I carved this banner around when 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 I began to focus on portraiture, this quarterboard still looked tremendous but lost the booth space competition to portraits. It was regularly trotted off to WoodenBoat School for students to examine.
With the popularity of 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 the board. He’d more than gone out of his way to help many of the students, and the students appreciated it. He became a regular visitor to our class. One afternoon while class was in progress, he was in the shop admiring the student’s work and casting 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.