Painting Story

Drew Brophy and painted Riviera Paddleboards for KEEN photo by Larry Beard April 2013

“All of my paintings depict real life experiences that I have.  When I paint from my own memory, that’s when the art shows vibrant energy and life, because it’s real.”

I never travel without standup paddleboards, even when I fly overseas.  

They allow me access to get up close and personal to wildlife and water caves and nature. 

Standup Paddleboards have made my life, and my family’s experiences, so much richer.

Last year, my family and I took four Riviera Paddlesurf boards with us on a five month exploration across America.

We paddled lakes and rivers and hiked and camped in the vast back country of America.

Two of those paddleboards became one of the most fun painting projects I got to work on this year.

When David, at Keen Footwear, asked for something special for the entrance to their building in Portland Oregon, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Keen is all about living the Hybrid Life and the great outdoors, and most everything in their building is made from recycled materials.

So I thought that it would be perfect to “upcycle” and paint on two of the paddleboards that we had so many adventures on.

Keen has been a long time supporter of my adventures, and I’m stoked to have been one of their very first ambassadors.  Keen water shoes, hiking boots and gorge boots go everywhere with us in our van, because, well, you never know when you’ll need them.

Lake Superior!

Lake Superior!

These paintings are on 12′ paddleboards, the biggest boards I can remember painting.  I used Uni Posca Paint Pens and sealed it with Krylon Spray.  It took me a few weeks from start to finish.

I loved painting my travel memories on these boards; it didn’t feel like work to me at all.

All of my paintings depict real life experiences that I have.  When I paint from my own memory, that’s when the art shows vibrant energy and life, because it’s real.

This project for Keen was no exception.

Each of these two paintings tells a story of adventures that we lived, and I think that’s what made painting them so enjoyable.

It was as though I was reliving those moments of adventure all over again.

PADDLEBOARD PAINTING #1:  THE GREAT NORTHWEST

This painting shows some of the wildlife my family and I saw on our five month trip across America last year.

The Trout:  In Redfish Lake, Idaho, I was catching trout off of the paddleboard.  It was funny; there were a few guys out there in a nice fishing boat, with all new equipment, and here I paddled out with my son’s fishing rod and a red bucket, and I was catching all the fish!

The Bear:  While in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, we saw a bear walking on the ridge not far from where we were parked.  The kids were excited to see a bear in the wild, and I was glad it was far enough away!

The River:  I took my inflatable Riviera Paddleboard down the Salmon River in Idaho for 11 miles.  Along the way, being the only human in the water, I saw elk and deer and eagles.  It was amazing.

Keen Paddleboards in their office

Exploring Lake Jocassee, Appalachian Mtns South Carolina

Exploring Lake Jocassee, Appalachian Mtns South Carolina

PADDLEBOARD PAINTING #2:  NELSCOTT REEF

This winter I finally got to surf giant waves at Nelscott Reef in Oregon.  This painting shows the giant kelp you see out there, the big fish and of course a small surfer in a huge wave!

I wrote a post all about the Nelscott Reef Adventure, you can read it here:  Mission to Surf Nelscott Reef – Big Waves in Oregon.

You can visit these paddleboard paintings in person – just go visit the Keen Garage in Portland Oregon.  (Click the link to see a short video of their really cool store.)

It’s a cool building and worth your visit.

You might want to pick up a few killer pairs of Keen’s new, lightweight CNX shoes while you’re there.

GET OUT THERE AND HAVE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!

Everyone should plan an adventure.  Do it  this summer.  Don’t wait until you’re too old to enjoy the rivers and lakes and oceans and mountains and whatever else makes you happy.

I hope these paintings and sharing my experiences will inspire some people to go enjoy life, now.  Because now is really all we have.

Life is Good,

Drew

SUNRISE in South Africa As an Artist, people often ask me where I get my inspiration from.

Most all of my painting inspiration comes from nature and life.

Being a surfer and a traveler takes me to some of the most amazing places on earth. These experiences in my life are real and authentic, they become part of my story.

Art is so much more than painting pretty pictures, it is a different way of thinking and looking at the world.

It is raw creativity and wonder. Art is the ability to articulate an idea, feeling, or story, to others.

Here is a story about the SUNRISE painting I did after a surf trip to the other side of the world:

During a trip to South Africa, on the beautiful beach of Jeffery’s Bay, where the ocean is full of life and the waves seem to peel forever, I was inspired to paint the sunrise.

One morning before dawn, after the coldest night of the year, I awoke to be the first to ride one of these magical waves. Standing in the dark, shivering in my wet-suit, I used my surfboard to block the icy winds. The crashing waves kept me company but I could not see them in the darkness.  Above me, millions of stars illustrated the vastness of the universe.

As my mind began to wander, I felt cold and alone, as if I was nowhere in time or space,  just another soul or spec of light in the night sky so far from each other.

Finally a tiny faint glow in the distance caught my eye, it steadily grew larger with every second and in a sudden burst, a tremendous wave of light raced across the sky.  In a fraction of second it erased the darkness and the millions of stars. I instantly felt the warmth of the light as the wave illuminated me. I embraced it and basked in it, it felt like God’s warm hands on my face.

I was no longer alone, a new day had been born, the endless waves and our beautiful world came into view.  This is our true gift, every single day.

The earth is our mother.
The sun is our father.
The ocean is where I was born and feel most at home, it calls to me.
I am a Son of the Sea.

Life is Good,

Drew

PS:  Now Sunrise is available on stickers, so you can take it with you anywhere you go – check it out in my Store.

I CAN SEE Painting by Drew BrophyI CAN SEE Original Painting, mixed media on canvas board, sized 12″ x 12″.

This painting was inspired when hiking through the Grand Canyon on a SUP whitewater expedition.

Most people aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.  They see what they are told to see, or what they expect.  They follow the herd.

Somewhere along the way, humans have shut out the details, only absorbing the obvious, or what’s being sold to them through the media.

Eighty percent of the important stuff is missed by most.

This fact was evident when hiking deep into the Grand Canyon.  I was on a 16 day expedition with a private group.  Occasionally, the commercial tours would cross paths with us, usually in groups of 30 or more.  Often, they trudged right past the most spectacular sights the Canyon has to offer; perfect heart-shaped stones, eagles flying high above, ancient messages left on rock.

On one very hot day (as a commercial tour group filed right past me, missing what had stopped me in my tracks),  I looked up at an enormous canyon wall, to see handprint impressions on the stone.

It was a message left in another time, from inhabitants of the Canyon.  I don’t know how long ago those handprints were made; hundreds of years ago?  Thousands?

The ancient greeting stayed with me long after returning home to Southern California.

So I decided to create my own handprint art.

I added the all-seeing-eye.  It represents that “I Can See”, because I feel that artists are given the gift of seeing more than most others.  Seeing things in nature, in people.

This painting was given to my sister-in-law, Caroline, for Christmas.  An artist herself, she fell in love with it.

For a fresh insight on the Handprints in the Canyon, check out this post by Andrew Guiliford, who felt that the handprints in the canyon guided him to safety one night.

Handprints in the Grand CanyonLife is Good – Drew

Last year I painted PANHE to be used for the cover of The San Clemente Times Earth Day edition.

To prepare for the painting, I spent the day at last year’s Panhe Earth Day celebration and learned as much as I could about the history of the area.

PANHE is a beautiful place in San Clemente that was inhabited by the ancient Acjachmen Indians and is estimated to be about 9,500 years old.   Me, Maria and Dylan go hiking back there sometimes. There’s an ancient Indian burial ground up on the hill that’s protected by law.

One of the reasons I live in San Clemente is the beautiful natural setting of this San Onofre and Trestles surfing area.

It is the LAST undeveloped, naturally intact coastal area in Southern California.  It’s filled with wildlife that you can see while walking down the trails to go surfing.

I’ve seen deer, bobcats, coyotes and giant rattlesnakes on the trails.

Then there’s the sea life:  whales, dolphins, sharks, halibut and calico bass.  I have yet to see the elusive mountain lion, but I know they’re out there.

I find it extraordinary that as little as a few hundred years ago, this valley and San Mateo Creek was filled with thousands of Indians living off the land, calling this place home.

This beauty is under constant threat of development from outsiders, who do not know or care about its wonders.  If we can get enough people to care about the area, we can keep it intact.

The painting is meant to show how special this place is and that it should be preserved for all time.  Now, this year the artwork is being used for the PANHE Earth Day Celebration posters and advertising.

THIS SUNDAY, ON EARTH DAY, the San Onofre Foundation will be holding the PANHE Earth Day Celebration at San Mateo Campground.

I’ll be there at noon, signing posters and enjoying the native dancers and story tellers.  If you are local, come on by!

Life is Good,   Drew

PS:  The original painting was sold to a local realtor, who gave it to one of her clients as a gift.

PERCESSION 2012 painted by Drew Brophy, Uni Posca Paint Pens on 7’4″single fin retro 1970’s Surfboard shaped by Ron House.  POST UPDATE:  THIS BOARD is SOLD!  A portion of proceeds went to SurfAid’s Board Art Benefit.

(But, you can order your own Custom Surfboard Painting, click HERE for pricing and order form.)

There are 3 things that make this surfboard painting special:

1 – I’ve painted thousands of surfboards.  But this is the first where I’ve painted both sides and wrapped the painting around the rails;

2 – The proceeds are going to SurfAid’s Board Art Benefit and will provide food and water to the people of the beautiful Mentawai Islands, a surfing paradise;

3 – The theme speaks to the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012 and what it could mean.

THE INSPIRATION:  I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of ancient civilizations.  Most people don’t know this about me, but I’m an amateur historian.  I can tell you about the history of just about any civilization with accuracy.

But I’ve never really painted these subjects until now.

The Percession painting was sparked during a recent trip to Puerto Escondido Mexico where I flew over the Ancient Aztec Pyramids at Teotihuacan in Mexico City.

A man that I met on my flight filled my head with crazy legends of the pyramids.  His stories inspired me to want to go there and stand on the top of the pyramid of the sun.

While surfing killer waves in Puerto a local there told me more stories of ruins in the jungle just outside of town.

He spoke of how the Zapotec Indians ruled the Pacific coast and built massive cities in the area around Puerto and Oaxaca.

When they put the road into Puerto Escondido they discovered a massive sculpture of the head of Quetzalcoatl, the god of the underworld.

The sculpture was so large they could not even move it. The road would have to go around it.

The Indians there believe an awakening is coming in 2012.  One man told me about strange lights he had witnessed in a valley, balls of light of different sizes and colors emanating from the horizon at super fast speeds for over a half hour, all of this sent my head spinning as I charged giant tubes.

Who were these people and where did they go?  With it being 2012 and all I could not help but let these ideas spill out onto my painting.

THE PAINTING:  The Pecession 2012 painting depicts the center of a crumbling Mayan Calendar being overtaken by the roots of the Tree of Life.  A golden snake spirals from the sky, wrapping around the surfboard. This marks the end of days and the return of Quetzalcoatl.

The pyramid on the bottom of the board represents a re-awakening of ancient knowledge.

The waves on the top and bottom of the board represent stories of the great flood and Mother Nature’s ability to reclaim the planet.

The balls of energy emanating from the calendar are spheres of light, essentially energy, our life force.

In the final days you will either be doomed to start over, or be transformed with this awakened knowledge. It begs for an answer to a question:

How have you lived your life?

Drew

*For insight on my history of painting surfboards, please Read “What makes a surfboard special – why you should buy this board” on the Board Art Benefit Blog.

This surfboard was painted for the SurfAid’s Board Art Benefit in Solana Beach, CA.  Other artists and shapers include legend Gerry Lopez and artists Phil Roberts, Spencer Reynolds, Matt Beard, Rick Rietveld, Eric Abel, and so many more great surf artists.

UPDATE ON 3-26-2012:  This surfboard painting was purchased March 2012 by collector Greg P. of Leucadia, California.