Monday, July 7, 2014

The Charles W. Morgan Homecoming: New Bedford

This 4th of July weekend I was able to go to New Bedford to see the Charles W. Morgan on her 38th voyage. The Morgan was built in New Bedford in 1841, and the city gratefully opened its gates to welcome her home over 170 years later.

I will be joining the captain and crew of this 19th-century whaleship as a 38th Voyager during the ship's historic voyage THIS WEEKEND! While aboard, I will be drawing and observing the workings of the ship (and maybe a whale!!!) as she sails into the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In addition to the work created on-board, I will be creating an animation about the Morgan, whale conservation, and our evolving compassion towards whales, other animals, and each other. You can view my previous animation about the cultural history of whaling below, which was created as a part of a collaboration between Dalvero Academy and Mystic Seaport.

It was my first time seeing her outfitted with all of the rigging and sails. It's amazing how different the experience of drawing her is, compared to several years ago when she was out of the water on dry dock.

Most of the ship we drew is now below water, and with her masts she extends up even higher above the water. She is a completely new shape, but still the same ship.

They closed the Morgan's pier in preparation for the night's fireworks (on July 5th, because New Bedford had been completely flooded on the holiday!) so we moved over to another pier.

We waited for the fireworks as the sun set behind the rigging of commercial fishing vessels and lit the sky behind the Morgan's masts in the distance.

As we waited, a family came over to wait and watch the fireworks on the risers near us. The two kids, Henry and Audrey, were very curious about my drawing and got closer to help art direct as we passed the time. Audrey helped pick the colors, while her older brother helped me figure out what to draw. I like the abstraction that came out of the collaboration in the drawing above! When his mother asked Henry why he thought we were drawing, he very astutely replied "So that you can remember what you see!" Right on, Henry! There is no better way to remember or appreciate something than to spend time drawing it and really thinking about it.

We then collaborated on a drawing of our surroundings. I added in a couple boats, sails, and shapes. Henry added in a sailboat, a flock of birds, the water, and his grandfather in a hat. Audrey then painted over the drawing of the grandfather with black (no offense intended, I'm sure), which Henry and I filled in with bright marks and colors as we watched the fireworks. Such a pleasure to do this drawing with the two of them! It's always nice to unwind and just play around with paint and pastels.

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