American Illustration

vl_seattleHappy to announce that the image above was awarded by American Illustration to be included in the Chosen category in their most recent illustration competition. It was one of 215 from 9175 submitted, makes me feel good. Thanks, AI!

The illustration, of the Seattle’s Pike Place Market, is part of a large campaign that I recently completed. More on that later…

 

Scooter at the Society

Had a great time drawing the surrealistic fashions of Scooter LaForge at the Society of Illustrators the other night. Lots of great patterns, hand painted fabrics, outlandish shapes, and fun eighties-inspired graffiti looks. Scooter himself was pretty down-to-earth, funny, and smart; so that helped too. He described his fashion influences as a mixture of Elsa Schiaparelli and Basquiat, what a great mixture! Julia and I enjoyed talking with him and Sailor Moon, one of the models, after the event on the F train. Scooter’s style brings me back to the gritty funkiness of the 1980s East Village, and I was having a blast soaking it in.

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Scooter LaForge Fashion, Aviator Girl

I call this one Aviator Girl: Great goggles, a bit Mad Max inspired, perfect for lounging around in a club near Delancey Street. The clunky black patent leather platform boots add to the effect, and come  in handy for high-stepping over corner puddles and occasional subway rats!

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Scooter LaForge Fashion, Tartan Girl

Tartan Girl comes complete with surrealistic red and black sequined inner tube, perfect for an impromptu swim in the East River.

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Scooter LaForge Fashion, Waif Girl

Waif Girl puts Kate Moss to shame. Love the slouchy pose and scrunchy clothes. Sailor Moon did a fabulous job modeling this one.

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Scooter LaForge Fashion, Orange 1

This orange kimono-inspired look is more on the romantic side, without sacrificing the mixture of shapes and patterns. The look was complemented with eye-popping orange platform boots and a bright blue hat. Arielle modeled this one, and looked fantastic doing it. Check out the long eyelashes.

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Scooter LaForge Fashion, Orange 2

Here is is again. Love the lattice-worked chartreuse pattern stockings.

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Scooter LaForge and Anelle Miller

At one point Scooter came out and posed with Anelle Miller, the Executive Director of the Society. What a fun night, and the clothes are fantastic. I did a lot more drawings, too many to post!

You can see more of Scooter’s  fashions in his exclusive collection for Patricia Field HERE.

I was there with friends Despina Georgiadis, Julia Sverchuk and Greg Betza.

Check out their blogs as I’m sure you’ll see some of the gorgeous drawings they did there.

Inspire Yourself!

I was at home yesterday, on St. Patrick’s Day, having taken the day off, as it’s my birthday. I had decided to spend the day doing a little spring cleaning. My thought was, I would prepare myself for the upcoming year, and (also) for the rest of my life. A lot of emotional pressure to put on to cleaning out a closet for sure, and I was getting stuck in the rubble of clothing discards. I was feeling very sad as well, missing my beautiful sister, who moved on to another (better) place without me this year. I didn’t understand how to celebrate my birthday without her. As I was sitting on the couch in a funk, I received a happy birthday text from a friend and fabulous artist, SiYeon Lee. She said that she and a few other friends were going to draw ‘my’ parade – the Patty’s Day parade, and that they had been inspired to do so by my reportage work, currently exhibited in the Artists for Art Gallery in Scranton. I thought, why aren’t I inspired by my work? And decided to go out and draw the parade a bit myself.
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As soon as I got off the train on Fifth Avenue, the sounds of bagpipers hit me like a green wave. What a familiar sound! I came around the corner, and saw a cacophony (can you SEE a cacophony?) of Irish faces and blue eyes marching along. I love the eclectic feel of it, and it’s really funny, but the Patty’s Day parade for me is always about those faces…

st-patty's-parade-2-2015Smiling, winking, laughing, and feeling proud – those faces all feel so familiar. I am of 3/4 Irish descent, after all. I recognized the emotion – the twinkle in the eye no matter what – the sense of humor against all odds – such a singular Irish trait, and so very much like my sister. I smiled to myself, thinking that she would like it that I was there, and not moping at home on the couch. It was fun to draw these guys and see the American flag turned Irish for a few hours on Fifth Avenue in NYC. What a great way to get out of my own way for a little while.

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st-patty's-parade-5-2015This parade is very much like a family party – as many people marching on Fifth Avenue as people watching them go by. It is not uncommon for parade spectators and parade participators to know each other, and it feels at times like a small community in the midst of a major metropolis. There isn’t a lot of spectacle in the way of floats or sparkles, just a lot of Irish New Yorkers saying, hey, we’re here and proud to be so! And why not? Irish immigrants built half of this city, after all.

st-patty's-parade-6-2015I love the Irish step-dancers, the young girls with their starched Celtic dresses and their starched pony tails. They remind me of my own 8th birthday party, when my friend Mary taught us all what she had learned of the Irish jig. What fun! The properness of it all mixed with the silliness, this crazy combination that is so familiar to me, (and what I am missing so much about my sister Patty), is here marching through the city. I’m so glad I’ve come.

st-patty's-parade-7-2015And the bagpipes keep coming! You can’t even begin to count them, more and more, so military – after all, the phrase ‘fighting Irish’ doesn’t come from nowhere – and so fantastic. I give up trying to identify them individually and just draw a bunch of pipes moving down the street as a unit. As a clan, if you will.

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I work my way down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as it seems like this is the backdrop and the heart of the entire parade. The crowd is beginning to thin out a bit, and as it does, the packs of young drunken men are beginning to stand out. And I am also smelling something green that isn’t the grass of the Emerald Isle. Time to head home. But as I am about to turn the corner to go downstairs to the subway, I see him – a real live leprechaun! I can’t NOT draw this man, so proper and so full of joy. He seems to be twinkling with a little bit of Irish magic.

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And so, another year of my life goes by, and once again I am reminded on my birthday of the importance of my heritage and the importance of my future. Inspire yourself towards the future, but bring the past along for ballast. And keep those close to you right by your side, always.

Great day, great lesson.

People in Environment Workshop!

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If you will be in Scranton, Pennsylvania this Saturday, March 7th, please come by to the Artists for Art gallery for a day of art! This drawing, above, is one of about 25 pieces of reportage illustration that I will be exhibiting at the gallery, along with art by the talented illustrators Chris Spollen and Kevin McClosky. Chris Spollen will be conducting a hands-on workshop from 10 am to 1 pm, and I will be leading a reportage workshop: People in Environment, from 3:15 to 6:15. There will be an artist talk by Tim Butler from 2 -3 pm.

The opening of the Artists for Art exhibition is tomorrow evening, March 6, from 6 – 9pm.

So if you’re nearby, come on out! And thanks to Ted Michalowski for his help making this exhibition happen.

Show in Scranton

1If you will be in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Friday evening, March 6th, please join us at the Artists for Art gallery for the opening of this exhibit, featuring my reportage work, and the work of two other talented illustrators, Kevin McCloskey and Chris Spollen. The reception is from 6pm to 9 pm, would love to see you there! And on Saturday, March 7th, stop by for the AFA Afternoon of Art, including workshops by Chris Spollen and myself. The Artists for Art gallery is located at 514 Lackawanna Avenue, in Scranton PA. Click HERE for more info!

brooklyn_bridgeBrooklyn Bridge, NYC, drawing made for Brooks Brothers, New York, one of the illustrations that will be in the exhibit.

 

 

Drawing at the Society

This past Thursday evening, Greg Betza, my friend and colleague from Studio 1482, invited me to go with him to the weekly Sketch Night at the Society of Illustrators in NY. The theme was the Hunger Games, and while I am not necessarily up on the latest movie, I have step-daughters, so I have definitely seen the first movie, and have a little info of who Katniss is. (I liked the first movie, by the way, and the storyline too.)

Anyway, I was kind of cocooning in my studio that day and thought, well maybe this is a good excuse to get out a little bit! Plus, the event was organized by Ted Michalowski, the courtroom illustrator who has been a good friend to the studio.

Anyway, it was a fun evening – thought I’d share a few drawings…
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for Patty

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Please consider a donation to Gilda’s Club Westchester, or to Support Connection, two organizations that helped my sister so much.

Thank you, Veronica

Sketchbook Skool

Happy to announce that I will be teaching a klass (yes, with a k!) in the 3rd semester of Sketchbook Skool, the new online school from Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene. Had a great time drawing in the Amsterdam rain with Koosje, and shooting my videos in Brooklyn with Danny!

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Check it out here: http://goo.gl/JE1PvB

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 38th Voyage Part Three: Sailing Through The Mist

This past July, I had the honor of being selected as one of 79 “38th Voyagers” to sail on the restored whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, as she made her way along the New England coast. The program, through Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and partly funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, sought to bring artists, scientists, writers, and other academics on board, to see what their experiences would create.

I was placed in the Provincetown to Boston leg, and what follows is my own experience on the ship:

Part Three

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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As the Charles W. Morgan moved silently through Cape Cod Bay, a thick cloud of fog and mist settled over the ship.

In that magical atmosphere, she seemed transformed into another ship, from another place and time. Which, of course, she was.

Putting our trust in the captain and crew, we on board could not see where we were going, or have any idea how we would get to our destination. I drew slowly, methodically, as the ship moved forward into an unknown future. How fitting this foggy environment was for the next stage of our 38th voyage.

voyage22_foggy_journey

The Morgan had made peace with the whales in Stellwagen Banks, or rather, the whales had made peace with the Morgan. She had accomplished an important mission of healing through that contact, and by her visit to the whale sanctuary she had also brought attention to the plight of the whales and the importance of preserving our oceans for generations to come.

Our next steps are a bit less clear. The Morgan has brought attention to the issues of our oceans, but how will humanity make the changes that will create a new beginning? We move forward now with knowledge of the past, but we must change our course to ensure preservation of our future.

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The helmsman had no way of knowing in which direction he should steer the ship, and the Chief Mate looked out into the distance to follow the tug Sirius, our guiding star. He called back the instructions to the helm.

We, too, can look to those forward thinking individuals who are guiding us, studying the oceans, and showing us the way to the future. One of them, Jean-Michele Cousteau, was on board the Morgan with us, traveling to Boston to speak about the future of our oceans. I only hope that we heed the call of Jean-Michele and other scientists, visionaries who can see through the fog of misinformation that often surrounds us.

chief-mate-sam-looks-over-the-prow-in-fogthe chief mate looking into the fog

As I thought of these things, a lone voice rang out over the deck. I looked up from my drawing, and saw one of the crew members, who had begun singing an old sea shanty. (Shanty comes from the old French “chantez”, or to sing: They were sung by sailors to pass the time and lighten the workload.)

shanty_yellow_ship_fogHe sang a traditional song of inspiration for the crew: “keep on whaling boys!”  He sang soulfully, of noble work, and of the endurance of the human spirit. As he sang, a crew member climbed the rigging to adjust the sails. The dedication of the crew became the perfect metaphor for the next steps of our journey. We can appeal to the noble impulses within and work together, as one of many species living on this planet, to make a difference. As Jean-Michele Cousteau has said so eloquently, we are the only species that has this ability to transform our earth and seas. What an honorable goal.

voyage29_shanty2_legend_of_the_whaleThe sailor continued to sing to a spellbound audience. One old French shanty, The Legend of the Whale, caught my imagination. Sung from the whale’s point of view, the lyrics depict a bemused kind of detachment that the whales might have, watching the whalers in their small boats coming out to attack.

whale-shanty-panoramicthe legend of the whale

One line rang out, at the song’s end: “If they treat each other the way they treat us, we won’t have to worry about them for much longer.”

Whoever wrote those lyrics must have had the same intuition shared by many – that the whales have more knowledge and wisdom than we can understand. Millions of years ago, the first animals left the water to live on dry land, including the ancestors of modern whales. Why did they then return to the oceans? What do they understand that we don’t? Maybe some day we will know. Until then, perhaps we can start treating the whales, and each other, with a lot more compassion.

captain-looks-out-at-fogCaptain Kip gazes out through his binoculars

Captain Kip looked out into the fog, and the call went out – we were approaching Boston! The skyline of the city was a faint shape in the distance.

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Many smaller boats began gathering around us in celebration, and the voyagers and crew ran to the sides of the Morgan to get a better view of the land beyond.

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We passed the lighthouse guarding the harbor,  and the excitement on deck grew. Although we had been towed through the fog by Sirius, there was talk on board that we would be sailing in Boston harbor, untethered, by the power of the wind alone. Freedom!! No one wanted to see the Morgan put under too much strain, but we all hoped she would sail unfettered before we met land in Boston.

While the captain and crew discussed the possibility of a free sail, we 38th voyagers had an opportunity to climb aloft (quite exhilarating and a bit scary, by the way.) The trick is to climb slowly, and never have fewer than three points of contact with the tarry ropes.

whale-dream-2-adjustedlooking down at the Morgan’s deck

As I climbed higher and higher into the sky, one careful step at a time, the reality of the ship below fell away. I no longer heard the crew and passengers below: only the sounds of the wind and the waves filled my ears. From my vantage point aloft, I could see the waters of the bay surrounding us on all sides. I imagined I could look down and see the whales of the past, swimming together, circling our ship, guiding us with their wisdom toward our future relationship with the oceans.

I then imagined that we were sailing on another voyage, a voyage not on any map, but a voyage of the human spirit. A voyage toward a world where our oceans are clean and teem with life, our forests are green and rich, and our rivers run crystal clear. It’s a voyage through the fog and mist, a voyage through the unknown. We can not see the final destination, or even fully understand how we will get there, but it is a destination worth aiming for. We have no choice.

Next part: sailing into Boston

38th Voyage Part Two: Morning Muster

This past July, I had the honor of being selected as one of 79 “38th Voyagers” to sail on the restored whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, as she made her way along the New England coast. The program, through Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and partly funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, sought to bring artists, scientists, writers, and other academics on board, to see what their experiences would create.

I was placed in the Provincetown to Boston leg, and what follows is my own experience on the ship:

Part Two

“Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it, and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with magic.”  Herman Melville

morgan_night_light_stamp

As we slept on the Charles W. Morgan, we were protected by a beacon of light. Hanging above the bowsprit of the ship, this nightlight was a sentinel, letting all other ships know that we were moored for the night.

The morning of our sail, I awoke suddenly in my bunk, wondering why I was rocking. Then I remembered, I had spent the night sleeping on a ship, safeguarded by a night light. I lay there for a moment, wondering if it was time to get up, when one of the crew came into the fo’c’sle and said gently, “OK voyagers, this is your 5:15 wake up call. It’s a little wet out there, so put on some layers.”

I maneuvered myself out of the tight quarters, scurried over to the littlest sink I’ve ever seen to brush my teeth, decided makeup was superfluous, and put a sweatshirt on under my official Voyager t-shirt. I hope I brushed my hair, but can’t be sure I did in my haste to get on deck.

I climbed the ladder up to the deck, thinking of coffee and maybe a roll or pastry, like this was some pleasure cruise. Instead, I was greeted by this sight:

voyage14_sunrise_pulling anchorANCHORS UP!!

The crew was already hard at work, preparing to haul the anchor and get ready to move. They must have been awake at 4 am – they let the landlubbers sleep in, apparently. Crew members were running all over the deck, and Sam, the chief mate, was shouting out orders that were shouted back in repetition by the deckhands. I quickly began drawing the action, coffee can wait!

morgan37and38_anchorsup!_blogcrew co-operation

The pinkish morning light was struggling to take over the white sky as the soft rain barely fell on us. The atmosphere was beautiful and the weather felt very appropriate for our endeavor. The captain began organizing the other 38th voyagers to help bring up anchor. I stayed put on deck near the try pots and drew the scene. The 38th Voyagers were quite excited to be involved in the experience, and several of them looked with unconcealed elation at the stain of tar left on their hands by the rope.

morgan36_towing the anchorAs  a big storm was headed in our direction, the decision had been made for the tug Sirius to tow us most of the way to Boston, assisted by the sails. The crew slid the large cotton sails along the lines of rigging on rings, somewhat like a shower curtain, (although maybe the rain affected my perception of that.) The morning light hitting the sail creating a luminous glow, the rain fell gently, and the air was calm. We were going out to sea.

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I went to the stern of the ship, where Dana was helping un-moor the tug Sirius, so the little boat could maneuver ahead and begin the towing. Sunrise was in full effect and Provincetown slept peacefully while the work to unfurl the sails continued at a frantic pace.

voyage1_dana_disconnects the tug siriusvoyage15_together_thinner

It may be cliché, but I can’t help but remark that a sailing vessel is the perfect metaphor for co-operation. I ran all over the deck that morning, trying to draw and keep up with the sailors as they heaved, pulled, pushed, climbed, unfurled, straightened out, bent, and maneuvered those cotton sails to their will.

The earliest illustration of a ship under sail can be found on a disc from Kuwait, dating from the late 5th millenium BC.  The utter hubris of the thought that we could control the winds and the sea with a few wooden sticks and a piece of cloth is mind boggling, especially when I think of what technologies were not available in those early times. To my untrained sailing eyes, the whole set up feels precarious – “we’re going where, to do what, in what?” – would be my first thought upon joining a whaling voyage. It’s all about rope and sticks, and it amazes me every time I think about how the world changed due to the invention of sailing vessels, and the belief of sailors who trusted the ships with their lives.

voyage18_starboard sheet! _2

The sails unfurled and billowed over the deck as the crew pulled the rigging this way and that. Like trying to control the breath of the universe and bending it to your will. I guess that’s why they call it “bending the sails.” If we could all pull together as a species to heal our environment in the way that this crew pulls together to get the sails up on the Morgan, I think there might just be a chance of leaving something worth having to the next generation.

As I was drawing, Robert and I spoke a little about the poetry of the winds filling the sails, and he mentioned Buddhist breath meditation: the philosophy that simple mindfulness of breath in meditation can lead to enlightenment, and knowing. Watching the white sails unfurling against a whiter sky, I felt certain that this must be true.

Laying out Sails morningBut for the crew, hard work was the meditation of the moment. They moved and breathed as one unit, and got the sails into the correct placement to aid little Sirius in our journey to Boston. The complications of the physics of sailing are myriad, and I am not an engineer, so for those readers interested to read more you can click this LINK as a beginning.

Once the sails were set and the Sirius attached, we began to move. My growling stomach and approaching headache prompted me to go to the stern of the ship, where there was a decidedly modern coffee machine. (Pragmatism wins again!)

voyage4_jean-michele_and_annAs I reached for the coffee, a teasing voice called out, “it’s all gone!”

 It was Jean-Michele Cousteau, the famous scientist, film maker, and son of Jacques Cousteau. I was happy that Jean-Michele was on our voyage, I admired his work and had met him two days earlier in Provincetown, where he had been complimentary toward the mural that Dalvero Academy was doing on the wharf. He had offered some good advice too – keep it simple in your explanation, let the art do the talking. Sweet.

I respect his work, and loved his playfulness on deck. It seems that the most professional people know how to play the best. Definitely a flirt, he moved about teasing the female deck hands, who enjoyed flirting back. In this picture (up and to the left) he is having a more serious conversation with Anne Grimes Rand, president of the USS Constitution museum. And by the way, there was coffee to be had, thankfully. ;)

voyage5_sara_and_anne_talk_history

I sipped my coffee and noticed how even on a ship, everyone congregates around the water cooler, so to speak. Susan Funk told me that this is where we get the term, “scuttlebutt” since the sailors would gather around the barrel with fresh water, a butt (cask) that had been scuttled, meaning a hole put in it for water to get out. So much of our culture stems from the sea, I had no idea.

As everyone talked, I climbed below to have some breakfast: cereal, rolls, fruit. John and I perched on some barrels and talked a bit about the experience so far while we ate. Then we heard a call for everyone to gather on deck.

Captain Kip Portrait colorCaptain Kip Files introduced himself and the rest of the Morgan crew and Mystic staff. He spoke about how thrilled he felt to be the captain of this vessel on this voyage, and the other Mystic people echoed his sentiment. Elysa Engelman, the Mystic museum director, told us that this was the voyage she chose, and how excited she was to be on the Morgan as we arrived in Boston harbor. Museum vice-president Susan Funk nodded in agreement, smiling.Elysa_Engelman_Susan_Funk_2

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We were all asked to introduce ourselves – 38th Voyagers, guests, and patrons – and say a few words about how we arrived on the Morgan, and why we wanted to be there. Some of us had more to say than others, but we all told a similar tale of how we wanted to be a part of this historic event, and how Mystic Seaport was unprecedented to create this experience for us. The former president of Mystic, Douglas Teeson, spoke of the beginnings of the restoration, and how he never imagined she would sail. He graciously thanked current president Stephen White.

And we spoke of how important it was to take the largest and only surviving symbol of our whaling past and environmental degradation, and turn it into the largest new symbol of our changing perceptions of the natural world, and our commitment to heal it. Ryan, the stowaway, added that he felt honored to be the first person to see whales from aloft in 100 years, especially since there was no hunt to follow!

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We all had many things to say.

But Jean-Michele said the most: “I am Jean-Michele. I am a diver.” We laughed, but it was quite profound. Simple humility in the face of nature, a good lesson for all of us.

voyage10_presentation_of_wood_to_captain

And then Thomas Sullivan made a formal presentation to the Captain of the wood  from the Charlestown Navy Yard, that his family had salvaged and donated to Mystic Seaport for the restoration of the Morgan. (Read more HERE.) Thomas has been taking this wood around the world, including sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, and the voyage on board the Morgan was an important part of the trip. The captain gamely thanked Thomas, and photos were taken.

The rain had let up, and people were moving about the deck, settling in as we moved smoothly through the waters of Cape Cod Bay. Robert set up his navigation equipment, there was a videographer interviewing the Second Mate, and people sat in groups, discussing matters great and small.

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Robert with his equipment, John and Carol converse.

Only the crew did not relax, and Sam, the First Mate, was ever vigilant at the prow.

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Paul O-Pecko watches as Sean is interviewed, Sam looks out.

I asked Sam about the 38th voyage, and what he thought he would take away from it. “About 2/3rd of the hull,” he answered, laughing, “we’re gonna cut her off right at the foreshrouds.”

“No, seriously,” he continued, “I’ve taken away a really great experience to sail the real deal, and to have been able to get to know the ship, just a little bit, ’cause she’s such a sweetheart of a sailor. And you can tell why there were people for 90 years who thought it was worth it to take this ship to sea.” I asked him what he meant by that: “She does everything you want her to do, and there’s no mystery to it.  You throw her up into the wind, and she does that the way you want her to, she heaves to, she stops the way you want her to…she’s very docile. And that’s something actually something that often, in replica square riggers,  they don’t do things that you want them to do, or they will end up doing things that surprise you…the surprising thing about this one is it does everything that we think it should do.  From all the accounts that you read of how they used to sail these ships…you sail this one and this one actually does do it. You say, oh, that’s ’cause it’s the genuine article.”

He looked out over the water and continued: “You can’t build this ship again, the way this ship is… you can’t actually replicate this…there’s stability requirements for modern construction, things that alter the shape, and the intent, and the spirit of what these ships were, just enough that you have these sort of unintended consequences that you almost can’t really measure in the sailing qualities, but you just know that they’re not there.”

sails with fog and purple

“It’s like the difference that makes the difference,” I said, quoting Gregory Bateson.

“Right,” he replied, “…and this whole ship, it’s a painting, it’s this piece of artwork with all these details, that if you take one shade of purple out of the painting it looks a little different, but you’re not really sure why.”

Beautifully said.

I wanted to ask him more, but he very quickly had to get back to work. More yelling, pulling, heaving, calling out, and such, as the deck became alive again with the movements of the sailors. The weather had shifted, and the sails had to shift with it.

“Round the Corner Sally!”

The call out and repeat of a traditional work shanty rang out across the deck. The shanty singing kept spirits high and muscles strong as the sailors pulled the line to get the sails where they needed to be. You could just see the adrenaline pumping; it was thrilling to watch.

voyage20_work_shanty_wash

And the crew was in the rigging, and the sails shifted again…

voyage 16_working the rigging…and the fog rolled in.

fogCaptain Kip Files and Chief Mate Sam Sikkema look out into the fog.

a member of Studio 1482