T Shirt Ready… Or Not?

That is the question I ask every time I finish an illustration.  And, here’s my technique, mostly based on what I’ve learned, and what I’ve yet to learn about attempting to draw something as a negative image so it will transfer onto a dark shirt: Now, even if I’m drawing the black lines meant to be black, I get a negative print of that, go in and refine the image.  It’s kind of like erasing.  Then, back to black being black.

Oh, and I’m also not using really fine pens, just in case I get lucky and the result is worth spending the money to get some shirts printed.  I should say ‘investing’ the money; but, as much as I love the whole thing of going to D & L Logos (slight pimping here), the investment is all in one chunk, the return is spread out.

And, again, it’s a learning process; and I have learned a few things.  A few.

Mostly I’m trying to improve at the artsy part while, definitely, getting a bit pickier, a bit more selective as to what’s good, what’s not quite good enough.  As a painter for over fifty years, I have learned that the client has every right to be picky, and, if you’re going to be the one asking to be paid, you have to make sure you’re not apologizing for something that isn’t quite right.

And, again, again, I love the whole process from seeing an image I can get excited about, trying to represent what I was excited about, and then the print shop, screen shop part, and then, the sales part.  Parts of the sales part.


So, let’s discuss. The problem with fully wetsuited surfers is everything is so dark.  Trish thinks the surfer looks scary.  “Yeah, well…” I did add some white lines in the negative-to-positive process, but, maybe, he may be a tad scary.  Probably not a t-shirt; and, if it was, it would be dark on light.  Or, wait, maybe… not black on not white.  Hmmmm.

And again again again, I never really think anything is done.  A little touchup on the face and…

Okay, there’s the story on this one, taken from (with every attempt to do justice to) a photo of Keith Darrock at a far-too-easily recognized spot on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Keith told me once, while we were bobbing around waiting for any sign of a rideable wave, that often, when he’s surfing, the Bob Marley song, “Soul Rebel” is playing in his head.  Now, Keith is known for charging, with style, close to the pocket, and he may have been more inspired on the occasion of the original photo, he the only one out, ‘gorging’ (his word), his wife and daughter looking on.

When I compare the representation to the original, Keith’s board was, perhaps, flatter, his arch, um, archier.

Scan_20191202 (2)What happened here is, when I got back home with the prints, Trish said she ‘really’ liked the negative version.  “Yeah, I do, too.”  Unfortunately, I only got it in full size (11″ by 17″), and can’t show you.  Later.  I may or may not add color to the drawing, but, at the counter, ready to pay, I asked if they could, ‘real quick’, turn the image the other way, put it on one side of the page, thus making a version of a holiday card Keith might use to… “No, not today. That would require scanning, and centering and…”

“Yeah, okay; another time.”  I might be less thrilled with print places than I once was.

Incidentally, there are a couple of dots on this image that are not on the actual drawing.  They’re on the glass on my quite inadequate scanner.  Jeez, if I worked at a print shop, I’d…

Learning.  Process.

MEANWHILE, I do have some prints and some t-shirts available at Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.  I was just in there the other day, hanging out.  It should be a required stop on the way home from one’s latest Strait surf adventure.  “Keith and (Cougar) Keith stopped in here the other evening.  They were… (gestures to indicate exhaustion)”  Hmmm. “Wonder where they surfed.”  “They didn’t say.”


WATCH OUT! Going Paddle-less

In a CONVERSATION with my friend, media darling (I will continue to call him this- it’s true) ADAM WIPEOUT JAMES, me painting trim in a low-bank waterfront mansion (part of the greater Puget Sound, but many thousands of feet (because waterfront seems to be sold my the foot) from even the fickle, often-trickling (note the internal rhyme) waves of the Strait of Juan de Fuca; Adam just about to miss a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, where he would attend and cook oysters at an event held by ‘WARM CURRENTS,’ a group dedicated to getting kids who might not otherwise get the chance to enjoy the cold bliss of surfing, Adam, in response to my telling him that I was switching to surfing a TRADITIONAL LONGBOARD, and that he should definitely tell ‘Warm Currents’ official, ABIGAIL, who, if you read ‘Realsurfers’ religiously (as you should), you will recall that Abigail, who I, allegedly (accused, not convicted) once burned on a wave (in response to, again, allegedly, she pulled my leash), but who (still Abby/Abigail) did, nevertheless, purchase an ORIGINAL ERWIN t-shirt; and that this switch from the STANDUP PADDLEBOARD would, obviously and unavoidably make me far less DOMINATE in the lineup; in response to all that, Adam said, “WAIT! WAIT! you’re going to crawl on your belly, MAYBE jump up to your knees; maybe even (gulp) STAND UP?”

There was something in Adam’s TONE that just hit me wrong.  NO, not the tone, it was the WORDS.

“NO, man; I’m planning on RIPPING IT UP; dropping-in, back to the wall; swooping, climbing and dropping, tearing into a vicious cutback… all that.”



“WELL.”  It was a ‘well, we’ll see’ kind of ‘well.’


Archie Endo, styling at LongLost Point. Photo by Stephen R. Davis

I would like to say the catalyst for my switch back to a longboard was that ‘Allboard’ (formerly ‘Shortboard’ to distinguish him from ‘Hippy’) Aaron’ said he has the perfect board for me, a ten-four Ricky Young; or that legendary longboard stylist Atsushi ‘Archie’ Endo offered me a ten-two Southcoast on a long-term loan basis- I would like to say that- but the truth is, if I want to surf some of the Strait’s less-accessible spots, or even, like, make the trek back from, say the beach at Westport to the parking lot, without, embarrassingly, dragging my board across the sand/gravel, and, sweating and red-faced, stopping every once in a while to readjust my grip on my SUP, I might just have to switch back to crawling onto my board, paddling for and into waves, hoping some dormant muscle memory might kick in and… we’ll see.

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Archie Endo shot this one. It’s, like, waist-high, right?

ALSO, I switched the header back from the one drawn by my late sister, MELISSA, to one of me standing up on a surfboard.  Yes, I did make that wave.

YES, I am aware that I’ve been saying I have (already) given up my WAVE-HOGGING ways for a while.  Well.

That’s a ‘we’ll see’ kind of ‘well.’

A Few New Tees A Few Good Waves

I picked up some tee shirts at DL LOGOS in Port Townsend yesterday. The outfit is run by Dwane and Loren (oh, that’s why it’s DL), and they have what I (having worked in several sign shops), a fan of such places, consider a pretty cool shop.

Rather than the smell of heavy and toxic chemicals (lacquer thinner, paint, methyl ethyl ketone), it is one, warm, due to the fact that the inks need the heat to dry, and, two, has more of a plastic-y smell. It’s similar to the smell of a toy, from some years ago, that enabled kids to melt plastic around all kinds of shapes.

One of the guys, D or L, and I went through the boxes of leftover or extra tee shirts a week or so ago, got a selection of sizes and colors. From the first batch of shirts I learned that not everyone wants a L, XL, or XXL; so I got some smalls and a few more mediums.

SO, after I kept a couple for gifts, one for myself, sold some shirts to friends, one to a woman on the job I was working on, there are now less available at TYLER MEEKS’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.

AND, rather oddly enough, as the first potential buyers were going through the selection, I realized I was a little reluctant to let the shirts in the coolest colors go; mostly because the next potential customers couldn’t see how cool they were. Mine, in, yes, the XXL, is on a sort of forest green, and, yeah, it’s fine, but in maroon…

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I am working on some seasonal, surf-related cards, and, with the knowledge I’m getting from actually producing and trying to market art and products (and throwing in that I enjoy the hell out of the whole process), I will be doing more shirts soon.

Here’s are the first shirts, a black and white version of one of two new designs for tags I’m working on, and an illustration that probably won’t make it to ORIGINAL ERWIN shirts.

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The tag is the one on the bottom. I’ll add the color version soon.

A Look Back at the First ‘Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event’

Somewhere before it was my turn to present my short story, “Locals,” I realized a twenty minute reading wouldn’t work with the somewhat fractured audience. By fractured, I really mean distracted. There was a lot going on in and around the Cotton Building, the former Port Townsend Police Station, and, for this evening, the site of the first ever Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca Cultural Event.

The Kinetic Kar thingie was happening nearby, there was a dance about to happen at the American Legion Hall, and, hey, it was a High Season Saturday night on Water Street. Former “Surfer” magazine (and many others) editor and the man whose name must appear somewhere on any jacket for any authentic surf-related book, Drew Kampion, was just finishing a slide show. He’d been there (everywhere, with photos to prove it) during surfing’s post-Gidget, short board evolution. As a writer/journalist, Kampion was the Hunter S. Thompson, the Tom Wolfe for surfers. Yes, Wolfe wrote about surfing, but he wasn’t a surfer.

Somewhere after Drew’s casually-presented show-and-tell, with insider stories; with Archie Endo (he volunteered for this, and was very well received) playing surf tunes through a little amp; with people milling about near the tables and easels of art work by legitimate, professional artists Todd Fischer and Jesse Watson, checking out a painting by Stephen Davis that just (I mean just) sold to a surf shop in Malibu; with photographs by Christian Coxen; with some people taking to seats who clearly thought this was some other event; with people (some possibly bored tourists) wandering in off the street; I knew it would soon be my turn.


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This first event came together much like the actual local surf scene; word of mouth, which includes texting, e-mails, random meetings between surfers at Waste Not Want Not (used merely as an example). Keith Darrock, surfing Librarian, came up with the idea of doing a surf-centered event, possibly including me because we ran into each other while looking for surf at a sort-of secret occasional-breaking surf spot. But this is how it worked. Tim Nolan, boat designer, will be displaying his new paddleboard and the cad drawings for it at the upcoming event, partially because Keith ran into him at a surf spot past Joyce.

“Yeah, but, Keith,” I had said prior to the first event, “if it’s sponsored by the library, shouldn’t there be something, you know, like, literary?”

“You know anyone… literary?”

I recommended Mr. Kampion, who actually dedicated a poem to me in “Surfer” magazine in 1969 (possibly because I have a funny name and did have a poem, heavily edited, published in the magazine in late 1968, written when I was 17), and who now lives on Whidbey Island. Keith reached out to him, he agreed to come over, and, relief, now I was the opening act.

Except I wasn’t. I was scheduled last. I tried to appear calm, but actually was unable to see the audience through my reading (only) glasses. That was just as well. I had rehearsed, thrown in some choreography, timed my readings. I didn’t want to screw this up.

At a normal, conversational rate, it took about nineteen minutes to read through.

And so I began.

“Whoa,” someone said, (like, fifteen minutes) afterward; “I didn’t think someone speak so… clearly, while talking so… (pause for a breath)… fast.”

So, this time, for this event, with the Northwind Gallery involved, there may be a bit of a change in the demographic. I would say more sophisticated. Maybe. Maybe the Port Townsend literati. We’ll see. Most of the original artists will have works on display. Background music will be provided by Pete Raab, including a couple by Archie currently working and surfing in Thailand). Drew Kampion has agreed to come back. Author Justin Hocking will be the main act, and I’m not sure how Keith arranged this, but, wherever I am in the lineup, I’ll be reading something shorter. And slower.

But I can read it faster if I have to.

See you this Saturday, starting around 6pm, uptown Port Townsend, upstairs at the Carnegie Library.

A Few Secret Straits Spots Revealed- Sorry If You Missed It


THESE are a few photos taken on the Straits of Juan de Fuca by Jeffrey Vaughan; and, actually, I have more. The problem is, it’s not cool to publish photos where the location is obvious, even if the spot is nowhere near secret (oh, it might be somewhere near a secret spot). So, I surf these spots, too; and don’t really need anyone suddenly thinking this might be a destination other than, say, Westport. NOOOOOO! Even rideable waves are soooooo rare.

Besides, it’s not like thousands of wave-starved surf enthusiasts are going to catch a ferry and head many miles west northwest just because they saw something on my site.

SOOOOOOO, I’m going to do a flash posting, Saturday, 9pm Pacific Daylight Savings Time, featuring some very pretty photos at a spot easily recognizable to those who have been skunked at the very beach. I’ll delete the photos around 11:35, since anyone up will probably be seeing if Saturday Night Live is new, a rerun, or any way funny.

ORRRR, maybe a few city crews, spurred on by the images and hoping the forecasts and the buoy readings are wrong, might just be loading up for that first ferry.

UPDATE: I did post the other photos. They were great. And, like the fickle waves we seek, they’re gone.

Adam Wipeout’s realsurfers’ Guide to Being Real, Number 3

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This is the drawing for the post two down from here; but, rather than transfer the copy from there (mostly because I couldn’t seem to get it done), I should probably just update. I did hit the hot waves on the cold Straits last Thursday. The session that  started out… wait, I already wrote about that. I could mention the “Locals Only” session in Port Townsend earlier this week; two hours of rare wraparound waves with heavy nearly-offshore winds and a horizontal downpour . I was actually working nearby, headed over, watched the two hour session happen from the comfort of my work rig.

I probably should come up with the top ten excuses for not going out when there are actually waves. My ear was plugged up from the previous session, not thinking I needed earplugs because it was small (initially), and suffice it to say, I do feel the guilt. Maybe my best excuse is that I’m not a local, and didn’t want to impose.

No, that won’t be on my list; I’ve only done it once. merely crowded is not the same thing. Oh, and, for the sin of ever mentioning there are ever, EVER any waves in Port Townsend; no one could really predict or forecast the event, or take the chance to drive any distance on the chance it might happen.

As for today’s surf… owwwwww!

Coming up soon: “Are all surfers SOCIOPATHS; or is it just me?”

Fitting the (Real Surfer) Profile


Tugboat Bill** already had one hand on my shoulder when he moved his other hand around to my stomach, not-quite-patting it, I’d say, twice; all in the service of making his point. I had exited the water down the beach (maybe it should be up the beach because it was closer to the left-breaking reef) from my Toyota wagon precisely because I had seen Bill from the water, and, frankly, because I wanted to brag to someone about my performance.

“I thought it was you,” he said; but I didn’t see your…(looks around) did you get a new surf rig?” I pointed down the parking area. “And then, on one wave, you turned and… are you familiar with the old ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ show?”

I was, more than enough to realize exactly what he meant. The Profile. Not having shrugged-off his placing of a hand on my shoulder, I’m sure I pulled away, attempted to laugh as I attempted to suck in my stomach; neither action with much success.

Any anger (or hurt, really) I felt was mitigated by the knowledge that the comment was not meant as truly hurtful, and, yes, that the comment was true.

Still, I was thinking more about how well I thought I was doing on the waves to concentrate on how chubby (can I say ‘husky’) I might have looked on the waves, making those subtle moves, weighting and un-weighting. And, perhaps realizing I was offended, Tugboat Bill mentioned to Cash and Tanya***, for whom he’d been saving an empty front row spot when some other surfer moved out; that I’d once saved his very life; sharing my hot water (fill up one of those green plastic Costco kitty litter containers, about a gallon and a half, at home, place it by the car’s heater, crank it up on the way, hope the water’s still warm when the surf session’s over), pouring some into the chest zipper of his wetsuit on a particularly cold winter day on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.****

“If we’re ever both going for the same wave… I’ll let you go.” “Really? I’ll hold you to that.” “Fine.”*****

And, when I told Tanya there had only been one other surfer out when I got in the water, and now there was a crowd ( twelve), and (still glowing from my session), I just couldn’t help adding something like, “Uh, hey, did you see any of my rides?” “Yes,” she said, “we saw you polishing up the waves for us.”

“Um. Yeah; totally.”


BUT THEN (different but related-in-theme story)… Robert, the homeowner whose house I was painting, the customer, leaned into my van as I put on my working shoes. “So, the surfing… you, um, stand up and everything?” “What? Yes. Why?” “Well; you just don’t, um, I wouldn’t think you’re a… surfer. You don’t look like…”

“A surfer? No. And I never did. But… I am. Really. No, really.”

I stood up, possibly a little too close, studying his eyes, just looking to see if he was serious. “I, um, might have thought; maybe,” he said, “maybe more like a… a biker.”

“What? Wait; I know what you’re really saying, Robert. I had a friend who bought a Harley, gained about fifty pounds just so he could look the part.” “No, I didn’t mean…” “No, it’s fine. So, you thought I was the kind of guy who runs around in black leather?” “No. Maybe. I wasn’t trying to… offend.”

“Well; no; I don’t run around in tight black leather.” I had to laugh at this point. “I’m more of a, well, black neoprene guy.”

Robert was a bit reluctant to laugh along for a moment, undoubtedly still picturing me as an easily perturbed biker, possibly with violent tendencies (hey, not judging). So I struck a few surfer poses, including the classic Hawaiian arch. Oh, yeah; there’s a profile I fit. “Robert; please stand back.”

*I stole this title from myself, used “Funny, you don’t write like a Looker” on a piece for my blog, “Stuff That Goes On” at ptleader.com. I also don’t look like a writer, but insist I am.

**He’s called Tugboat Bill because he works on tugboats, typically hauling barges from the inland ocean reaches of Puget Sound to… well, I don’t really know; maybe Alaska. He also builds and sells picnic tables, seems to have on in the back of his truck most of the times I’ve seen him. He gave me a business card, but… Okay I’ll look for it.

***Cash and Tanya are a surfing power couple from the Port Angeles area; in that they both surf. Usually I use the ‘power couple’ title in a sarcastic way; but they’re legit. And nice. If I didn’t mention how impressed I was during the “Tim Nolan and the Wave of the Day” session by Tanya paddling back out against the rip and the tide while I mostly did the ‘run-back,’ I’m mentioning it now.

****The coldest Straits water temperature listings I’ve seen is 43 degrees. I went anyway.  Factor in that most of the surf spots are near rivers coming off the snow-covered Olympics, and the air temperature in the thirties, the rocks on the beach sometimes stuck together with ice; and you get an idea why even temperate water seems warm.

*****I don’t know if this is a ‘one time’ thing, or any wave I want, forever. Eventually, I’ll find out. I’m saving it for when I really really need that one set wave.