“Storm Petrels with Blue Shark” is wet on the easel, and due to be unveiled at my annual open studio this coming Sunday. It was inspired by my trips to the Channel Islands, where I’ve seen both blue sharks and storm petrels on my latest couple of trips. As I’ve recently witnessed first-hand, Storm Petrels are one of nature’s most elegant creations. They spend their entire lives at sea, save for nesting, and their long legs are so specially adapted to their unique niche that they are useless for walking. As ungainly as they are on land, they are even more graceful at sea. Small flocks will gather in open water and bob quietly until there is a breeze. Then, all facing into the wind, they spread their wings and hoover just over the water, flapping only occasionally, their long webbed feet walking on or just below the surface as they feed on bits of food that float on or just below the water’s surface. (You can watch a short video of this behavior here )
Just two months ago, on a short trip to Santa Barbara Island we saw at least 20 juvenile blue sharks in one day. The idea of juxtaposing these, deadly predators which can reach monstrous sizes, with the petite, delicate and graceful storm petrels was then born, and for a couple of months I considered the presentation of the scene before deciding on focusing on the petrels with the shark silently gliding past, it’s iconic wedge- shaped fin eluding to the teeth and muscle below. This contrast makes the petrels feel all the more delicate and beautiful, and I have found it a most compelling and rewarding project to combine the two in this scene.
Just last week I was out again at the islands on a painting trip to Santa Cruz Island with the intention of exploring the sea caves by kayak. Heavy chop and huge swells made the caves too dangerous, so I spent my time on the boat, painting the coast from the water. The constant motion of the water was both intense and ceaseless, and it gave me the idea of putting the petrels in rough seas as a way of acknowledging their ability to endure weather of all kinds with no shelter. Delicate they may be, but of such a hearty and enduring composition as to inspire any sailor. Captain Dan of Sail Channel Islands (my Island project sponsors) made a wonderful short film about me painting on the trip which is a real pleasure to watch. You’ll get some sense of what it’s like painting from the water- especially the dinghy- in this entertaining video. You’ll also get to preview a few of the paintings I did on the trip: click here to see them.
I’ll be giving a tour of all of my available island paintings this Sunday, December 6th. Because of the popularity of this tour, I’ve added two additional “overflow days”, December 12 and 13. If you wanted to attend but couldn’t make the event on Sunday, you may contact me for an appointment the following weekend. (see below for RSVP instructions)
P.S. I wanted to give a special thanks to my newest sponsors, Scubahaus in Santa Monica (www.scubahaus.com). They’ll be getting me certified and out in the Marine Sanctuary to gather more inspiring experiences which will find their way into my project and my art. To learn more about my Channel Islands Museum Exhibition, and the forthcoming documentary film about my work on the islands, visit http://home.ei sf.org/node/1057
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6 from 12-4 P.M., Thousand Oaks, CA:
As I’ve all but left the gallery world entirely for the past few years, my studio is always open by appointment. Once each year, however, I open the doors for a public viewing of my work and holiday party. In recent years, I’ve had to limit the attendees to 50 guests so that I might be able to at least say hello to each visitor. RSVP is required. Simply reply to this email with RSVP in the subject line, and give your name, the date you would like to join us, and how many will be in your party. Directions are given to those who confirm.