For weeks now I’ve had my eye on a colorful boat on dry dock at Swantown in Olympia. It has all the qualities a sketcher goes after – not just red (and every other)color, but shapeliness with all sorts of energetic edges and angles, assorted flags flying merrily in the breeze, and most of all, it literally vibrates with stories spanning many decades.
I finally got over there last week on a sunny but cold and windy day. I’d heard the owner was himself a raconteur and hoped to meet him. Dorje is his name and he was generous with his stories as I stood in the cold hoping to last long enough for a sketch. The boat’s name is Dharma Kun Dunga (I believe) though there are no boats of its kind in mountainous Tibet. It’s oriental beginnings were sometime in the 1910’s and it had at some point been fished out of a sea where it had sunk. (I was struggling to catch the fast moving story!) Dorje told me the boat had belonged to him for about 25 years and the murals were his own creation. He had the air of an art lover and swashbuckling seafarer, even while in dry dock. I couldn’t wait to sketch!
Something about this fellow and his independent spirit loosened up my pen and paints and let me throw caution to the wind. The ink drawing happened on site, and the mixed media painting, at home in my studio once my fingers had thawed. The last thing was the black shadow which seems to reach out for more adventure – the boat’s and my own!