Monday, November 12, 2007

How to make a painting

Recently, I mentioned to my First Mate that I was now blogging. In HER blog, ( she started to brag about my "many talents" and I thought, "Gee. Why not share a little about the other side of my life... the side not directly related to boat reconstruction?" So, I offer here a little diversion:
One day we went walking through the park in downtown Guaymas and I started taking photos. Once downloaded to my computer I started pawing through the images for A STORY. Paintings can be hard work, time consuming, frustrating! Don't waste your time making something that just matches the curtains or the new sofa. Tell a story. And in one of my 8 or 10 photos, I found a Mexican Car Wash... look carefully at the center of the above photo.

I printed out a color version of the area I wanted to create and transferred the image to a canvasboard. The first step is to use a wash of thinner and oil paints to establish shadows, large areas of color, skin tints... the works. I often find that as I progress through the painting, some of these washed-in areas are perfect the way they are... I just leave them alone.

Then I start mixing paint and dabbing in the regions I want to define: the characters in my story... This is when I may experiment with changing the colors of clothing, cars, whatever... that needs to be either brought in the foreground or pushed back because it doesn't add to the story. In this case, I didn't change much. I did, however,  make the car a brighter red to create a focal point in the center of the composition.

In the version above I thought that maybe the iron lampposts would look good as wrought iron black, but as you can see, they seemed a bit overpowering and I moved back to white... something you can do in oils. In watercolors, you're stuck with what you put down first most of the time.

Here also, you can see that I am working in a triadic primary palette. The blue, yellow and red dominate the color space and really bring the scene to life... 

The strong shadows in the background emphasize the brightness of the day, the warmth of the climate, the clarity and quality of the light in Mexico.

A few more hours of detail work and the "Mexican Car Wash" will be ready for framing and a place on my wall.

Getting way out there.

This is what we call the Flying Saucer Version.
Looks different, huh? Is it feasible?
Hey! It's PLASTIC! Anything is feasible!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

One year later...

Yesterday was the anniversary of the first time I saw the GF and stepped aboard. I had purchased the vessel from photos I had been emailed by the last owner... hmmm, perhaps I should tell the story?

For the last couple of years, I had been perusing the internet for a larger boat. But the interior designs/photos I had seen were tight, crowded and dark. It occured to me that if I could design my own interior, I could have a boat that serves my needs and not the needs of some strange sailor/owner profile... so I started looking into damaged boats, hurricane vessels, and the like.

As I continued the process, I started getting an idea of the ideal hull for a project boat: I wanted it to be already gutted out to save me the work; I wanted a boat over 40 feet in length; I wanted a modern, fast, efficient hull shape that could give me a good turn of speed and sail upwind well; it had to be cheap; and it had to include all the standing rigging in good shape; I didn't care whether it had a motor or not, I would probably repower anyway; and I wanted a center cockpit with a nice large aft cabin.

My reasoning was that I might not be able to purchase a 40 foot boat outright, but I could pay for the materials over time as I needed them, and labor rates in Mexico are a fraction of stateside prices.

Last fall, I noticed a posting on the Morgan Owners discussion board about a project boat going up for sale. (I also own the Morgan 33 Out Island, Bliss). The vessel was located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The owner had been struggling with physical problems (a torn rotator cuff) and hadn't been able to do much with the boat. Then, his wife reached retirement age and was quitting her job, his house sold, and now he had the cash to go out and buy the cruising boat he wanted to sail off into the sunset with his wife. He could sell the project cheap and get out from under the storage costs.

Russ and Shelley Terry sent me the pictures of the boat, along with construction estimates, and lists of included gear. It matched my list above to a "T". Actually, it was even better... it was a Morgan! And I knew Morgans, and about Morgans, and all the people who owned Morgans.

Time for the morning cruisers net on channel 72 in San Carlos, Mexico. I'll continue later...

Monday, October 29, 2007


Is pretty slow, 'cause I still have a gazillion things left to doo after the book was done. When you put off stuff for two months, it starts to back up.

But Carlos is spending some time stripping off the toe rail (some of it was redwood!) so that we can cut the deck loose and roll it off the hull.

I think if I stick around a week, we can have the deck and cabin off. Then I want to sail across the sea for a week in the other boat. Things are getting tricky now... we still have to get the mast off the boat and that thing is long (62-1/2 feet) and heavy (who nose?)

More later.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The Green Flash On the trailer in Ft Lauderdale.

Concept illustration.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm baaaaack....

I just returned (3 pm) from Tucson, having mailed off all the stuff we need to send out to have our book printed this year. ( The next process will be to create a 200+ page website for this year's edition... but that isn't promised until Jan. 1, 2008.

So, that means I can start work on the Green Flash, and that has me excited. My spousal unit is in the plains states, placing her aged mom into a fancy active adult community for the rest of this week and will drive her mom's car to Mexico after changing the title over. (This means we now have 6 vehicles: a 27' motorhome, 2 sedans, 2 VW buses, and a pickup truck (if you don't count boats (2), dinghies (2), mopeds (1), and bicycles (6)).)

Do not ask me how this happened... but it's time to start selling off some of these things.

My carpenter friend, who once worked building boats (sort of... they were houseboats (sailors I know call them "Delta Destroyers")), is ready to help me remove the decks and cabintop from the Flash. Then we can clean out the interior and start getting bulkheads and framing built. This removal part will probably get pretty nasty, with the fiberglass and crud from years of neglect... but the difference should be startling. I hope so, I need encouragement. My friend currently goes by the name of Carlos, and I will pay him a pittance... which means he will get more than I pay Mexican workers. He's an American and the time I spend not explaining the work to him will pay off. Plus, his Spanish is spectacular, and if I need to bring in more crew, he can run them for me. (I can speak some Spanish as well, and I eavesdrop a lot. Most of what I hear is swearing...). OK Enough for now. I need some music.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

and this is the Good side...

The Green Flash (former Scarlet Lady and several other names) sits awaiting restoration in a desert lot in San Carlos, Mexico. The fence is nearly complete, the work has begun on another scaffold, the 4 kw Onan generator is getting a tune up, a half-ton crane has been purchased and will be converted to electric to lift materials to the deck of the boat. More infrastructure has been added, including a 6'x12'x6' trailer, portable toilet, band saw, air compressor, table saw, pressure washer and work benches. The cooler weather starting in October will be the time when we start the heavy work of removing the rotting decks and cabin, cutting new bulkheads and installing structural beams for the new topsides.