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….

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Brushes in Hand

April 30, 2014
A few weeks ago I experienced a weird sensation, something I hadn’t felt in years. I was leaving comments for a few of my favorite bloggers when suddenly I felt the urge to …grab a few paint brushes and move paint around. A decade ago I baffled friends and family when I set aside my paints and brushes. Now it’s hard to remember why I stopped painting. I guess I burned out after years of illustration assignments, years of working to please clients. In addition to painting, writing had always been an interest so I changed course and began painting with words. Now that I’ve completed five hundred posts and three unpublished novels, the time seems right to pick up a palette and start moving paint again.

    

My interest in painting had always centered on people. When I was a kid, my fifth grade class went on a field trip to the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. I still recall standing in front of a Rembrandt and thinking it was a miracle. Helen Delgado, my best friend’s mom, had taken painting classes and I’d sit and watch her paint, but her paintings didn’t look at all like the canvases I saw at the DeYoung. The paintings I saw that day in San Francisco looked like they could think and breathe. I knew then and there that this was what I wanted to spend my life doing.

    

Monday’s post on my old illustration studio got me thinking once more about bringing people to life on canvas. But who to paint? Mrs. Chatterbox works during the day when the light is at its best; CJ used to pose for me but he’s all grown and isn’t interested in posing. So what was I to do? Paint a self portrait, of course!

    

Self portraits are more complicated than most people realize. You divide your time between staring at your reflection in a mirror and rendering your image on canvas, all the while trying to avoid the entanglement of needless details. Then there’s the matter of flattery. It helps if you have a clear idea of what you look like and don’t mind exposing yourself, warts and all. When I was young I painted myself with an air of sophistication, a nobility of character I didn’t actually possess. I wasn’t good at seeing myself as I really was—a chunky guy with a swarthy complexion and a mouth that seldom stopped moving. A few hours ago I sat down and once more confronted myself. 

    

When I finished my oil sketch I was startled by my grey hair and chubby cheeks (which I used to minimize). I placed my oil sketch in the window to dry and neighbors waved at it thinking it was me, so I guess I captured my likeness. Maybe in addition to painting, the time has come for me to also take up dieting.  

 

 

        

 

 

Here's a quick sketch of Darwin Thomas, my neighbor who died in Vietnam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Comments

28 Comments
You look better than me. Glad that you felt the muse calling again.
By: PT Dilloway on April 30, 2014
Wow- that's awesome..you are very good with a paintbrush!
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on April 30, 2014
you see your flaws - we see it as wonderful! how awesome!
By: TexWisGirl on April 30, 2014
Your talent needs to be shared. Glad you've picked up the brushes again!
By: Shelly on April 30, 2014
Look how cute you are!! I love the way you did the hair, mustache and beard - so realistic. Your portrait's brilliant!! Keep the momentum going and PAINT!! :)
By: Lexa Cain on April 30, 2014
Hey! A selfie! And it's better than I could have done with a camera.
By: Brighton Pensioner on April 30, 2014
I have always been impressed by artists such as yourself. From your minds eye down to your painters hander you create... and in your case a masterpiece. I hope you continue to be inspired. Bravo!
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 30, 2014
Do you ever 'create' from a photograph?
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 30, 2014
You have an amazing talent! I remember years ago when I was in jr. high school I took a required art class. I drew grapes and the teacher said they were very lifelike. Then I tried drawing people. As you know, people are difficult to draw. Mine all looked like grapes. ;)
By: Scott Park on April 30, 2014
Oh Stephen..........with talent like yours, please don't but the brushes away again. Paint......you must.
By: Oma Linda on April 30, 2014
Fabulous- gorgeous portrait- captured your good humor and twinkle in your eyes!
By: Kathe W. on April 30, 2014
That's a fabulous self-portrait. Your talent is considerable because this kind of painting is hard to do.
By: Michael Offutt on April 30, 2014
Excellent! I'm so glad you went back to your paints. I hadn't realized that you'd not painted in a while. I also hope that painting won't keep you from writing. You're a true artist in both areas.
By: Hilary on April 30, 2014
I like what BP called it, an old fashioned selfie! I hope not HAVING to paint will have you to continue to paint again...as long as you don't stop posting.
By: Cranky Old Man on April 30, 2014
Wow, you did capture the warmth and personality of that artist guy.! I think painting people would be the most difficult and rewarding. You could offer a free lunch to your neighbors and paint them? What about photos of people to paint from?
By: Tabor on April 30, 2014
By all means, keep the brushes and paint pots busy. I have enjoyed seeing your art when you feature a piece. You have great touch, style and gift.
By: Tom Cochrun on April 30, 2014
It's a great self portrait, Stephen. I really like it. You are very talented, and too good an artist to give up. Keep painting, my friend! :)
By: Sharon Bradshaw on April 30, 2014
Well, i like how you look!
By: mimi on April 30, 2014
I sure hope that gets the momentum going for you are too talented to not paint. Well done.
By: Akansas Patti on April 30, 2014
I envy you your ability, my friend. Now, maybe you should consider painting yourself in different--astronaut, pirate, or whatever strikes you as interesting.
By: Snowbrush on April 30, 2014
You are a great artist! I like your old-fashioned "selfie" and I think you look quite handsome. Any chance we could see one of your self portrait from earlier years? Keep painting and writing!
By: Pixel Peeper on April 30, 2014
That is awesome and all the other comments are right, you pick it apart because it's yours and we see it for what it is!!! AWESOME!!!
By: Hey monkey butt on April 30, 2014
You notice the grey hair and chubbiness, but you put more into the painting than that. There is a certain kindness and happiness there.
By: red on April 30, 2014
I think when you do something naturally that you love and it changes to a job, it does change everything. Great you have picked up the brushes again. Great image, I think you look very sophisticated!
By: John on May 1, 2014
Wow, that is completely amazing. I am always impressed with how talented you are. I can imagine your family was indeed confused when you stopped painting! It's interesting, because my brother is a cartoonist who was ALWAYS drawing, but then one day, he stopped. This give me a little perspective to it and the hope that he might start up again someday!
By: Kianwi on May 1, 2014
I find your talent amazing. On SOOO many levels. I could of looked at a painting as a kid and said I wanted to do that but I think we can all agree that I have NO talent for it. Crabby Pants is as good as it gets and that isn't saying much. So you can paint a portrait in a matter of a few of hours? I couldn't live long enough to paint a portrait that would be recognizable. I am just awed by your talent and I think your portrait is wonderful.
By: Cheryl P. on May 1, 2014
When there's love and kindness in the eyes nothing else matters. ;) You look wonderful!
By: Rita McGregor on May 2, 2014
This is great!
By: The Bug on May 5, 2014

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