I’m a fan of big-wave surfing. One winter I was on a painting trip in Oahu, when I went for a drive to the pipeline to watch some of the big wave surfers catch some big ones. That day the waves were enormous and only about six surfers were out. Scores of surfers and tourists sat on the shore and watched in awe at these tiny specks, dwarfed by massive crashing waves as high as buildings, and marveled at the courage of man.
Last week was the Mavericks Surf contest in Half Moon Bay and today the elite of the world surfers wait on call, for the go ahead for Eddie Aikau invitational big wave surf event at the Pipeline in Hawaii, for the waves to meet the 40 foot requirement. The New York Times ran an article on the preparation these surfers put into their craft. As well as being superb athletes they spend hours studying weather patterns, ocean currents and whatever it takes to understand the movement of the ocean. Such painstaking preparation can mean the difference between life and death. With waves over 50 foot high there is no room for error.
I paint on location. The first thing I do when I arrive in a beautiful place such as Hawaii is spend a few days just looking at the ocean. Studying it’s waves, it’s light, it’s energy until I feel I have reached an understanding of the special gifts that the location has to offer. This is absolutely vital if you want to capture the spirit of a place on the canvas.
Art is like surfing. You have to love it and be willing to do whatever it takes to master your craft. You have to have a big vision and you have to have a big passion for the vision that you want to share with the world. You have to be willing to whatever it takes to get it out in the world. I can think of no more noble calling than to help up a torch for what is great and beautiful and light. The following picture is one of the great surfing locations on Maui. I painted it because when I watch Big Wave surfers I am transported into a place that reflects the courage and grace of the human spirit, dancing with the enormous power of Nature. A great piece of art like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or one of Turners paintings does the same thing for me. So how about you, what inspires the arti spirit for you?
Big Wave by Josse Ford.