Thursday, December 30, 2010

New work from Arts Student League, Pencil, Sumi & Collage

Working with both long poses in pencil and quick poses in collage, sumi ink and a wooden coffee stick, in Nikki Orbach's experimental figure drawing class.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Camper, Christmas email....

This is what I'd call a happy camper, received this first thing Christmas morning from Ted Valentine

Merry Christmas Annie,

I just wanted to thank you so much for the awesome painting. It is absolutely fantastic and I couldn't be more pleased, thanks so much. I just couldn't wait to thank you. My favorite boots ! It will always have a place of honor in our home!!

Thanks so much and best wishes to your entire family for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

The Christmas Commission Project is closed for the time being, but think of next Christmas! I will be opening next year for a limited number of Christmas Commission paintings. In the meantime, back to the studio......

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Christmas Commission Project

Painting from photo below...
Photo of the South End on Lopez Island

Welcome to this year's 2010 Christmas Commission Project. This is simply how it works: For $200, you will receive an oil painting of the image of your choice. It will be an oil painting on canvas, 8" x 10". Subjects could be anything, a favorite place, a person, an animal, something funny, or grand, your favorite dancing shoes. Whatever it is that you choose, I will paint it for you in time for Christmas! Send or bring in a real photo or a digital file and a check for $200 and I will create your painting. It will be mailed or delivered by December 17th.
Contact me at anniehowelladams at or of course, Funk & Junk Antiques when I return to San Juan Island. Stay tuned to see the Christmas Commission Projects Gallery.

Some examples of past Christmas Commission projects of animals, Mr. Smith and Kiddo. Oil on canvas.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's Up, Mural coinsides with Historic Salmon Run

What a day, the panels were put up by Mike Adams, Dave at the Sign Co and Ryan, level, plumb, square, drilled and bolted down. All glitches were solved and the results, well.....a lot of horn honking, thumbs upping, and picture taking.

The Dedication:

   Notes from the Marvel:  I set my alarm early, so early I felt nauseous, in summer, ten minutes to four. I pulled on my sweats, checked the engine oil, started the jimmy-diesel, and jumped  aboard the Donna Mae for coffee while our engines warmed up. The foc’sole of the Donna Mae was Norwegian in style, spare and efficient. The coffee pot bubbled on the diesel stove. There was a small fold down table and hard wooden benches with storage under the seats. It felt big compared to the cramped foc’sole of the Marvel. Nobody said much at that hour as we huddled around the stove with our thick ceramic boat mugs, wondering what the day would bring.....
I used to fish for a living, once it gets in your blood, you never forget it.
This project started as an innocent conversation with Lynn Dannaher, who asked everyone for ideas, back when her building was a football field of battleship gray. Standing out on the sidewalk with her on January 2nd of this year, I pointed to the building and pointed back , and said one word,” mural”. That was it, we started to brainstorm about Friday Harbor's past, and it was immediately clear we both were only interested in one thing: commercial salmon fishing. It was in our blood, we both salmon fished, Lynn with all the net fisheries, and me with hook and line, trolling and long-lining. We started to gather ideas, old salmon labels, a chart of the Salmon Banks, historic photos. The first person I called was Pete Dardinelli, who said,
“call Mike Galligan”
I hit the jackpot with Mike's scrapbook of his father's photos from the 1950's seining off South beach and photos from the back deck of Margaret J. 2 of the panels are from Mike. Pete in the skiff and Waiting to set, taken by Mike when he was 14 years old.
There was nothing more Friday Harbor than the salmon packer, the Nereid, built at Jensen's Shipyard by Nordine's father, Albert Jensen.
Jeri, Nordine's daughter, had the original hand colored photo of the boat, in front of the FH salmon cannery, it was the photo that hung on Nordine's living room wall. She had other San Juan maritime treasures, original photos from the Salmon Trap off of the salmon banks, original photos of men tarring their nets by the old cannery. She discovered this when a photographer developed glass plate negatives that were stored in her attic. 2 panels from Jeri, the Nereid and the King Salmon on the Trap
I called Dale and Carole Marble, Shelle and Ellis Cropper, Kitty Roberts, Skeeter, Jim Capron,Dave Nash, Diane Erickson, and others. I called Sarah Hart who documented fishing through her photography in the San Juans in the 1970's. Nobody knew that at the time, she was documenting the end of an era. While I was gathering images, Lynn was convincing her building partner Dave Moorhouse, that this was a good idea. She was busy convincing the town that we needed this, and got the Port of Friday Harbor on board as well. I was busy with museum conservators, Guerra paint company in New York City, and in general figuring out how to work with light fast acrylic pigments in squeeze bottles. I did this by painting through a ream of large sheets of paper, working up ideas and color palettes for each panel.
The day the town council approved Lynn's permit, I ordered aluminum panels. Ace Hardware had them on the supply truck within 24 hours of ordering, it was a rare case of bing bang boom. I started painting the mural on Memorial Day weekend, right as the BR oil spill was in full swing. I painted listening to that environmental holocaust, I painted listening to baseball games and music, I kept painting.....working , painting, no trips to Turn island, painting.... I kept on painting all summer......and then Something Extraordinary happened. WE heard seiners going out, boats were anchored up at Fish Creek, Fishermen were cruising the Lopez shore. If you recognized it, you could smell the scent of sockeye in the salt air. Let me tell you, there is nothing more galvanizing to a fisherman than hearing about someone else's big set. The waters were full of sockeye.
I went down to the big rock at South Beach early morning in mid-August, crews were standing on deck, the seiners were cued up waiting their turn, As soon as one set started to close the next boat was in position, Like a horse anxious to run. Skiffs were manned and running with wet exhausts, I watched a seine boat take a 360 degree spin announcing he's was about to set. They started their set, the skiff took off towards the beach. The seine net unwound off the drum with the slap of the purse rings as they hit the steel deck and slid into the water. This was a beautiful sight, 40 boats fishing off of South Beach, setting and brailing, just like the old days.
In Shelle Cropper's words,” the mural, it's painting and installation is a magnificent synchronicity, coinciding with the greatest sockeye salmon return in almost one hundred years." Each panel tells a part of our collective fishing story, gill netting, reef netting, seining, packing, right here in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, on our island.
We would like to dedicate this mural, 100 years of Commercial fishing in the San Juan Islands to anyone who has cooked a salmon over an open fire,
to those who have put on clammy wet rain gear covered with fish scales,
to those who have endured jellyfish in their eyes, or web in their wheel,
to anyone who has worked on a back deck covered with fish.
To the Fleet of Friday Harbor,
The Rise and Shine, the Anna J
De Haro, The Bull Dozer,
Kansas, The Defiance, the Primo,
the Night Watch
The Venture, the Intruder,
Elva S, Streaker
Dixie 3. the Margaret J, Pisces
Lillian F, the Blue Horizon
Apollo 11, High Finance
Cindy, The Adventuress
Welcome, the Cork, Spirit The Easy, The Satisfaction
To all those men and women who have lived this great adventure, who have fishing in their blood, we dedicate this mural.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Finished painting!!!

Final varnish next and then installation.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Title Panel with Old Salmon Label

A section of the title panel, inspired by an old salmon label.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Painting Marvel

I painted Marvel twice, once on a mushroom and again in Manhattan and every year during the spring haul out. Fishing boats that over wintered down south had a good shot at a yacht grade paint job, one with glossy marine enamel. I only did that once and switched over to the Alaskan method, Olympic Stain. I have seen it snow in May in Sitka. The chances of getting a good paint job in Southeast were close to 0. Olympic Stain could be painted on in any weather. Bleeding fasteners and long dripping rust streaks always identified a boat as an Alaskan boat.

Vessels stuck with their color schemes. The Donna Mae was old school white with black trim, I could spot that boat anywhere on the horizon. The Helen A had white trim against a dark green hull. The Emma C was white with red trim and a red mortgage strip. Tradition held that when the boat was paid off, the mortgage stripe, or strip of paint between the guard rail and the railing could be painted out. People that had them, liked them, and left them to be a permanent part of the boat.

Marvel's paint scheme was a little outside the norm, ivory hull, midnight blue trim, like the state flag. The accent color was raspberry sherbert, the pinkish color was definitely outside the norm. 2 bronze stars were on either side of the bow and the obligatory foot high fish and game numbers were along side both sides of the wheelhouse. The spring paint job was a time to look things over carefully, make repairs, and spiff everything up. I dutifully hauled out every year, re-zinced and bottom painting, taking several years off my life with toxic paint fumes. No toredo worms, which are actually clams, grew on the hull. Generations ago, the Seattle fleet smartly choose to over winter at Fisherman's terminal, inside the Ballard locks where the fresh water was inhospitable to any worms thinking about taking up residence.

Along with the annual bottom paint, I changed out the zincs. AnB harbor was an electrical hot spot, with power cords drug all through the water, like having a battery charger on all the time, constantly sending voltage into the water. The zincs were there to dissolve first. After the zincs were used up, electrolysis would work quickly to eat away any unprotected steel, like fasteners, bow irons, or keel bolts. Invisible forces were always at work trying to destroy my boat in one way or another.

A huge deck beam ran under the wheelhouse crossing the hull at the widest part. I discovered a small section of rot and chiseled it out. Gluing in a fresh piece of wood was as effective as a band-aid on a cancer tumor. That rotten spot bothered me. Only one word could describe the proper fix: expensive. I monitored that spot and felt lucky not to go down that particular repair road before I sold the Marvel. Now I have another section of wood rot I monitor. Behind the cabin door of my old family cabin, in the same kind of inconvenient spot is a section of rotten wood I have been watching for 20 years. Each year I note that the spot has slightly grown. What started as blistered paint, the size of a bottle cap, grew into an egg and is now larger than a bratwurst. I bring this up from time to time, how the spot is growing, but no one seems to take me or it very seriously. I can't help but worry that rotten spot might sink the cabin.

One summer day, when it was probably 80 degrees in Washington, I was stormed in Elfin Cove. A lot of shore side adventures were done in pouring rain, as our downtime was only during bad weather. It didn't matter too much, since I had the right rain gear. Getting off the water and into the woods was a sensory treat. At a beach fire, most people sat so they could see out to the water, fishermen sat so they could see the trees.

I learned that it was possible to carve into a tree fungus, let it dry and the image would stay. Back in the spruce forest behind the tiny village of Elfin Cove, I found a small fungus. Elfin Cove had 2 harbors, the inner and outer harbor, a plank board walk connected the two. I was tied up in the outer harbor facing the Brady Glacier. Marvel's classic lines looked best from the stern. I stood at the top of the dock, with an awl, and drew into the fungus, the shape of the hull, the guard rail, the stern post, the cockpit with it's high combing, the hatch on the fish hold, anchor gear all coiled next to the capstan, the open door of the wheelhouse, the mast, trolling poles, boom, rigging, front railing, anchor in place, and the little round window on the back of the cabin, near the rotten spot. I neatly lettered :MARVEL ELFIN COVE 1987 around the edge of the small fungus. It was like scrimshaw, or painting with sumi ink, no going back, put down a line, a line so familiar that it was easy. It's always easy to draw something loved.

New York City, 25 years later, about as far away from Elfin Cove and the Alaskan fishing grounds as imaginable. A groundswell runs through the Arts Student League, a current of electric creativity. Someone will have an idea, another artist will pick up on it, and make it their own. At it's best, the Arts Student League is alive with an exchange of ideas from creative minds and aesthetics from around the world. Brian, a county Cork Irishman, and road manager for Radiohead, painted by the door of the morning abstract painting group I attended. He set the pace. If he was painting yellow, pretty soon, someone unconsciously reached for their tube of yellow. By the end of the morning, yellow had made an appearance on various canvases through the studio. At the Arts Student League, people liked to glue things onto their canvases before starting. I didn't have access to my supplies of vintage and antique junk, but I did have an excess of canvas strips cut off of large stretchers. They were frayed and of varying widths, not good for anything, perfect for gluing onto my canvas.

The canvas was heavy gauge sailcloth, serious work canvas. The feel of the cloth awakened a memory, a spring project, fixing a leak in the wheelhouse, the same heavy gauge canvas I used for taking care of my boat. And so I started a fresh 24” square, with strips of canvas glued on, in New York City, in that place, where the highest achievement was to tap into the river of creativity. I painted lines and curves, and painted over those and squeezed out colors I loved: manganese blue, Prussian blue, red oxide, a deep red hovering between copper and burgundy, white,and black. I dove into the river. And when I came up for air, an image of the Marvel started to emerge, the angle of the trolling poles, the sweep of the rail, the belly of the hull, the small round wheelhouse, port and starboard running lights, the sunlight on the water, the way Marvel rode up and over ocean swells. It was a portrait of my boat, done with all the courage and fearlessness it had taught me.

I came back to San Juan Island with that canvas and many others tucked in a roll. It was May, time to get ready for an island season. My old fishing friend George stopped by before heading up to Sitka.

“Did you hear the news?”

“No, what happened?”

“The Marvel sank, down near Port Alexander, they couldn't raise her.”

“Wow, When did it happen?”

“Just last month when you were back East. I'm sorry for the news”

How could the spirit of the Marvel come through my fingertips and out onto canvas? How could the spirit emerge as the boat was sinking?, it's life on the water extinguished? How was it that this boat was more than pieces of wood, a bow stem and a keel? Experience and my stories made Marvel alive. It took 25 years to forget about the work, the smell of the bottom paint and the sound of the jimmy diesel, and to remember what was good, and how interlocked the boat and I were.

I took Marvel to the fishing grounds of Alaska and Marvel took me to places few people experience, From Cape Ommaney to Lituya Bay, I had the best vantage point, the back deck of a salmon troller. The Marvel and I , we had a good run together.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fourth and Fifth Panel, close to done

Early days of the San Juan Fish Co. and On the Radio

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Reef Netters, Hauling Fish, Third Panel

5 x 5' panel, working from old photo reference here in the San Juans, reef netting. My brothers spent their summers on Stuart Island reef netting.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First Panel Done, Waiting to Set on the Margaret J

First completed panel, 13 more to go. 5' x 4' one of the smaller panels.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Panels arrive on the island

Within 24 hours of ordering the panels are sitting in my studio. Imagine if all things could move that quickly! Starting to prep.