NAUTICAL WATERCOLORS, OILS & FINE ART REPRODUCTIONS

by

MARTHA A. QUIGLEY

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HOW IT ALL STARTED...

What began as a less than perfect spinnaker take-down

has led me to this unique art form!.


We were sailing on the beautiful waters surrounding Marblehead, MA.  It’s 1986, a idyllic summer day of clear skies and light winds. I’m at the helm: skipper, teacher and coach, with my non-sailing girlfriends as crew for the day.  “Chancy too”, Dad’s Etchells #66, is skimming along - we’re so relaxed.  As usual, we were using the “going home chute”. My agreement with Dad only allowed use of this old, beat-up spinnaker on our pleasure trips. He wasn’t one to spend a huge budget for new sails every year, so he saved the good spinnakers for racing. The “going home chute” was just that--for going to, or home from the race area. 


As we head home towards the harbor enjoying the ‘rush’, courtesy of our workhorse spinnaker (also referred to as “Irish Linen”), we start the take down. But the serene scene becomes frantic as my gal-pals (I’m steering) try to pull down and gather the sail into the boat. The spinnaker falls too fast. Weighted down by the water and dragging into the boat, it shreds (also known as shrimping!). Now I owe Dad and apology! I thought he wouldn’t be too upset, as this was a really old sail, but it did mean he’d have to retire another from his racing inventory. I dried out the torn fabric, threw it into a big plastic trash bag and put it in my basement, thinking “I might make curtains from this someday!”


10 years later, during the mid-nineties, I was pursuing my lifelong career as an artist. I have always painted marine related scenes- mostly one-design racing scenes- and decided to try working on bit a of the old spinnaker cloth from Chancy. It was beautiful- just like rice paper, but less fragile. Then, a couple of years ago I had an idea to start painting nautical code flags, but not just straight edged, traditional flags. I had long lamented that my own initial “Q” was the most boring of all the code flags being plain, solid yellow. So, in an effort to make it more interesting and fun, I used loose paint and a very loose style. This led to the creation of a whole new alphabet based on traditional code flags. I produced the first pieces in 2007 and introduced the whole series in 2009.


I use the recycled spinnaker fabric (currently still my father’s old spinnaker), and create words, boat names, or whatever. Then I tear the fabric into individual letters leaving threads, seams, edge tape, even a grommet, and “float” the letters on a white background.  A white shadowbox frame completes the effect. Boat names, last names, “Welcome” and other phrases take on a whole new look: the pieces are lively, whimsical and strikingly colorful!  It has become a wonderful way for me to celebrate the legacy of sailing days gone by with my father.


Let me create a custom message especially for you or as a gift for an ocean-loving friend.


Contact me at:

martha.quigley@comcast.net



©

“CHANCY too”, 1980’s

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