CAPTURING THE SPIRIT OF SAILING SHIPS FOR 54 YEARS
My interest in the sea and shipwrecks began in 1966. I was the radio operator on a US Air Force Air/Sea Rescue “Crash-boat”. Built in 1944, the high speed 63 foot wooden rescue boat gave me an uncommon opportunity to experience the sea and wonder about what lies below.
In 1968, I was on a Forward Air Control team attached to the Army in Vietnam. Maps became my sketch pad for drawing the things that caught my eye. But the Vietnamese fishing boats sailing out to the South China Sea caught my imagination.
In 1970, I joined other artists working on Jackson Square in the New Orleans French Quarter. I drew pen & ink sailing ships on nautical charts and sold them right off my work board. I learned the art of scrimshaw and worked with watercolors and oils; but the challenge of pen & ink is my passion.
My drawings are of actual ships and most were lost at sea. I find their stories in old newspapers, insurance records, Admiralty Court cases and government reports. I gained an understanding of sailing ships by sailing on working tall ships in the Atlantic and on the Great Lakes. As a licensed pilot I learned to feel the wind and understand weather in the three dimensional world of flying – an even more unforgiving environment than the sea.
Each ship begins with a basic spontaneous pencil sketch. Then I create the entire drawing using a single technical pen with a point diameter of five thousandths of an inch – the same size as a single human hair. Completely self-taught, I developed my own technique for building up the details, shapes, textures and shadows by layering thousands of tiny pen strokes. My one-of-a-kind drawings are done free-hand, based on my research and the image of the ship that I see in my mind.