfortunately not in the proper size.

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“It’s creepy,” Trish said when I showed her this drawing; “Why would you want to draw… him?”

“T shirts,” I said. “I’m going to add some waves, some lettering… and, besides, he was Mr. Creepee, originally; but, um, he’s, uh, evolved. And, anyway, what about the drawing? Clean, tight; medium lines?”

“The drawing’s fine, but… nobody wants that on a t shirt. I mean, do you?”

I kind of do. I mean, with the lettering and… quality t shirt, and… in my size.

AKA Captain Sketchee…and Other Redrawn Images

Life is all a work in progress. When I was trying to scan a sketch of my new character, Captain Kreepee (the lettering above the drawing already ripped, not cut, off); thinking what I’d say about it, I suddenly thought, “Hey, maybe Captain Sketchee might be a better name for the wannabe surf garb purveyor (whoa; and purveyor sounds kind of similar to pervert, which he may just be).”

Image (43)So, I’ll redraw; tighten it up; and then he’ll be back. Yeah, better research double-breasted suits, also.

MEANWHILE, still tightening-up potential t-shirt art. Here’s where the cheater five drawing is currently: The one top right is the latest.

Can’t Stop Myself from…

…adding more lines. I try for simple; really; but, if no one stops me, I just keep going until…

Image (38)I’m trying to get some illustrations together for (this is kind of a secret and has always been something I’ve been interested in) some t-shirts. I have, actually, done some designs for others, but, as always, I just keep going, adding lines, adding some pointillism (fancier name for dots), some more shading.

Doing some drawings for use in coloring books has helped, but… So, for the above drawing I avoided the ‘extra fine’ pens. Fine lines, I know, through my experience in serigraphy (snotty name for silk screening), don’t always work. They get lost in the process.

The process. My process is I just keep trying.  So, here’s the best I could do with my scanner (because I’m impatient and can’t get to the printer for a couple of days) on a drawing based on a photo I took of a secret and scary and fickle and dangerous and, if I didn’t mention it, secret spot somewhere out on the Strait. The photo very briefly appeared on this site before fear of landmark recognition by desperate and/or frustrated surfers (and having this pointed out to me by several friends) lead to its removal.

Image (39)Image (40)Maybe, in your mind, you can connect the two drawings. I am pretty happy with the rocks in the foreground. Lots of lines; lots and lots of lines.

Blame Laird Hamilton if you must, but…

…Chimacum Tim just got a seven hundred dollar (a bit more, plus the board) space age whatchamacallit, and can’t wait to Foil the Strait.


“Um,” I asked, “how do you, like, catch something… I mean, it, it just kind of seems like…”

“Well,” he answered, “in the videos…”

I sent this photo to several of my friends, Keith “no, I’m not calling you with wave reports” Darrock, Adam “Wipeout” aka “Roundhouse” James, and Hydrosexual Stephen Davis.  Adam hasn’t responded since he told me, “Erwin; I told you it wasn’t going to be working.” Keith texted, “looks flat.” Stephen Davis, who correctly predicted that the latest craze (oh, they’ve been around a while, but not for, you know, regular surfers) from Hawaii (at least Maui and the big island) would eventually show up on the far northwest of America.

Anyway, having already practiced my standing-up on a standup paddle board, and, maybe snagging a half-session’s worth of tiny peelers, I had to go, and Tim, who works on the Washington State Ferries, moved on to somewhere else.

Wait, maybe, on a choppy cross-Sound crossing… I’m just thinking… Tow-in. If you see Tim cruising across the Strait or the Salish Sea, please take a photo. Wait. No. Vid-e-o.

Meanwhile, if you’re headed for (or home from, skunked) the fickle and highly-questionable  (as in, “Are there waves there?” “Not really.”) waves of the Strait or the West End, stop in at the Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange. They have lots of gear, plus some work by local artists (including me); and Tyler might enjoy your tale of ‘can’t miss’ forecasts gone awry.

Uncle Kreepee Unveils New Changing-Out Robe

I’ve suddenly gotten really busy with work; but I’ve been thinking (way too much) about the current political and social state of things. I wanted to do a (more complete) drawing, or series, on creepy old guys (hoping I don’t fit comfortably in the uncomfortable category).

Maybe I thought of this because, after surfing the last time I did, wanting to surf some more, and knowing I was expected to go back to someone’s house to continue painting; and the surf not working at the second spot; then checking a third spot that also wasn’t breaking; I had a dilemma. I might look like a pervert if I tried changing out of my wetsuit there, very close to dark and no other surfers (or surf) to kind of explain what I was doing.

So, I chose to go to a park close to the house I was working at. Okay, so, it’s almost dark and… oops, a sign on the bathroom says, “Sorry, Closed for the winter.” Now I’m thinking about changing outside my car at a landlocked park. Not a good choice. Then two parents (not together), each with a young child, show up. I mean, who takes their tyke to a park when it’s (as I mentioned) almost dark.

Now, I could have gone to the clients’ house; but then, what? It’s, like, new construction. Possible. Or, “Um, uh, you know I went surfing, and…” People aren’t really fond of sand and whatever else comes out of a full wetsuit in their shower. Or their living room.

No. So, about this time, Trish calls. “What’cha doing?” She was almost done shopping, heading home. “No, I don’t think I’m going to go back to painting. Tomorrow.”

So, I decided to drive home in my wetsuit. Fine. I’ve done this before; but there always seems to be some problem: The time I went home from Trestles to Encinitas in just a towel- flat tire on I-5. The time I stopped at the Jack-in-the-Box in Sequim in my wetsuit- screwed-up order, couldn’t back up, had to get out. “Hey,” the guy behind me in line said, “Did you find some waves?”

Image (37)Okay, so I get home. Trish isn’t home yet. SO, since I have no neighbors close by (best part of having acreage- at least a good part), I strip out of my wetsuit on the (frozen) front lawn, grab a handful of clothing, keys, and head for the house and a warm shower.

Kind of glad we don’t have outside cameras. Creeeee-py.

The Thin Line Between Respect…

…and pity. It was, and I’m trying to remember, not my first wipeout of the day, and, I’m pretty sure, not my first tumble underwater. After three or four waves where I was pitched on the takeoff, one where I just couldn’t pull the nose up enough to make the drop, five or six times where I got knocked off my board; this was a wave I tried to back out of.

I should mention that I also got six or seven ‘corner shots,’ quick drops and out to the non-shoulder; one wave where, the lip about to blast me, I hung on, sideslipped quite a ways, sort of recovered; and I got a couple of air drops and a couple of waves I was pretty happy with; and I got two I was really stoked on. Screamers.

And it wasn’t like I was the only one getting worked. Everyone got a share. There were up to six surfers vying for position in a lineup that’s essentially ten feet left to right and five feet inside to outside. Every surfer had a certain success/wipeout ratio, with, I’m guessing, each one happy with this drop or that tube.

And, maybe there’s some connection with my hitting the bottom with this: After the last time I visited this spot, the tide still not high enough to make it, um, slightly less sketchy (didn’t go out- no room for a big board), Trish, viewing the photos on my phone, asked, “Do you have a helmet?”


That’s exactly what I was thinking when I hit the rocks. That, Trish and her warning about the big rocks throughout the lineup, and hoping I didn’t hit hard enough to get knocked out or something.

So, I was actually ready to go in. After an earlier working, separated from my board, Chris, himself washed to the inside, asked if I was all right. “Yeah,” I said, yelling over the noise, “I’m just trying to stay out long enough to save (I probably meant keep) face.” “What?” I caught a couple more quick in-and-outs, missed an outside wave Aaron was yelling for me to go on, caught a decent wave and then…

Yes, I’m going on a bit too much for a common wipeout, but, really, I can’t remember the last time I tried to back out of a wave, then went over the falls. I’m sure it was the second tumble that put me in contact with the gravel, and the smaller rocks. When I came up, I still couldn’t stand up. Too much current pushing around the inside bar; flopping around like a twice-whacked fish on the deck.

Seeing someone on the beach, I motioned to the top of my head. Seeing a guy holding a kid, who I mistakenly thought was Mike Squintz (as opposed to Mike-E, who prefers not to be nick-named ‘Smoker Mike’, though he still smokes), and, when I staggered closer to the steep beach, I (I’m blaming the head wound) yelled, “Fuck, yeah I hit my head!” Sorry kid.

So, I pulled back my hood. “Am I bleeding?” “Not bad,” Keith said. By this point there were only two surfers in the water; then just Short Board Aaron. This isn’t a spot you can surf on an outgoing tide. Then Derrick showed up, fresh, evidently, from some kite surfing. “Are we going to have to take Erwin to the hospital?” “No, I’m all right. Contributed a little skin.”

Okay, so this is where age comes in. I don’t (or, more like, don’t allow myself to admit that I) seek respect from my peers, but I definitely don’t seek pity.  “Hey, everyone got worked. Huh?” “Sure. How old are you, again?” “Yeah. Old… old-er.”

No, wait, maybe I thought I’d get a bit of pity from Trish. Not really. There’s no shame in getting wiped out in the tube. Getting sucked over the falls when you’re trying to back out of a wave. Thinking. Thinking what I’d think if it was someone else.

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:

Coincidental/Possibly Fated Interactions With Alternative/Parallel Universes

FIRST: When you miss out on a great/epic/all time session; it isn’t that we don’t know what we missed; it’s that we do.

SECOND: Let’s say you plan out your future. A to B to C. Sorry, doesn’t really work; there are these little surprises that change the path, each one changing the future. Cause/effect; if, for example, Howard had fired me as Buddy told him he should, I wouldn’t have been a sign painter apprentice long enough to get a job as a painter, and… and on and on… to now.  So it is with these overlapping stories of Hydrosexual (because he loves all things water) Stephen Davis.


Steve called me the day after he sold the painting for $3,000.00 USD. He said he kind of picked up that I had some sort of (“why him and not me”) resentment from our phone conversation from the day before. “Yeah, but I’m still 95% stoked and happy for you.”

IF… Stephen wasn’t a trained/schooled artist with an incredible eye, none of this would have happened. BUT, if he hadn’t moved from Colorado to Port Townsend to go the the Wooden Boat School, he might not have gotten SO into surfing. IF he hadn’t had the opportunity to go to Northern California to do (originally) carpentry on a farm, he might not have had the financing to go to Baja for an extended stay. If he hadn’t met Pepe’, he might not have seen Pepe’s amazing photos of whales in the Sea of Cortez.

Circumstances kept Stephen from returning to Baja, BUT, because Oceana’s father has a tourist-centric shop on the Big Island, and it needed help during the tourist season, Stephen went to Hawaii. Besides surf, one of the perks is the use of a condo, with, evidently, space to paint. AND, Steve picked up a side job as a crewmember on a catamaran, built by Woody Brown, owned by CAP (he’ll show up later). Part of Steve’s job, evidently, and I’m sure there are some less-fun aspects, involves swimming with tourists and dolphins and whales.

A woman who works on the boat suggested they could use t-shirts as advertising. “Maybe with a picture of a whale.” FAST FORWARD- Steve did the painting, t shirts were produced. Yes I have one. Yes, I’ll get it signed next time I actually see Steve. Meanwhile, Steve sells this first whale painting to Cosmo, a friend who escaped Chicago winter, hung out in Hawaii for a month or so.


THEN, this guy from Georgia whose daughter is opening a gallery, just happens to get on Cap’s charter boat.  Maybe it’s the t shirt. Whale painting? CAP hooks Stephen up. Steve gets to work, quite frantically, on another, larger whale painting (also based on a Pepe’ photo). He has a meeting scheduled. RIGHT HERE let me explain a little about how Steve does business. Kind of casual; as in, “I don’t know; whatever you want to pay me.” Somehow, this seems to work. Plus, Stephen has wide ranging and mad skills. He’d say, if you ask him, “I can do that. I’m pretty, um, mediocre;” but he means ‘I have mad skills at whatever you need.’

NOT THIS TIME. Steve solicited advice; even from me. “Yeah, I’m going to have a price in mind. $3,300.00. I promised Pepe’ ten percent, so, it, uh, makes sense.” “Thirty-three. Yeah. Sure. That’s a lot of… hey, um, don’t forget; if they make prints… you’ll need to get a percentage.” “Yeah. He said they’ll make prints. And, get this, his daughter is talking about opening a gallery in New York City.”

STEVE may have been kind of excited. You know how you’re planning on going surfing the next day, and it might be really great; and want to wake up at five? No, you wake up at three-thirty, can’t get back to sleep. Stephen texted the potential buyer at 11:30 or so, said he had a bit more work to do on the painting, but… “Go to sleep. See you tomorrow.”

NO, he didn’t sleep. MEANWHILE, and probably con-currently, Stephen was in contact with Cosmo. “What would you sell the painting for? I mean, how much? Uh huh. No, not asking you to sell it. But…” So, if Cosmo’s painting was worth two thousand, and the new one is much larger…

THIS was the basis for Stephen’s sales strategy.  I was driving home, about to hit the second roundabout, when I got the text. “I sold it!” Yes, I illegally called him back (texting is probably more illegal- same fine). “Whaaaaaat?”


THE STORY isn’t over. I can picture Stephen at a New York City gallery opening, man bun in place, orange pants, prescription shades, fancy people.  Painting many many images of waves, Steve claims, helped him with this, hopefully breakthrough painting.

SINCE he does occasionally, ask me for advice, and because he says he’s forgiven me for my jealousy, I will add that I told Steve, “Nothing leads to big success like some success.” “What? Hmmm. Yeah. Thanks.”

HEY, I was thinking of how my son, James, now a professional guitar player, first got some notice for his skill in high school; inspiring him to get better. MY ALTERNATE PHILOSOPHY is that some of us are stubborn enough that, though things in life, including surfing, are more failure than success; we continue. ONCE we’ve tasted some success, possibly a near-perfect ride on a great wave, we want more.

I’m out of time. Gotta go. I’ll save the other Stephen Davis (surfing) story, “Haole Won’t Go.” Here are a couple of photos of CAP Steve sent me.