Stripes versus circles. Mint and grey versus teal and black. Once I’ve got the dimensions (9’2, 18,23,15 for the curious) of a new board hammered out, my mind immediately goes into overdrive working on the graphics. One bonus of working with a local shaper (Have I ever mentioned how much I love Rozo?!) is the opportunity to put a personal touch on the board by painting it myself.
I see a lot of great art on boards that’s been applied over the glass with paint markers, but Rozo allows surfers the privilege of painting directly on the foam. I prefer this method as the work is protected underneath the glass and there is no way I would have the patience to paint a board that’s glassed and ready to surf!
I had been playing with the idea of a butterfly over the past couple of boards I’ve gotten, but was too worried about getting the scale right and happy enough with some other designs I came up with. This time, after sketching out five or six other ideas with no satisfaction, I knew it was time to go for the butterfly. David’s childhood butterfly collection came in handy for viewing a few different species up close.
Even after deciding on a design and having it fully sketched out on paper, I try to give myself a few days to commit (it’s permanent afterall.)
If I’m doing something fairly abstract I’ll usually freehand the design onto the board or, if I’m doing something like stripes, I’ll use painters tape to keep things exact. With this latest idea, I was still concerned about getting the scale right, so I went as far as to draw and cut out a stencil on posterboard.
Rozo’s got dozens and dozens of bottles of cheap, acrylic craft paint at his shop, but I’m picky about colors so I pick up my own from Michaels, along with a few brushes and a paint marker.
The simplest of designs can sometimes take a couple of hours and this one took me a little over three with David helping where he could. Rushing is where I’ll end up making a mistake, so I try to schedule the painting sessions for times when the shaping bay isn’t being used.
Foam is different than canvas, paper, wood and so on. It will grab the paint and soak it in, making it difficult to brush on with regular strokes. Saturating the brush with the paint makes it go on a little smoother.
I use the larger brushes to get the bulk of the color on and go behind with the tip of the foam brushes to trim out the edges.
I finish a lot of my work by tracing the entire outline with a black paint marker. It’s a style and technique that I’ve sort of used to personalize my designs, but it also tightens up any slightly messy edges and, in my opinion, makes the piece “pop.”
One of the biggest challenges is staying aware. Resting an arm or a wrist down in wet paint or accidentally brushing myself along the rails is easy if I’m not paying attention and usually leads to either smearing or getting paint somewhere it wasn’t intended.
I’ve made enough mistakes doing my boards to know not to panic if something goes wrong. If a slip of the hand results in a small mistake, let the area dry and paint over it. If paint gets on a part of the board it wasn’t intended, it can usually be covered up with bright white. Mistakes that seemingly can’t be fixed have to be shrugged off. The best part about painting a board is adding character to it. What’s the worst that could happen? I always tell myself if something turns out really awful, I can always paint the whole thing black. Kidding!! ::knocks on wood::
Ellie Jean, ready to fly over to the glassing room. What, you guys don’t name your surfboards?