A couple years back, Cheri and I had the opportunity to take a short sailing trip aboard the tall ship Lady Washington. During this 8 hour trip from Richmond to Vancouver, we had an opportunity to glimpse into the past and see what life was like on board a trading vessel in the late 1700′s. There is just something about being on a large wooden ship like this that leaves one in awe. The creaking of the rigging, the pulley blocks banging, the sound of the sails flapping in the wind, all come together in a very harmonious symphony that enhances the feel of moving through the water by the force of wind alone. It was my first introduction to both sailing and tall ships, and I felt nothing but love! That trip has really shaped and inspired me as an artist and I’m so glad that I finally had the opportunity to capture her in paint.
According to Wikipedia the history of the original Lady Washington is very impressive:
The original Lady Washington, or more commonly, Washington, was a 90-ton sloop. Her early history is still in question. As part of the Columbia Expedition, she left Boston Harbor on October 1, 1787. She sailed around Cape Horn and participated in the Maritime Fur Trade with the coastal Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest and in tea and porcelain across the Pacific in China. She was the first American-flagged vessel to round Cape Horn. She was the first recorded vessel to make landfall on the Oregon coast near Tillamook, Oregon. John Meares claimed that she was the first non-native vessel to circumnavigate Vancouver Island.
Named in honor of Martha Washington, she was captained by Robert Gray, and later by John Kendrick, former captain of her larger sailing partner, the Columbia Rediviva and commander of the expedition. At the end of the first trading season Kendrick ordered Gray to sail Columbia to China while Kendrick took command of Washington. Under the command of Kendrick, she was refitted in Macau as a brigantine.
The Washington became the first American vessel to reach Japanin an unsuccessful attempt to move some unsold pelts. Washington remained in the Pacific trade and eventually foundered in the Philippines in 1797. She was lost at the mouth of the Mestizo River, near Vigan, NW Luzon in July 1797.
For this painting, I wanted to capture the Lady Washington as she may have been found along the Oregon coast on one of her trips. The configuration of her sails being blown back into her masts and rigging are what really drew me to this particular composition. The shadows and effects created by this are very interesting and it is not a scene often captured in Marine paintings. In my mind this painting depicts the early morning and she is just getting set to get underway. The lone man in the boat is staged to balance out the composition while creating a point of interest that the viewer is left to create a narrative around. The softness of the background cliffs and hills really set this painting up for the ship and all her rigging to stand out beautifully against. This painting was an absolute joy to paint!
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‘Shore Leave’ 28″x34″ acrylic on fine art board.