-------------- Varied adventures in the art of doug keil aka dkeil --------------

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"This Storm Too Shall Pass"- painting by dkeil (Douglas Keil)

"This Storm Too Shall Pass" by dkeil 27x34 acrylic on canvas over masonite - plein air 2011
I did this plein air painting at a yacht club on the Hudson River in upstate NY.
I loved the lines on the mast of this older sailboat.

A sailor spends most of their time thinking about wind direction, windspeed, heading, and current. I've always loved sailing and wish my circumstances in life provided more opportunity to shout "Gybe Ho!" Something about capturing the power of the wind in full sails and containing it, redirecting it, transferring it to an entire vessel- is so exciting; when the boat leans precariously on its side, sails tightened; full speed ahead! A sailor spends a awful lot of time looking up at the top of his mast, checking the wind direction, so that was, in part, the motivation for the composition. Symbolism in the rest of the composition exists but I don't feel like going into all that right now. I thought about how to construct this piece for quite a while, circumstances presented themselves favorably at the Shattemuc Yacht Club this summer to make it happen. This is a plein air painting; I painted it out on a dock in the July sun. It was great! I love watching how the marina changes as the tide comes in and goes out. The biggest challenge I faced with this piece was the constant movement of the dock underneath me as I painted. The line work on the rigging was an exercise in patience, as I waited for calm moments in order to continue.

Someday I'm going to sail around the world. A few people actually believe me on this one- they also happen to be part of my crew. I'm not in a rush, really. It's going to have to wait until the storm passes. There's too much piracy and danger at this time; but when the time is right, I'm going! It's going to be a fantastic adventure, one I've been thinking of since I was a boy. I used to love reading adventure stories; and one of the best was an article published in the October 1969 edition of National Geographic. It was the story of 16 year old Robin Lee Grahm, and it was his adventure to sail around the globe in his small boat named "The Dove." By "small"... I mean small. The Dove was a 24 ft. fiberglass sloop.  The kid was pretty much nuts. It was one of my favorite stories as a teenager- but I only had half of the story! The National Geographic article was a "too-be-continued" article. I always wondered if he made it.

Well, last year on my cross-country art trip, I happened to find myself  in some little country town around the Texas/Oklahomah/Kansas area. I can't remember the town's name, but it was a good stop. I visited a number of little downtown antique stores with a mission- find cool antique tools. I was looking for some interesting old handtools for a series of paintings I'm working on. I found a couple wrenches; but I also struck "gold!" I noticed a huge stack of National Geographics organized by year. I thought, "Hey, maybe they have the rest of that story about the kid who sailed around the world..."

So I looked in the 1968,1969 section- and there it was!
April 1969, the continued story- featured right on the cover! The nice old lady sold me the magazine for a dollar or two. Finally, fifteen years later, the adventure completed! It was great. Robin made it to the South Pacific, met a pretty girl, they fell in love, she followed him from port to port (his challenge was to sail solo), they got MARRIED in South Africa, etc.etc. I couldn't believe it- a great real-life adventure with a happy ending! He sailed all the way around the world by himself and lived to tell the tale.

Robin wrote a book about his adventure called "The Dove" and Hollywood produced a movie by the same title in the 70's.  I bought the book on Amazon and enjoyed it; it was light adventure reading- a feel-good book. There are a few other books that I've enjoyed on the topic- the famous "Kon-Tiki" by Thor Heyerdahl (absolutely THE BEST- google it!!) and "Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea" by Steven Callahan. "Kon-Tiki" is probably my all-time favorite adventure. A team of Norwegians set out to prove that a raft constructed of balsa tree logs can sail across the great Pacific Ocean. Their expedition took place in the late 1940's. A classic Academy Award-winning black and white documentary came of the adventure as well as the book. Both are excellent.

Sailing around the world is obviously a huge undertaking, one that I'm certainly unprepared for at this point. But as the saying goes- "you have to have goals to reach them."  I know that in due time, it's a goal I will reach. Solo isn't the plan either; I'll have a great crew of friends to share the adventures with!

Do you like the painting? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Then you would go from cool reader-person to super-cool commenter-person!

Visit me and "like" my facebook page to stay up to date with new paintings!


  1. This painting almost blows me away...literally!Coming from Florida, the lightning capital of the U.S., I can so totally relate to storms and their effects. The clouds here are moving and darkening...with ominous thunder most likely in the background. The storm is unnerving, but there is enough blue in the sky to promise that it will "pass" and then there will be the serene peacefulness of smooth sailing over the deep ocean waters. Congrats on the way you project so much feeling into your artwork Doug! Thanks for sharing this amazing painting, the insights and your "very cool" future plans!

  2. (Yeeah! Super Cool Commenter Person! )
    Hi! I haven't checked out your website in a while, and I'm glad I did. I heard about this painting, but I never got to see it as you sold it right away. It's awesome! I love it. It's much different than i imagined, very striking and ...moving. It feels like it's paused just between swells, sailor perspective. It's very close to the view I remember from when I got to sail a few times when I was younger and I was allowed to be at the tiller. I also love the feeling of catching a little piece of the power of the wind and holding it in the sail, resisting juuuust enough and dipping the rails lower and lower towards the water. I'm really looking forward to the days when I'll get to sail a LOT. I didn't know about the national geographic, but i was going to call you up and tell you how it went with Robin when i was halfway through your post. Then i read a bit more. I found "the Dove" in the library when I was in middle school or so. I enjoyed it very much- i read it a few times. That may be when I decided to build a sailboat someday. I guess you didn't copy me; we just had some of the same influences! Now I want to find the magazines, and i didn't know they made a movie! Good job getting prints of some of your paintings avaiable, Doug. (wow, I just saw the heavy cloud to the bottom left. not the weather I look for to be on the water!) I love the color you got on the metal of the mast. It looks beautifully strong.