I carved this banner around the time that the Patrick O’Brien books like Master and Commander were popular. With so many boats being named Surprise I thought it might be an attention-getting device at boat shows, and it was. Around the time that I was beginning to focus on portraiture, this quarterboard still looked great but lost the booth space competition to portraits. But, it was regularly trotted off to WoodenBoat School for students to examine.
With the popularity of the name Surprise, I wasn’t too amazed at the number of people who’d come up and tell me that that was their boat’s name. One year at the school, we had a waterfront manager who particularly admired that board. He’d more than gone out of his way to help a number of my students, and did much more than what his job description required for students. One afternoon while class was in progress he was in the shop admiring the students work and casting covetous glances at the Surprise quarterboard. Of course, his boat’s name was Surprise, and the poor thing was barren of any display of name. So, I reached over, grabbed the board, handed it to him, and said: “it’s yours.” I think he mounted the board almost immediately that afternoon.

We are in business to earn. But, as an artist is within your scope to please with a gift. You get as much, if not more, than the receiver out of that transaction.