I hope you’re all having a pleasant winter. It’s an exciting time for me, as my island project is swinging into it’s final stages. Several prominent museums have signed on to host the show, the book is about to get underway, and the film is in it’s final stages of shooting. I’ve scheduled a trip for March back out to the islands, this time with the camera crew and producer along for the ride. My SCUBA certification will hopefully be completed around the same time, and I’m really looking forward to doing some paintings of the Marine Sanctuary from the other side of the surface.
Until I’m diving, however, I’ve contented myself with taking on at least one more view of the Sanctuary from the top side, in “The Teeming Seas”. I’ve lost count long ago of how many times I’ve been in the presence of large pods of dolphins like these in the channel, racing after squid, tuna, sardines, and other baitfish. Each time it happens it’s still an emotionally charged experience which can easily overwhelm the senses.
These are Common Pacific Dolphins, and they can be seen on nearly every boat ride to the islands, riding bow waves in small groups or feeding in “superpods” of hundreds or even thousands of animals, compressed cheek-to-jowl in a frenzied display of strength and stamina. While the words that might likely come to mind when one mentions dolphins might be “cute” or “sweet”, to see them in the hunt conjures other descriptors, such as “powerfull” or “predator”. This is how I’ve chosen to depict them, swift and sturdy predators who hunt in large social herds on the open seas, whipping the surface to a foaming white froth in their insatiable quest for their favorite foods. Once you’ve seen this from a small boat, you’ll never forget the sounds which accompany the spectacle… the squeaks and clikcs of the dolphins, the popping sound of a “chin-smack” as certain dolphins will do to signal other dolphin pods that food is in the area, or the sound of hundreds or even thousands of dolphins launching themselves from the water and smoothly re- entering the briny depths.
If you’re interested in learning more about this exciting project, I’ll be giving a talk and multimedia presentation at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum from 6:30-7:00pm. I’ll start with a half hour discussion in front of my painting “Twice Humbled ~ Orcas off Anacapa, Noon Light” (preview the painting Here) which is on loan to the museum through this summer, and then we’ll move to the media room for about an hour of paintings and stories from the show as it currently stands. The museum has been very kind in supporting this evening program at no cost to the public, and we have lots of room to welcome even a sizable crowd. This is a great chance to have a fun, free night out full of art and laughter. Producer/Director Susan Semberhas promised to join us with a teaser clip or two of her forthcoming film about my project, “The Painted Islands”. It’s being filmed in glorious all-digital HD, and promises to be spectacular (at least the scenes where I’m not blocking the landscape). For directions, etc. you can visit the Santa Barbara Marine Sanctuary’s website, www.SBMM.org.
For those of you who are looking to take a workshop with me this spring, now is the time to sign up for the Studio Techniques for the Plein-Air Artist workshop I’ll be teaching March 26-28 in the San Fernando Valley. Call or write me for more info. I’m also planning a Rural Louisiana Workshop April 19-23 painting the little fishing villages along the southeastern part of the state, a plein-air painting workshop on Quadra Island in British Colombia July 5-9 and another in Santa Barbara from July 14- 18. I don’t have anything on the calendar yet for Tennessee, but I’d like to get back there this fall if I can schedule it. I also want to take two students on the luxury sailing yacht, Sancerre, for a cruising and painting trip to the Channel Islands in June or August- upscale food and wine included. If that sounds like your cup of tea, let me know now. We can dive, too, if you’re up for it. This will be a perfect trip for a husband and wife artist team, or any two artists who love spending time together learning. For more information on any of these workshops, you may visit my workshops page at dgallup.com by clicking Here .
I’ll be looking forward to seeing those of you who wish to join me in Santa Barbara for the lecture night about the project, and I’m sure we’ll all get a chance to chat afterward. If you can’t make it, I hope to see you at other art events around the southland in the near future.
Special thanks to all of my sponsors for this project- I couldn’t do it without you!The Bill and Marilyn Field Trust
The National Park Service
The Nature Conservancy
Essential Image Source Foundation
Sail Channel Islands
and, of course, all of my Collectors who have purchased work from the upcoming exhibition, and who will be loaning it back for the museum tour.
I look forward to working with you all again this year as our project nears completion!