Playa Venao, March 2015

Just got back from our trip to Playa Venao Hotel and Resort in Panama and wow!  I wished for big surf and got some big time, more than I could handle at times for sure.  This was some of the most inspiring and terrifying surf for my art I have ever encountered but I survived to tell the story, thanks to some very good people like Nicole Columbus who came to my rescue while taking photos in the lineup, only to be carried outside well beyond view of most everyone in a ferocious rip current from hell!

Follow the foam to the outside where it comes to a stop. That's where I was when Nicole and two others came out to help me.  The four of us had to paddle a lot to get out of that rip while I held onto their leashes and kicked with my flippers.

Follow the foam to the outside where it comes to a stop. That's where I was when Nicole and two others came out to help me.  The four of us had to paddle a lot to get out of that rip while I held onto their leashes and kicked with my flippers.

A classic Venao Barrel shot with my Pentax.

A classic Venao Barrel shot with my Pentax.

Our journey began in Panama City where we met my good friend Alex Valdes who drove us the five hours to Playa Venao.  On the way, I visited my dear friend Ivan Marquez whose photography has inspired many of my paintings of surf art from Panama.

I left Ivan with a few pieces of my limited editions and a calendar of my paintings.  He has decorated his beautiful restaurant with his photography and prints of my paintings!  What an honor to be a part of such a great place.  

I left Ivan with a few pieces of my limited editions and a calendar of my paintings.  He has decorated his beautiful restaurant with his photography and prints of my paintings!  What an honor to be a part of such a great place.

 

Typical peeler by the pool at the infinity pool.  

Typical peeler by the pool at the infinity pool.

 

Painting Plein Aire by the pool.

Painting Plein Aire by the pool.

When we arrived the waves were about 3-4 feet and rising.  After surfing a few days of that size, I did a few Plein Aire pieces like this one above. Both sold on location along with some of the prints I took with me.  One of my goals was to paint on location to see how it would go and develop a plan to take other surf artists on a journey to Venao to do the same.  I was pretty pleased with the preparation and pretty much remembered all things I would need. Painting in the wind with pinstripe brushes is pretty hard, especially when the wind is blowing the tips all over the canvas!

One of the many gorgeous sunsets each day.

One of the many gorgeous sunsets each day.

The sunsets in march are just amazing.  Last time I was here in July, the sun was at a different angle so we did not get to see that much of a sunset each day but this year was amazing.  There will be a lot of great paintings coming out of this journey!

One of the many overhead sets that just came over and over.

One of the many overhead sets that just came over and over.

Almost no water at the bottom of this wave.  So shallow!

Almost no water at the bottom of this wave.  So shallow!

This guy Deric Munn who drives this van is just a super human!  He rides his bike up and down the mountain five miles a day to get his wind right so he can handle these huge waves.  At nearly 70 years of age, he surfs like a young boy!  

This guy Deric Munn who drives this van is just a super human!  He rides his bike up and down the mountain five miles a day to get his wind right so he can handle these huge waves.  At nearly 70 years of age, he surfs like a young boy!

 

I definitely have my batteries charged for making a series of paintings about this epic surf trip and am so ready for the show circuit this year.  Thank you to all who helped us out in Panama to experience everything!  A special thanks to Jesus Christ who saved me not once, but twice and gave me my life back so I could make a difference.  Know thy limits!