Illustrations for “Swamis,” the Novel

The manuscript for “Swamis” is up to somewhere over one hundred thousand words.  It’s a lot of words considering that, when I was told a novel should be over sixty thousand, I didn’t think I could get there.

Not that I did anything that I would call padding, I am now at the exciting conclusion, and need another five thousand or so to wrap it all up.

I had been considering the last line possibilities for quite some time.  Originally it was going to be, “They say I might be getting out of here sometime soon.”  Then it was… well, I think it will still be a different line, but, now, I’m thinking about adding one more line.  Here it is: “I didn’t ask if he was killed with a twenty-two or a forty-five.”

Yeah.  There must be lots of exciting stuff going on before this.

Since “Swamis” is, supposedly, a memoir written by Joseph DeFreines, Junior, and, just to make sure no one confuses him with me, I have put Erwin, someone of about the same age; another surfing inland cowboy from Fallbrook, North San Diego County, in the book as a character.

That Erwin is doing some illustrations for the eventual book.  Here are three drawings toward that goal:  One references a character very early on, Sid, whose last name neither I or my character can remember.  Sid was a team rider for Surfboards Hawaii at the time the story takes place, 1969, was featured hanging ten in an earlier black and white ad in “Surfer” magazine, and, as revealed by in the used board room at the Surfboards Hawaii shop in Encinitas, he was known to thrash his boards.

The second illustration is meant to represent the portion of the old stairs at Swamis, about two thirds of the way up, where a bigger deck offered a perfect view of the waves. This is where I was, on one of those days that starts out mediocre and becomes great, and from where I witnessed, in 1968 or so, a flawless cutback-to off-the-foam to bottom-turn to top-turn by Billy Hamilton.  This is where “Old men stop here” was dug into the railing, and it is where Gingerbread Fred’s body ends up.  In the novel.

The third illustration became, because of the way it turned out (compared to how it was intended) as a representation of one of the main characters, Chulo; whose death by immolation (love that word) next to the Self Realization Fellowship wall is critical to the story.  Chulo is described as looking like a limping (he has an actual limp) Jesus.  I scanned the drawing before adding a beard.  Just in case.

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I have put some of the early “Swamis” chapters on this site, but, one, you’d have to scroll a long ways down to find them, and, two, my propensity for changing and editing makes them different.  At least.  I’m not saying it all might be different in the future.  It might.

I’m just hoping Joseph DeFreines, Junior doesn’t fire me as illustrator.

On Edge

I’m not sure if I should credit the reference photos for my drawings.  They aren’t tracings or blowups from the originals, but attempts to catch the feel and the flow.  If I did try, and, oh, I do, to render… wait, let me look that up.  Does one render?  There’s ‘Render unto Caesar,’ often misinterpreted, according to the various references on my search engine, as some justification for following ridiculous leaders.  Then there’s…

Oh.  Yes, there’s render as extracting by a melting-down process, as in rendering metals or, um, fat; and, in the surprisingly varied definitions of the word, there is also ‘rendition,’ as in ‘extraordinary rendition,’ a phrase created and designed to, if not outright justify it, make sending some prisoner to some harsh place to be ‘interrogated’ seem kind of all right and/or legal.

There’s also a noun, render being the first coat of plaster applied to a brick or stone surface.  I hadn’t heard this, and, so, looked it up.  Scratch coat,  brown coat, white (or finish) coat, according (giving references) to Bob Vila.com.

So, apologizing for taking this side road; but, all right; referencing a photograph of Jock Sutherland cranking one off the bottom switch-foot at Sunset Beach (or is he switch-foot at Pipeline), here is my, hmm, hmm, rendering; scratched on a piece of paper.  Card stock to be more precise.

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I have done a color version, way too much color, but have to get it reduced to fit on my scanner.  Rendered scanner-ready, perhaps.  I won’t get into it.

Meanwhile, hope you’re getting some mountain snow activity in.  Evidently there are few if any secret established ski spots in the Cascades, and one must purchase a lift ticket well before arriving.  Too many skiers and snowboarders.  Evidently.

Meanwhile, before I get back to trying to finish (as in get to ‘the end’) of “Swamis,” the novel, I should mention some of my illustrations that Oceanna and Stephen have been so kind to allow me to display (hopefully sell) at THE CELLAR DOOR, downtown Port Townsend:

 

The Sincerest Form of Flattery- Theft

Someone stole my illustration for the Cellar Door from the Cellar Door.  It’s officially gone, stolen, no longer where it is legally supposed to be.  So, first; WHAT?  Second; Well, it was a copy of the original, which I still have, and hey; doesn’t this kind of mean someone thought it was worthy of stealing, like; there wasn’t an original Picasso or Manet or Monet, so why not grab an Original Erwin?

Okay, while I’m considering the ranks of artists I’m suddenly a part of… wait; I did have one of my Original Erwin t-shirts taken, on trust and a promise, and not only not paid for (only instance of this- all others were eventually paid for), but the person who picked it up denied having possession of it (hope it is being enjoyed)… first let me make sure I have a copy of the purloined illustration.

Oops; never scanned it.  Give me a second.  No; I’m a little depressed at the SEAHAWKS losing, at my missing some epic surf somewhere, that it’s supposed to snow and freeze in the immediate future (like the next week), and that a copy of the drawing I don’t want to scan right now was stolen; I’ll scan it in the morning, post something with just it.

The story of the artwork is as follows: When my friend, radical pig-dogger and/or casual surfboard slider (sometimes both on the same wave) Stephen R. Davis (R for Rad), told me he and girlfriend Oceanna Van Lelyveld, were opening a restaurant under the streets of Port Townsend, I instantly started on a drawing.

Oops, it’s not the UNDERGROUND?  So what do I do with the lettering I did for the UNDERGROUND?  Change it, add something.  Okay.

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Oh, it’s The Cellar Door? I started on a new illustration, suitable for advertising or menus or, evidently, stealing.

As far as waves go; I have been working or desperately trying to winterize (ie; get generator started, cover some exposed waterlines, but I did hear stories.  As local surfer/boat designer and legend Tim Nolan told me about the big ass North Pacific storm before the more current big a as North Pacific storm; “The waves have to hit somewhere.”

Indeed.  Next time.

Maybe in the morning.  The scan; talking about the scan.

If You Can’t Hibernate Peacefully…

…HOLIDAY JOYFULLY!

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It might be considered ironic, to some, that I’m up early, working on a post that includes a drawing of a bear in a barn; an illustration that will, most probably, be our holiday card for this year; completed (as in color added) only last night; only to wake up this morning, and, in searching for the cell phone (and it’s still dark) I would swear I brought inside last night (but hadn’t), discovering an actual bear had decided to rip off and/or break boards on one wall (more like a fence) of the trash can enclosure I had built to keep him out; and had helped himself to whatever goodies (cat food containers that hadn’t been licked clean, for example) he found in the trash cans kept within the obviously-not bear proof yard.

And it’s not like bears clean up after themselves.

Bears don’t pack out what they… wait a second.  Rethink.  I’m kind of stuck on how much I will hate picking up scattered trash that had been neatly bagged, reinforcing the enclosure, hoping it’s enough.    Bears are… well, they are the true locals out here in the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula, out on Surf Route 101; sure, but this local (and he is well known, showing up on the “I’ve heard of Quilcene” Facebook page as he cruises up and down the various streams in a fairly wide area he, no doubt, considers his domain), but, really, he doesn’t have to get so, so surly.

I mean; really; can’t we just get along?

And besides; shouldn’t any self-respecting, non trash-can-raiding bear, at this time of year, be hibernating?

Shouldn’t we?  That or looking for winter surf.  If I don’t get this card printed and sent to you, do HOLIDAY JOYFULLY!

 

Another Negative Image

FIRST, it’s not surf season along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. One must go coastal. Some friends of mine recently did; sharing an adventure that anyone who doesn’t live in the Pacific Northwest would consider the classic Pacific Northwest surf trip: Hiking with backpacks and surfboards, dropping down ropes (and climbing back up again) to possibly-never-surfed spots… exhausting.

OR, one could go to Westport, look for a parking spot, look for an empty wave.

OR, one could work. It is painting season, yes; but my wetsuit is dr-yyyy-yyy; and, yes, I’m thinking coastal.  Coastal.

MEANWHILE, I did complete a new drawing; meant to be reversed, black-for-white.  I don’t really know how this is going to work until I get to a print shop.  SO, last night, sort of hoping to run into the guy (Jay) at the Sequim Office Depot, who has a handle on such things, I, instead, ran into a person who asked another employee how to do the reversal. She wasn’t sure, either; and the first two attempts saw the image reversed but the black staying black.

“No, I kind of meant…”

ON the next attempt, what had been black was now red.  “Whoa! Didn’t know you could do that.”  “I guess we can.”

On the next attempt, we (with my input and the other Depot person’s advice) got it right.

“OH, but, um, can you do other colors?”  They looked it up.  “Red, yellow, magenta, blue, some other color.”  “One of each, please; full-sized; then a couple of eight and a half by elevens.  Please.”

NOW, suddenly, I’m a little irritated with myself that I didn’t get some smaller, as in scannable on my printer, versions of the ones in color.  Here’s the black-for-white version:

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I did lose some detail here; I’m blaming my scanner.  Now, imagine everything that is black as red, or blue, or…  and now imagine you are, quite exhausted from the hiking, out of a beach with silvery-shiny-glassy-empty-near-perfect waves.  And now imagine… whatever you want.

No, not being stuck in traffic.

Original Erwin T-Shirt Design #4

All right, I tried to find the fax and scan feature on our new and hyper-confusing new computer. I have proof that I scanned a drawing before on this thing, but couldn’t seem to find out how to repeat the process on my latest illustration meant to become limited edition Original Erwin T-shirt Number 4.

NO, I had to download a free (thankfully) app from the overlords at Microsoft.

WE’LL see how this works, and worry that, one, I can find the scan in the files, and, two, if that’s successful, that I can do it again next time.

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OKAY on the first point. SO, I had to work in Bremerton, had the original drawing, the negative image of this (sort of), and a fresh-from-Fed-Ex-Kinkos white-on-black version, and showed them to the sales crew at Miller (Kelly-Moore) Paint Company in Silverdale.  Kevin, the manager, and, this might ordinarily matter, a non-surfer, said that if I can get him three shirts, xxl, with long sleeves… So, YES, pre-sale.

ORDINARILY a non-surfer wearing a surf-themed t-shirt might even solicit a question from me, such as, “Do you actually surf?”  NOW, because most of my paint shirts come from Goodwill, I have been known to wear a Harley-Davidson shirt- haven’t ridden a motorcycle in 50 years, and then it was a stripped-down dirt bike.

This might prove slightly embarrassing if, say, one was gassing-up at the Sequim Costco and a real Harley-Davidson Dude, leather and tattoos and pony-tail and actually on one asks, “What kind’a hog you got?”

Not that this happened, not more than once.

AND, BESIDES, if Kevin is willing to risk looking like a Hodad, and he’s willing to promise a purchase; there’s some money to offset the cost of printing… this is something to put in the ‘hopeful-optimistic file,’ off-setting something four or five notches down on the ‘worry’ column.

BUT, as when reviewing anything with others, I realized I had to make some changes in the original Original Erwin. Did that during a break, went back to Kinko’s on the way home, borrowed some whiteout for some fine(er)-tuning, got another batch shot.

AGAIN, I am marketing these as originals, and, de facto (because the printing money goes out all at once and the sales dollars come back slowly) limited editions.  Between those sold (some still available) at Tyler Meek’s Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange, those I’ve sold out of the back of my surf rig, and those (few) I’ve given as presents, most of the first editions are gone.

THOUGH I am way more interested in doing the drawings, I’m working on my sales strategy.  My daughter, Dru, is returning to the northwest from too long in Chicago (most recently working at the “Onion,” quite status-y; and I’m hoping we can do something, something bigger.  I hear this Internet thing is catching on.

No, not blogs.

MEANWHILE I continue to get the occasional (small) wave and the occasional skunking, the northwest continues to be dominated by cold, offshore conditions, I’m past the 40,000 word mark on “Swamis,” the novel, and, as always, I have to go to work work.

Surviving the 50th Anniversary of My 17th Birthday… and More

Swimming in to retrieve my board, so close to banging, again, against the sealife-encrusted rocks, I couldn’t help but think my fears of surfing this spot were being realized.

Not only did I lose my board on my first wave; but it was on my birthday.

Okay, really can’t say too much about the particular spot. It’s kind of a secret spot, accessible by winding roads, trails, a steep cliff, rocks; and then there’s the water; cold, bull kelp heads floating with the rising and falling of the inshore.

I did take a couple of photos of the spot. A friend, who was way out on the Olympic Peninsula, camping; and had agreed to meet me there, but, and this is not atypical; by the time I got close enough to take the photos, he was already dropping into wave after wave.

Okay, so, if I had fastened my leash before I paddled out (didn’t, because of the kelp), or had fastened it securely once I got out (they’re made to easily remove, rather awkward to put on underwater), or if I’d made the drop (the face dropped under me, I freefell) I wouldn’t have been swimming.

I’ll probably sneak the photo onto the site some time in the future.

Yeah, I did make some waves, and did wipe out a couple more times; but, with crazy indicator waves even farther out, with lines coming out of deep water; suddenly steep, scary steep; getting pitched, getting hit by the lip, getting a few quick barrels; hooting way too loud on my rides, or when watching my friend freefalling, blasting through sections… the session was, as memorable, magic ones often are, intense.

It was all pretty much over in an hour and a half or so. I had managed to save some energy for the paddle and climb and walk… and it was great. Thanks for sharing; it was my favorite birthday present.  Here’s my return present: I won’t say more about the spot. As surfer Tim Nolan, who will always be older than me, says, “If you tell people too much about surf spots, you take away their joy in discovering them.”

So, this session goes in the mental file with the time I got perfect peelers at a rare (tide/swell direction/magic factors) sand bar at Noluck, the time Crescent actually had lined-up rights (45 minutes and gone- shared with my friend Archie), a list of other outings including three hours at a Sunset Cliffs peak with Steven Penn, 1972, and… hey, go through your own list.

In surfing, I’ve long believed, we sort of pay for the gifts we receive. The thrashings, the wipeouts, the relentless impact zones, the cold (let’s throw in the crowds), the skunkings; and then… again, think about the gifts surfing has given you.

Just to calm down, and since it was my birthday and I had no strict schedule, I stopped off at a well know break on the Strait. No one was out. It was small. It was so easy.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest logo design for the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE:

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Scapes, Landscapes, and Possibly the Last of Captain Sketchee

I have been doing some Olympic Peninsula-specific landscape drawings lately, and I’m trying to get a few more done before (and, hopefully available at) the HamaHama Oysterama coming up the weekend around the 21st, down (or up, maybe even over) Surf Route 101.

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Here’s something I did for the Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange. And, incidentally, Discovery Bay seems to be the happening spot, so near the confluence of highway 20, 104, and Surf Route 101.  Tyler Meeks offers all kinds of gear for skiing, hiking, surfing; all the outdoor activities one can participate in on the ‘still wild’ Peninsula.  AND clothing; so much easier than perusing the Goodwill or paying full boat.

Since, and probably because Trish hates the Captain Sketchee character, I went a little whole hog (and I may not be done with the good Captain).

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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:

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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