Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kent Lovelace as Sisyphus 1953 - 2017

 I can't sum up the past week, its been a total haze. The passing of my father at the age of 64 came as a complete surprise to everyone around him. No health issues to speak of, no history of heart problems, no warnings, just an early weekday spent working on his house. My father suffered a heart attack while building his new home - and when I say building his new home, I can't stress enough what that means. The small piece of land was his 'last project', the one he would grow old with. He purchased the couple acres of forested land a few years ago and started to pick the trees off of it with chainsaws and tractors. He then spent a year cutting, milling and drying those logs; this is the wood he used to begin building his new home. Walking around in circles this week considering the scope of his project opened windows in mine and my two brothers minds about the scope then, of his whole life, and exactly how much power it took to conquer what he had. That one project was a massive undertaking by anyones imagination - to then remember back farther becomes shocking, almost frightening.

My father considered this project doable, and had no reservations about his ability to do it, because he had done it before. This was roughly his 5th home-buiding project in 40 years. He raised us construction zones, homes which he would remodel, reconfigure, rebuild, or imagine completely. Bringing them to life with his own two hands and the help of the family and friends he could convince to lend their time. I believe that one of these projects alone would have convinced any normal human that they had done enough. I believe that replacing the cabinets alone in one house would be enough for a normal person, he though was not so normal.

He did these things while raising three sons and connecting a world of artists by way of his lithography business, Stone Press Editions. Stone Press was considered the place to be for artists in the pacific northwest, the air seemed thick with imagination and sweat, darts, ink, heavy paper and leather aprons, at least as I remember it. He printed for the masters, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Bateman, Russell Chattham, Dale Chihuly, and dozens more. He was considered a master by anyone's judgement, though mastery of anything never seemed to be the goal. He always seemed then to create more, and more. Prolific, is the word. He did not see laurels to rest upon, only projects to begin.

With Jacob Lawrence at Stone Press, early 1990's

To grow up in this world seemed like nothing, my older brother and I scribbled, whittled, built, whined, helped as we could, and built countless bike jumps out in front of the shop.

Fishing with Aaron on the left, myself under-wing, early 1990s'.

Enter the digital age, when printers would wipe lithography off the artistic map. For decades my father and those around him knew he eventually wanted to be a fine artist in his own right. Constantly creating his own work, but not showing or releasing it - from what I can gather now, he felt he wasn't ready. It is this early work I remember watching him create at home, in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.

When he closed Stone Press, he let loose on this dream. In just a couple years, landscape painting became everything, and his shows started to sell out across the western half of the US. He developed a technique that had been lost for centuries, by painting with oil on copper plates, his work began to take on a life of it's own. His work is now in private and corporate collections worldwide, museums, galleries and the rest. He found his stride, was remarried, had another son, Nolan, moved north and built a massive dream home, garden, a heard of sheep and ducks, and an art studio that was unrivaled.

With his sheep, around 2010

With Nolan, early 2000's

I realize I'm jumping around a but here, but what I want to make very clear, is the sheer amount of heart, manpower, determination and passion my father led his entire life with. It was rarely all good times, but he took comfort and taught us the importance in getting the know that shadows as well as the light. The whole picture was what he was in love with - he knew well in his later years that he could not love the sunshine without romancing the darkness as well. I am scared and sad, though now I realize how large his footstep are, and how naturally his three sons seem to fill them. In the past years, he found true happiness. It seemed to us that the stress he had carried for years had passed, and his gaze had lowered into a peaceful place - I keep saying to myself that he was up on plane, like a well designed surfboard or boat. Life seemed to stop grabbing at him, perhaps his deepest project was finished. I don't know. I do know he spilled love. He poured his gratitude over those he cared for, and made his feelings and appreciations well known to us all. He said many things in the past number of year that I had never heard him say before. He made us all so proud. My father was superman of the heart, mind and hand. He is unrivaled, and still here.

With recent work.

If you would like to learn more about my father's art and life, Lisa Harris has written a beautiful snap shot of his career here

Friday, January 20, 2017


I've been working on a pair of experimental boards inspired by two of my favorite space-cadets, Mick Mackie and George Greenough.  I spent the first half of this winter riding a 7'10 edge gun (GG kind, big edge, flat deck, fat rails), and have more recently had my mind bent by a 6'10 Mackie sidecut fish (EPS).  The two boards at first glance share little in common, but after spending some really flawless and similar days on both boards I found the sensations and attributes of each weren't too far apart, and could likely borrow from each other somehow.  Both boards have an extreme hydroplane effect - the Mackie using the front end of the board for paddle power and lift, then the side-cut and tail providing all the looseness and speed one could ever ask for once the board is on plane (of course, this is oversimplifying the complexities of the design).  
The edge bottom gun does something similar in the way that the front end of the board provides seemingly limitless amounts of lift, and the tail end is the operating zone, where you pilot this big missile-board from (oversimplified but you get the idea).  

Being that our local waves are fast, smallish, and steep, both boards seemed to have small drawbacks that didn't limit the boards potential, but absolutely opened doors in my mind for how to modify the shape to explore something new for myself that might kind of work.  Like I said this is an experiment, and to quote GG, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."
I want to be clear also, that the design here was meant to accomplish one thing - Lots of connectivity, with extremely clean realease while planing at high speed in above average, fast, down the line conditions.  The idea wasn't to make the perfect board, but to chase a feeling.  'Peak Moments', as Mick describes them.  Maxed out sensations in specific situations and conditions.
The idea was to take the Mackie's tail end which felt flawless and fast, and use the edge bottom design to lift the forward part of the outline out of the water once at speed - thus lessening the effect of the slight bulge in the outline while driving hard down the line off the front foot.

Just before Mick left Santa Barbara a few weeks back, he and I got a chance to visit a small collection of 80's Greenough windsurfers that had just been purchased by a local collector - After thinking about mashing these two designs together it hit me that a big, releasing wing like the ones on George's old high-speed sail boards would provide the necessary room for the tail end of this idea to operate on its own, and at the same time allow some of the extremeness of the outlines curves to be lessened - The hard edge nose to tail on Mick's fish was basically stretched and narrowed, then set into the outline of a kind of speed-egg of sorts.
The venture here was not to make a board that was better or perfect or even super 'useable' - but more to see if I couldn't combine some of the new favorites in my quiver, that seemed like they could enjoy some of the benefits of the other, and make an excruciatingly fast, positive, responsive SOMETHING that would keep me entertained and excited during a few week long flat spell.  Lots of my favorite boards have come out of a need to shake it up a little and this pair follows suit.  Averaging 2-3 hand-shaped boards per day 5-6 days a week, shaking it up a bit every now and then is a must!
There is a lot more physical exploration to do with these (by that I mean surfing!) and I'm hesitant to say too much before they've been surfed into the ground, but after a few sessions on the 7' (shaped out of Varial foam) I'm extremely optimistic about the smaller (EPS foam), which should hit the water tomorrow as this swell fills in.  So far it feels lively and connected off the tail, with the highlight of a ride being a biiiiig long swooping kind of line top to bottom.  We've been filming the sessions, and there will be a follow up video of the build and first few surfs with multiple different surfers - we'll have to be patient for that one, as the waves have to cooperate too ;)

The 7'10 edge gun

The board on the left is the 6'10 EPS Mackie Designs fish that I've become so fond of in the last two weeks.

Greenough sail board detail - all surfaces are convex, all edges extremely crisp and clean.
Super efficient and I can only imagine super fast!!

The 7' - shaped out of Varial foam.  note the edge includes the side-cut, making the board transition onto rail super clean and quick.

Mid-glassing the 7'.  Polyester resin, Varial foam, carbon fiber + kevlar flex panel tail.  In this photo I was filing the final layers on the tail before hotcoat and sanding.  The layers for the tail were added two at a time and let cure before deciding to add more or not - the final layup is about 8 layers, staggered, and layed up on the bias.  Very soft with a long accelerating curve when flexed - no hinge.

The 5'8 ( x 19" x 2 1/2") EPS foam, epoxy resin.  Double layer 4oz bottom, 6+4oz deck with a carbon deck patch, and the carbon flex tail.  This tail's flex is much snappier, and the length of the panel shorter, figuring that since its a smaller board, it'll be surfed in shorter, quicker lines than the larger version.  After surfing the 7', I'm encouraged about the possibilities of the 5'8.

You can see a clip of Trevor Gordon swooping on the 7' here:


Me on one of the better waves I got during the first session, lots of speed to burn, though theres little accounting for the turd trying to burn it :)