Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

Sign up and read my novel for free.

All Blog Posts


Bogie

September 8, 2014
I’m not a golfer and might never have had the opportunity to set foot inside a venerable old golf club were it not for my in-laws, avid golfers who joined The Portland Golf Club shortly after moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1985.

    

One Saturday afternoon my father-in-law invited me to lunch at the Portland Golf Club. My father-in-law was a gregarious guy who’d made friends with Mr. Denley, the club’s general manager. While enjoying our lunch in the men’s grill, Denley approached with something in hand.

    

He said, “Mr. Petty, look at what I found upstairs stored away in a box.” He handed an old scorecard to my father-in-law. It was signed by Humphrey Bogart, who’d played the course in 1940. Mr. Denley added, “I think I’ll have it framed and hang it on a wall here in the men’s grill.”

    

“Great idea,” my father-in-law countered, “but you need a portrait of Bogart to go with it.”

    

Denley scratched his chin. “I wonder where I could find an artist to draw something.”

     

My father-in-law, never one to squander a business opportunity, especially for his struggling son-in-law, pointed at me and said, “We have someone right here who can do the job.”

    

I later met with Denley, and it was decided that a black and white picture would be best. At the time I was perfecting my airbrush technique and I showed him a few samples. He liked what he saw. We agreed on a price, he gave me the commission and I went back to my studio to work on the picture, as it turned out the only airbrush portrait I ever painted.

    

Even though Bogart played the course in 1940, I settled on the Casablanca Bogie from ’42 because that’s the image cemented into most peoples’ minds. Airbrush is a difficult medium to master and today it’s nearly been replaced by the computer. Paint is held in the cup at top and an air compressor pushes the paint in a fine spray. Creating details requires hand-held shields and other tools. I was particularly pleased with the bow tie. I found sticky drywall tape in my garage, twisted it and applied it to my picture. When I removed the tape it left a pattern perfect for a bowtie.

 

 

 

    

Knowing someone would ask me Bogart’s score, or if Bogie bogeyed (I’m thinking of you, Mr. Lynch at Penwasser Place) I returned to the Portland Golf Club to read the scorecard. Frankly, all I could make out was the signature. But I noticed something interesting while snapping a photograph of the framed picture. Beneath the glass was what appeared to be a yellowed original scorecard, but accompanying it was a photocopy of my portrait, and not a particularly good one.

 

    

 

Mr. Denley passed away years ago so I can only wonder what happened to the original. Perhaps an art thief is on the loose. If we were in Casablanca, Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) could order, “Round up the usual subjects.”

 

 

     

The Original Portrait

    



Comments

27 Comments
That's so good, i wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Denley kept the original himself and put in the copy, simply because he wanted it!
By: mimi on September 8, 2014
I had the same thought as mimi.
By: Cranky on September 8, 2014
It looks okay to me, but I've never been a fan of airbrush when used to paint faces. I think that airbrush is better used on things like skies and to get a real nice blend going where it is needed. The classic example of the power of airbrush (for me) is in Michael Whelan's cover of 2010 by Clarke.
By: Michael Offutt on September 8, 2014
It appears Bogie only provided an autograph and not evidence of his skill at golf. I think Cranky and mimi are right as to the location of the original.
By: Uncle Skip on September 8, 2014
Love Bogey and have seen all of his films. This is a terrific portrait that captured the likeness and the personality of the part. That tie was really cool.
By: Tabor on September 8, 2014
I think your portrait is amazing! I once did three portraits for a trio of Elvis impersonators...(charcoal, nothing as difficult as airbrush!)...they portrayed Elvis at different stages of his career. That was years ago and I haven't seen those portraits since then. You're fortunate to have come across the photo copy, and I agree with the others about the location of your original piece. I'd love to see more of your art, I think it's fantastic.
By: Eva Prokop on September 8, 2014
Mimi is spot on- Mr Denley has the original! Your portrait is fabulous- black and white was a perfect choice for that enigmatic man!
By: Kathe W. on September 8, 2014
really nice!
By: TexWisGirl on September 8, 2014
Play it! Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on September 8, 2014
That's one impressive portrait! But the villain could have been someone who came along after Mr. Denley was gone and figured nobody would notice the difference!
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on September 8, 2014
The romantic in me wants to think that Lauren Bacall saw it and had it swapped out. The photo copy really lost a lot of the actual picture.
By: Akansas Patti on September 8, 2014
The tie IS impressive, and his eyes are striking. Great story. Mr. Penwasser will want to know about his rod, if he made a hole in one, how good his aim was, how long did it take to score...and other such silliness - if I know that Mr. Penwasser like I think I do. And I think I do.
By: Robyn Engel on September 8, 2014
Maybe Bogie never played; maybe he just autographed the card. In any case, if the original painting is gone, well, then ... paint it again. Stephen!
By: Tom Sightings on September 8, 2014
That is amazing! That bow tie....I would never in a million years have thought to do that trick with the tape. WOW!
By: Scott Park on September 8, 2014
After that one turned out so well, I am surprised that you didn't do any more airbrush portraits!
By: Val on September 8, 2014
This portrait certainly makes me stop and wonder what is going on in Bogie's head.
By: red on September 8, 2014
I certainly hope you got your fee from that crook!
By: Catalyst on September 8, 2014
You have your own Bogie mystery. By the way, your portrait is splendid. Let us know if you learn the fate of your original. I suspect someone has a great piece of art hanging in their home or office.
By: Tom Cochrun on September 8, 2014
You really are an amazing artist.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on September 9, 2014
Once again I'm left in awe at your artistic abilities.
By: Gary Sidley on September 9, 2014
great picture. a good way to annoy a golfer is to ask them which bat you should be using. I wonder how Bogey enjoyed golf and if he ever played it again...
By: don\'t feed the pixies on September 9, 2014
You are amazing. What a classy and beautifully done portrait. And what an inspiration to use drywall tape to create the texture of the tie. I agree that the original probably went home with the general manager (or someone else).
By: Mitchell is Moving on September 9, 2014
Wonderful portrait. And your idea for the texture of the bow tie is genius. I am so impressed!
By: Jenny Woolf on September 9, 2014
The shadows are incredible! I wouldn't have known it was your first airbrush piece of work. Bravo!
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 9, 2014
That is one terrific story, Stephen! And one to savor!!
By: Michael Manning on September 9, 2014
Great story and wow! Doesn´t black and white bring out different dimensions, love it!
By: John on September 10, 2014
You did a great job with the portrait. And I agree with what one of your commenters above said---it's so good that I'll bet Mr. Denley kept the original!
By: marcia @ Menopausal Mother on September 12, 2014

Leave a Comment

Name:
Email:
Comment:

Return to All Blog Posts Main Page


RSS 2.0   Atom