Research for a carved ship portrait involves digging into the library and pulling out what looks applicable. So for a picture of a fishing schooner, I’ll have a selection of books on similar types of vessels. The photo shows what’s currently on the desk. It changes depending on what I am interested in or preparing to do. I hate to confess, but I dig out what I need and rarely consume the entire book. I recognize that the sea of data is immense, and the relevance of that sea to specific projects is limited. Sometimes, you need to dig through exciting things that won’t appear in the finished product.

Many artists and craftspeople don’t need access to such detail, and I admit I can overdo things. However, while I prepare to do a project, I am also indulging myself in a world of pleasure. I take enormous pleasure in items nautical.
Since there are so many vessels, traditions, rigs, and equipment, even a well-provided library may be inadequate for a proposed portrait. So then I am off to the used booksellers online.

Much of what I learn cannot be included in a portrait; perhaps you would not see it from the portrait’s view. But I need to know the rationale for the booms being without sails on that schooner. The small portrait shown is of a halibut “schooner”. The sails were rarely used, and the booms served as cargo and fish booms. But going into that project I did not know that until research confirmed it.

So it’s a voyage of discovery.
On a boat or ship, there is seldom a random item. Instead, it all serves a purpose. Ships are purposeful. There is little unaccounted for, and its portrait should reflect that.

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