Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bellyboard Painting

And now, as they say in Monty Python, for something completely different:

I surf waves in the shallows on a bellyboard, a tradition that's been around for around 100 years in the UK. I used to use a foam boogieboard but just over a year ago, something changed....... I bought a wooden bellyboard.

Ever since I got my first Bellyboard (pictured below) 15 months ago, I've been hooked. I love the ride, being IN the wave rather than ON it. I love the fact that I'm riding wood rather than a synthetic material, not sure what those foam boogie boards are made of. Since I started bellying, I have only used my boogie board once. My Other Half, who normally surfs a longboard and looked down his nose at my foam boogieboard, tried my bellyboard once and was hooked! As was our son, who came down for a holiday, tried the belly and wants one! They are such FUN!

Now, being the arty type, I've quite fancied getting a blank, unvarnished bellyboard and giving it a personalised paint job. Enter Gavin Randall of the Traditional Surfing Co, a surfing pal who has started making by hand a range of very nice ply bellyboards that are made using FSC certified marine grade ply and finished with fishy-friendly linseed oil rather than varnish. (I love the smell of linseed oil; I used to oil paint, many years ago and the aroma takes me right back to the studio.)

Anyway, he had an unfinished board ready that I could buy and I grabbed the chance. It's been propped up in our lounge for almost three weeks, teasing me.

What to do with this blank canvas? What subject matter can I paint? (more on that later) What paint do I use? Not oils, too long a drying time. I have some  acrylic paints that might do. (I may try and source some more eco-friendly paints later) I've never even painted on ply before and I wanted to treat it with linseed after painting too, so Gavin kindly dug out some off-cuts that I could sand down and tinker with. I tried different paints to check bleed into the wood and when that dried I brushed it with linseed oil and polished it to see how it looked. And that's what I've been doing today.

I tried a line with thick permanent marker pen, which wasn't bad and didn't bleed much at all, but I have doubts as to it's light-fast qualities, so I opted for the acrylics, which went onto the un-primed board very nicely. They dried fast and when I wiped linseed over it only had a very small effect on the colours.

I did a fair number of sketches over the past few weeks while different ideas fermented in my head. I wanted to come up with something that conveyed the fun for all ages and the tradition of bellyboarding. I found myself thinking of the cheeky Donald McGill seaside postcards that were so popular in the 30's and 40's. I think I've come up with the answer, which I'll show in my next post.

The 'shortlist reject' ideas I'd still like to do, especially the hunky merman and the comedy apron format (take a bow, Anthony!) which you'll have to wait to see on a later post!


Magpie Magic said...

Cool! Can't wait to see the finished board. :-) xoxo

Sarah S. said...

HI Sue, I'll check back soon to see the finished result - can't wait.

natural attrill said...

Oh how exciting Sue! looking forward to your next post.

Anonymous said...

Looking pretty awesome, Sue, can't wait to see the finished board. Loving the idea of a McGill style design, you cheeky thing!


sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Still have my original board - a bit battered and scratched. Not bad when you consider it's over 45 years old!!! An interesting and exciting project Sue. Lesley x

Caroline B said...

What a fun project! Just a thought - check that acrylics don't peel off after being under water for a long time. I don't know how they would be on wood - they might soak in to the grain and not do it, but on other surfaces, prolonged water can make them float off like transfers!

Sue said...

It's a fun project, certainly and I've not worked on this scale for a good while!
Good point about the acrylics floating off, Caroline, I'll check it out, but I think if I don't lay the paint too thickly I'll be ok.