I'm writing (and rewriting) a full-color art book about my work! It will be mostly about my imaginary island, New Island, and how, beginning with escapist drawings at 11 years old, I found my way there. The title will possibly be: "Art, Waves, Beaches and Wandering: Lee Mothes’ Journey to Nevermore", or something like that.
Sunlight on the waves, water and clouds is something that has always fascinated me; I'm drawn to it like a moth to a light bulb! Here are two recent paintings inspired by my stay on the Oregon coast two months ago...
I'll be showing these 8" by 29" watercolors and more at the Coventry Glassworks Gallery in Appleton, Wisconsin, with a reception Friday evening, Feb. 1 2013.
Energetic surf, good weather and beautiful light gave me some great ideas for new paintings this winter. My beach visits began in Seaside, Oregon and continued south to Huntington Beach, California, where I spent about 5 weeks, from October 9th to November 18.
The top photo is of the beach at Camp Winema, OR, and the lower photo is from the ledge you're not supposed to go down to at Cape Kiwanda, OR.
I love big surf, especially storm-driven waves that crash and churn and then run up, and sometimes over, the beach. Drawing and painting these waves, trying to capture their energy, has been my ongoing challenge and passion.
Even in Wisconsin, I can enjoy California or Hawaiian surf; play in it, marvel at it, while painting it. Above is a 3 foot by 4 foot acrylic on canvas of a gnarly breaker along the central California Coast. I worked on this painted during the last two weeks, finishing it (I think) today. Here is its progress:
I recently painted a beach I visited in California a few years ago. I know it is north of LA and south of San Francisco, but I forgot where it was exactly so I just call it "Secret Cove". Anybody know where this is?
This is one idea I sketched to inspire kids to build their own clubhouse.
I tend to jump around in my work from painting beaches to drawing the figure to writing. I have promised myself to get this clubhouse/playhouse book out into the world before the end of the year, and I have found the world of non-fiction bookpublishing to be quite fascinating!
My next step, now that the book is more or less complete, is to find an agent and/or a publisher. I originally was thinking of self-publishing this book, but there is too much confusion about that these days to be worth it.
I recently finished writing Part 3 of what I now call The Clubhouse Book. This section explains how to get the right tools, find cheap or free materials and build a clubhouse. It is aimed at any 10-year-old-and-up kid or any adult who hasn't built anything before. Below are a few of the drawings from the book:
Suggestions for planning...
How to use tools...
How to build that first wall.
I am getting ready to send out query letters to publishers. If anyone out there knows of a publisher who might handle this kind of a How-To book, let me know!
Fort Bragg, California is an aging mill town with no mill - the old Union Lumber Company that built the town is long gone. There are some nice beaches just north of town, easily accessed by bicycle on an old logging road called the Haul Road, now a public path (no cars).
I was able to spend two weeks in early August riding a borrowed bike to these beaches, and painting the bluffs, dunes, waves and the pervasive fog that usually hung low over the coast. I really enjoyed it and these watercolors are some of the results.
Sand Dunes, Ten Mile Beach
Virgin Creek with Seagulls (and the Haul Road bridge)
This is one of the beaches I have painted that are part of New Island: the town of Wombey on the island's western coast.
Since about 1992 I've been imagining and drawing an island surrounded by hundreds of miles of beaches. It's become the island-nation I call New Island. My friend Scott and I just made a video about it. See it here on YouTube!
I built several clubhouses while growing up, and I'm working on a book titled Our Clubhouses, Stories About the Joy of Building. It
shares my clubhouse building experiences until I was well into my teens, and includes the stories of several
other backyard playhouse builders. There are also how-to plans and
sketches of great clubhouse ideas for kids and of backyard retreats for
I had built the clubhouse above in 1959, when I was 11. My friends Chris (in the picture), Kathy (whose yard this was in) and Chris's sister Chele and I formed a club and played in our clubhouse almost every day. It was painted turquoise. I spent a lot of time adding on rooms and fixing up the place (note the wallpaper in the doorway) and I believe it helped me grow and stay sane.
In 1989, I built the playhouse below for my three daughters, who have all outgrown it. Now the neighbor kids play in it.
Funny thing...just as I was writing this posting, I saw two girls heading for my daughters' playhouse with a bucket of paint! Sure enough, when I asked them what they were up to, they announced they were going to paint part of the inside that was still bare wood. I said OK.
And life goes on!
I'll post updates as the book progresses, and let you know when and where it will be available!
To dramatize how coastlines can be forever changed, I've assembled some aerial photos of Sunset Beach and Surfside, CA. The saltwater marshes behind Sunset beach were once home to thousands of ducks, pelicans, fish fry (baby fish), clams, shorebirds, mice, crawfish, hawks, foxes, wild pigs, snakes, and sometimes wandering kids. We just called it "the slough", and if I'd known about the snakes and pigs, I might not have gone out there as much!
Above is my home town, Sunset Beach, in July 1956. The beach was small, but the marshes were vast then. That area I drew in 1961, on the previous post, is just left of the center.
Here it is today!
Here's That part I drew in 1961, today. The old railway is a park (nice!) However, the beach is sterile, no more clams and only scavenger birds; and it's littered with enough plastic and other debris as to be visible from space! The old slough,once to the right, is all built out.
Welcome to Oceans and Dreams - The art of Lee Mothes The details and particulars in my paintings are often taken from my photos. A dramatic Midwestern sky might be juxtaposed over a wild and early California coastline, with an especially charming old farmhouse plunked down on the beach (complete with a glad- or geranium-filled flower garden), there may be toys strewn about -- usually there's some surf. There's a little something for everyone!