Monday, May 23, 2011

Hippy Glamour -- 50s style

 I've become more fascinated recently with the 1950s era of fashion, culture and surfing. I can't tell you how many times I've watched Bud Browne's Surfing in the 50s (and yes, on VHS!). Browne, the father of surf movies, captured some of the greats in his films, including Dewey Weber,  Buzzy Trent, Phil Edwards, Peter Cole, Linda Benson and Marge Calhoun, who is my favorite all-time female surfer.
Calhoun, Benson  and the other pioneering women from  this era had such style and grace, not to mention chutzpa for riding big surf on heavy logs sans leashes and wetsuits. And they were super stylish in their '50s bathing suits (I'm actually on the hunt  for one now, similar to one worn by Calhoun in the Surfing in the 50s film).
Many of the bathing suits during this era were fashioned by none other than the "Million Dollar Mermaid" herself -- Esther Williams. The  former competitive swimmer and starlet-turned bathing suit designer set the stage for classic, stylish and quality beach-going and wave riding attire. During my grand quest for such a suit  I came across some really great vintage wear sites, including Esther Williams ( and a cool blog called GlamourSplash ( 
I'm inspired and stoked to see this style of suit still being made. It's funny how the pioneers in fashion and surfing back then were making "modern" advances, and how today we want to reverse back to that time.  It was a time before polyurethane foam, plastic fins, Roxy, SUPs and everything made in China for cheap. I, for one, vote to go back to that era of classic, quality fashion and surfing, even if it means I can't wear a wetsuit.
Esther Williams

Marge Calhoun

Linda Benson

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Climate Change rap..yo!

The earth’s climate is influenced and changed through natural causes like volcanic eruptions, ocean current, the earth’s orbital changes and solar variations. However, climate change is now a global concern due to humans' growing heavy footprint on the Earth. Whether you believe that climate change and global warming are really happening, check out this great rap video. It does have some expletives at the end but it's a great message.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beatnik Batik

Charlotte Quinn has never been a city type girl. Quinn, who grew up in Kill Devils Hill in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, spent her childhood living the laid back beach lifestyle roaming the beaches, sand dunes, and woods with her two sisters. Her parents were both artists – her dad a ceramics major who became an art professor, and her mom a sculptor and print maker. The apple didn’t fall far from that tree. Quinn, who earned her art degree from East Carolina University School of Art in 1991, came back to the Outer Banks (where she now lives with her husband, Jim and daughter and son) to make a life of her own and to carve a niche in a unique art form – batik.
Batik is an art medium and methodology for creating design, usually on cloth, by applying wax to portions of the material and then dyeing it, then removing the wax. This can be done to make vibrant colors and incredible designs. Batiks origins can be traced back to Asia, India and Africa. Some say the word is of Malay roots and translates "to write" or "to dot.”
I was impressed when I first saw Quinn’s whimsical batiks on silk. (Hard to believe  that one of Quinn’s art professors told her she would never do much).
I’ve also been inspired by Quinn’s lifestyle on the Outer Banks – one that is simple, beautiful, soulful and artful.  When she is not creating her art, the body boarder is often at the beach with her family.
Below are some musings from Quinn about her art and lifestyle.

Describe your artwork and the process of making a batik.
CQ: My medium of choice is batik on silk. Batiks are a wax resist dyeing technique in fabric.  So basically wherever the wax is, the dyes won't go.  Many batik or silk painting artists are very precise in their drawings/ painting techniques with the resists and dyes.  I am very gestural when using my Indonesian Tjanting  tool ( the tool that holds the hot wax that I use for my drawing onto the silk).  I incorporate the drips of wax in an impressionistic way as well.  I do sketches, what is on the fabric is all drawn freehand.  When mixing my dyes I'm like a mad scientist –  this would horrify my old art professors.  Exact measurements? What is that?  It is time consuming as well as hard on your back.  I work flat with the stretched silk resting on two sawhorses.  I draw with wax onto the fabric. Then I brush my dyes on, and then wait for the dyes to dry and start the process all over until I get to a point where I think the piece is ready to be washed.  Depending on what I pull out of the washer depends on whether or not the batik is to the point I consider finished.  If I don't like it, I start the process all over.  I once had a fairly well known surf artist tell me, after watching me do a demo, 'It would be a lot easier if you worked in watercolors.'
It would be, but I simply love working in this medium.  As for my subject matter of choice, I love doing surf art.  I enjoy my flowers and other subject matter as well, but I get lost in my waves and surfers.  I plan on doing some batiks featuring musicians, skateboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, of course my note cards and  some more watercolor paintings. I'm also thinking of doing some wood block printed T-shirts.

How did you choose batik as your medium of choice?
CQ: Ever since I was a kid I've either drawn or painted, and I took an art class or two in high school, but  I was never into art. Originally when I was accepted  into East Carolina University School of Art in 1987, I was going to study environmental design.  Well that didn't last long. I fell in love with my fabric design and my printmaking survey classes. I couldn't decide between the two so I majored in both.  In fabric design I studied everything from silk screening, to  weaving, to, of course, batik.  I had learned how to sew in high school and loved working with fabrics.  So playing with fabric and designing my own was very appealing.  I loved to draw, and print making seemed like a logical way to mass produce my drawings.   Jim and April Vaughn, owners of Whalebone Surf Shop, liked some of my body boarding drawings from one of my classes, bought the designs and had them made into T-shirts for their surf shops. They were my first real art clients in 1988.  Once I graduated in 1991, and had to buy my own art equipment for silk screening and printmaking, I quickly found out that batiking in my apartment was a cheaper route to go.  I figured at some point I would get around to being able to afford the equipment that I wanted for my  future studio. In the mean time, I grew to love the batiking process even more.  I figured out a shorter more economical way to removed the  excess dyes and wax from the silk, as well as a better way to secure my silk in the framing process.  I was taught to use a staple gun, thumb tacks are much easier to remove if you have to remove the batik from the stretcher for any reason. I also do not frame my work.  I loose so much of the batik when stretching it around the stretchers, it seems  sad to cover up more by framing it as well.  I created my first large wave batik in ‘92 to enter into a local art show (Frank Stick Show).  It won honorable mention. I didn't produce any more surf art until 2004, and even then I stuck to batiking waves because I feared that a surfer might be hard to draw with hot wax. I also knew what other surf artists were doing and mine looked nothing like their work. In 2005, I entered a batik of a guy surfing called "Lay Forward" and won the local beach book(phone book) competition in which the winner's artwork graces the copies of 55,000 phone books. This made me feel like I was taking a step in the right direction. 

What inspires you as a person and artist?
CQ: My family, in too many ways to list. I don't know what I would do without them.  I married Jim Quinn, a surfer  from Avalon, New Jersey.  I have a son, Chris, from a previous relationship.  He's a body boarder like me and his father. Jim and I have a daughter, Savannah, who is  learning how to surf. 
As for my other  inspirations, that changes daily...  I might be inspired by lyrics of one of my favorite bands(because I always have music blasting in my studio), something from a surf flick, flowers blooming in my yard, or a great day spent out in the ocean with my family.

What do you love about the East Coast, especially the coastline? 
CQ:I simply can't imagine living anywhere else.  I love the fact I can find a spot to paddle out where my family and I might be the only ones out.  Even when there's a crowd at some of the better breaks, it's still not really crowded –  not like the breaks everybody visits around the rest of the country.  We used to live
literally right down the street from Avalon Pier (a local spot), so you can just hop on a bike or walk if you want to check the surf, etc. Now I'm a mile south of the pier and in that mile stretch there are at least four or five nice sandbars to surf at.  The travel time is between five and 15 minutes max.  If you want to get "out of town" and go surf, you have Pea Island, S Curves( Turns) and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse all within an hour drive. I also love the local wildlife, watching the seasons change (yeah even the cold gray
winters where the wind howls at 25 mph for months) and the clean beaches.

Below are some samples of Charlotte Quinn’s amazing batik on silk pieces. For more info on her work email her at

 Below is one of Quinn's watercolors:

Charlotte Quinn and her beautiful beach family.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dirty Industry

"There's nothing more punk rock than being sustainable." This is my favorite line from the "Manufacturing Stoke" movie trailer. The film, which premiers in San Diego May 21 at Birds Surf Shed, takes a look at the surf industry's dirty habits and what some industry renegades are doing to help clean it up.  The closure of Clark Foam in 2005 turned the surf world upside down, not only financially but also from an environmental perspective. As this film depicts, the new generation of eco-conscious surfers (along with some old schoolers) are putting demands on manufacturers  to produce more earth friendly products. Check out the Manufacturing Stoke web site:

You can also read an interview with the film's creator  La Jolla native and surfer Pierce Michael Kavanagh in Transworld Surf:

Here's the trailer:

MANUFACTURING STOKE from misfit pictures on Vimeo.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hipster Mom

The smoke alarm sounds off in the house while I'm cooking on a constant basis. I blame it on an over sensitive alarm. But it is apparent that I  did not inherit my mother's grand cooking skills. But I have gained a lot of other  insight and knowledge from my mom -- grace, faith, strength, humility and consciousness.  She is one of the most beautiful and sweet women I know (although I had different feelings as a teenager). As we grow older and wiser and have children of our own we realize what our mothers had to endure and sacrifice to raise their children. My mother, who grew up in rural Mississippi with nine brothers and sisters, has most certainly struggled during her 70 years. We all do to some extent. I know the beach has always been a place of solitude for my mom, as it is for me. Late writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh (wife of  the late aviator Charles Lindbergh) sums up this solace in her beautiful book  Gift From The Sea.
Here is one of my favorite passages from the book :

The sea does not reward those who are  too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, Patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach -- waiting for a gift from the sea.

Twenty years after Gift From the Sea was published, Lindbergh wrote, "When  I wrote Gift From the Sea, I was still in the stage of life I called the 'oyster bed,' a symbol of a spreading family and growing children. The oyster bed, as the tide of life ebbed and the children went away to school, college, marriage, or careers, I was left high and dry. A most uncomfortable stage followed, not sufficiently anticipated and barely hinted at in my book. In bleak honesty it can only be called 'the abandoned shell.' Plenty of solitude, and  sudden panic at how to fill it, characterized this period. ...To quote my own words, 'woman must come of age by herself - she must find her true center alone.' The lesson seems to need re-learning about every 20 yeas in a woman's life.  ...As I look at my daughters, daughters-in-law, my nieces and my young friends, I am astounded at what they accomplish. They are better mothers than I was and they are the admitted equals of  their husbands in intelligence and initiative. They have no domestic help in their homes and yet with vigilant planning, some skillful acrobatics, and far more help from their husbands than any previous generation, they manage to lead enriching lives, including special interests of their own. ... Are they happy -- or shall I say, happier than my generation? This is a question I cannot answer. In a  sense I think it is irrelevant. Without hesitation I can affirm that they are more honest, more courageous in facing themselves and their lives more confident of what they want to do, and more efficient in carrying through their aim. But, above all, they are more aware."

This post is dedicated to my mom and all the other amazing mothers out there who have helped pave a positive path and have enriched the lives of many.
Below is a photo of me and my mom circa 1970s and a photo of my son and I (special thanks to my friend Kathy Klossner for taking the photo of me and my son). I am thankful that my parents are in close driving distance and that I can share my son with them. Thank you mom for all your love, support and strength over the years. Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Life Aquatic

I'm always up for an adventure, especially if it's aquatic. Daniel recently bought these used Eaton paddle boards for us to use when the surf is flat. I've only paddled twice and I'm already addicted!  After dodging all the boats and jet skiers in Mission Bay (not to mention the dirty water) I was ready for the open ocean. Today we cruised outside the reefs along Cardiff and had a blast. It was a reminder of how vast and beautiful the sea really is. I am stoked to enjoy it in different ways.
On a side note, late great surf legend Tom Blake is credited as the pioneer in paddle board construction in the early 1930s. Blake built a replica of an olo surfboard ridden by ancient Hawaiian  kings.. He lightened his redwood replica (olo were traditionally made from wiliwli  wood) by drilling it full of holes and then covering them, creating the first ever hollow board as well as introducing the first modern paddle board. Blake promoted paddle boards are lifeguard rescue tools, but they also proved to be a wave tool of choice among serious watermen.  Paddle boards are NOT to be confused with SUPs! (Stand Up Paddle boards).