The Art of Surfing: Paintings & Prints
September 26, 2012

One of the cool things about taking an interest in surfing is that the activity itself comes with an entire culture built around it, ranging from a huge pro-am athletic component to niche equipment builders, clothing, language, spirituality and everything in between. For a nerd like me that leaves a ton of room to explore! As stated in an earlier post books got me to surfing but they may not be the best art the culture has to offer…

Hands down, one of the coolest elements of surf culture that I have encountered thus far is the art work. For the purposes of this post, I will narrow the “art” I have found to paintings or prints, specifically. Surf photography is a world unto itself, as is board designs, surf sculptures and so on I’m not dismissing those by any means I’m just taking this adventure very slow.

Drew Brophy

Disclaimer: I have no skills as an artist or as an art critic. I am not educated in the vernacular or the methodology and I have no plans to be. Accordingly, the pieces posted on here are here because I dig them, period. That said, the first prints that caught my attention (and made me smile) were the ones I encountered by Drew Brophy. Whatever his style may be called I think of it as surf graffiti art. It pops! His pieces are vibrant and frenetic, fun and inspiring. The one above, in particular, places a picture perfect swell, golden local and the entire cosmos in accord an idea that whether true or not is wonderful.

Phil Roberts

When I first saw some of Phil Roberts pieces, it wasn’t JUST the turtle that sold me. Though, it is worth noting, I am obsessed with turtles. Have been most of my life, no plans to rein it in either. Love turtles. The turtle DOES make this my favorite Roberts piece but what I dig about his art is the realism. It may be the polar opposite of Drew Brophy’s fantastical art but it still strikes awe in me. Like Brophy’s, the painting above combines a perfect swell, a golden local, and (I would argue) the cosmic alignment. Though, in the case of Roberts painting the cosmos is not represented in ‘the great out there’ night sky but rather it is in the foreground where the turtle conveys ‘the great out there.’ <—You don’t even know, turtles are ancient bad asses.

Speaking of realism….

Fernanda O’Connell

Fernanda O’Connell’s wave paintings are unbelievable. I can only imagine, what with my no art skills, that it is her use of light  and color that makes the waves in her work:  a.) look like they are in motion; and b.) look like waves. About that b, having just spent weeks and weeks obsessing over them and so staring at the water for extended periods of time, it turns out that waves are a myriad of colors…erm, all at once. EVERY wave. Not just in the aqua heaven that is the tropic but out there in the plain old Pacific, too. What’s more, the way the light moves through waves is etherial. Too, much? Stunning. Transcendant. Uniquely beautiful. O’Connell’s paintings reflect the qualities of waves which make them ‘magical,’ color and light in motion.

Drew Brophy

SEE!! Even Drew Brophy depicts sea creatures as representatives of ‘the great out there’ sometimes!

There ya have it, these are a few of my favorite surf prints.

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