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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Protest II: Finale

February 8, 2016

Over the past few months much has happened at Casa Chatterbox and I just now realized I never posted final pictures of Protest II, my effort to recreate a smaller version of a massive painting I created fifteen years ago. Both versions of The Protest show a group of people on the steps of a public building. Some are actively engaged in a protest while others, like the bag lady with the shopping cart, pass this spot every day and have been swept up in the action. I haven’t stated what this protest is about, leaving it to the viewer to figure it out; there is no correct answer. I like painting people, and placing them on steps makes it possible to flesh out many personalities without those in the foreground blocking those behind.

 

 

           

This black and white acrylic sketch from 1996 gives an idea of how the idea progressed in my mind.

 

 

 

 

Composition sketched onto canvas

 

 

Some of the characters appear much the same in this new version while others were added to the composition later on. The canvases are different dimensions so the composition had to be slightly altered to strengthen the drama. In the final picture, cast shadows on the pavement beneath the bag lady hint at other protesters off screen. The paper airplane has been moved from the pavement to add interest to an otherwise bland space, and I added a self-portrait in the background in imitation of artists I admire, masters like Velazquez and Goya.

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original painting took eighteen months to complete (It can be seen by clicking on Fine Art Paintings on my menu bar) and this new version took five months. I hadn’t anticipated it taking so long but painting the faces on a smaller scale proved more of a challenge than I’d imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

I think I can finally put this image to rest and move on to other projects.  

 

 

 

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Comments

36 Comments
Nice. Are you the one in the back by the guy in purple with the flute?
By: PT Dilloway on February 8, 2016
Turned out really well! Great details.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on February 8, 2016
In my opinion... you painted a younger version of yourself. I appreciate the close-ups, to see the details in your painting. Terrific work! Are you pleased with the end result?
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 8, 2016
good job. I hate to re-do projects. sometimes I have to if the architectural glass gets damaged during installation and on the rarest occasions I will in the cast glass if I'm really attached to the piece. my latest failure will stay that way. for a while anyway.
By: ellen abbott on February 8, 2016
Great work x 2
By: John on February 8, 2016
wow- superb re-do. The bag lady with her cat is especially poignant- given the homeless situation we have all over the world.
By: Kathe W. on February 8, 2016
Currently reading Americans in Paris and finding the evaluations of various works of art as well as history of those American painters fascinating. Your protest painting is nicely updated!!
By: Tabor on February 8, 2016
Very impressive piece of work, Stephen. Turned out well.
By: Botanist on February 8, 2016
I really like this painting. I'm stunned by your ability to draw so many different faces and use so many skin tones.
By: Michael Offutt on February 8, 2016
This is an excellent painting and there is so much imagery I am conjuring up in my head. First are you the guy on the upper right hand corner with the glasses? The old bag lady with the netting around her representing a prison in some ways is so poignant. The one guy at the front reminds me of John Lennon and the centre guy almost feels like he is Jesus. This reminds me of a great painting by Raphael caled the School of Athens
By: Birgit on February 8, 2016
i like all the background faces to add to the hub-bub.
By: TexWisGirl on February 8, 2016
I still think the guy tootling the flute in the upper right corner (next to you) is Jerry Garcia. It's a great work of art.
By: Catalyst on February 8, 2016
What patience! What dedication! What talent!
By: Mitchell Is Moving on February 8, 2016
This is a wonderful painting that one can study and still not see it all. What amazing detail and characters. Lots of stories in that painting.
By: Arkansas Patti on February 8, 2016
I think it came out really well. So much to take in. If the original wasn't done so long ago I would say it is a Trump rally.
By: cranky on February 8, 2016
You do fine work, Stephen!!
By: fishducky on February 8, 2016
I find your talent amazing. The flute player by you does look like Jerry Garcia. As for the protest...I love that it's up to our imaginations to figure out what is going on. Because you put a lot of diversity in there it could be any number of things. Very interesting!!
By: Cheryl P. on February 8, 2016
I'm not sure what the protest is about but you've got the protest emotion there. You can feel the tension.
By: red on February 8, 2016
Very nice, I love the detail and the way it captures so many unique people.
By: Sage on February 8, 2016
Impressive! Sweetie thought so, too.
By: messymimi on February 8, 2016
I recognized you too, back there on the right. A masterpiece!
By: Tom Sightings on February 8, 2016
So many interesting stories in this painting! Will you try to sell it?
By: Pixel Peeper on February 8, 2016
Most impressive! Are you putting it up for sale?
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on February 8, 2016
I am exhausted just looking at all of them and imagining their backstories. Well done.
By: Val on February 8, 2016
I'm not sure if this is heresy to a painter or not, but this is the kind of scene I would love to put together as a puzzle. There's so much detail. Very interesting!
By: jenny_o on February 8, 2016
Can I just say- WoW! You are very talented. Every face tells a story. Awesome painting.
By: Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines on February 9, 2016
You've had a few things on your mind. I don't think anyone will hold anything against you.
By: Al Penwasser on February 9, 2016
Stephen: The detail here is nothing short of amazing. Your gift of art is put to great use in this project, and as always, it's a joy to see what you are up to!
By: Michael Manning on February 9, 2016
Lana, life mate, artist and teacher instructor is impressed with Protest and your talent. So am I, but it's her evaluation that has value. Thanks for providing this glimpse into your creative process.
By: Tom Cochrun on February 9, 2016
I admire your use of color to draw the eye into and around the painting. Very classical.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on February 9, 2016
How on earth did you learn how to do that? That is remarkable. R
By: Rick Watson on February 10, 2016
Color me impressed! Oddly, I was drawn as much to the different oufits everyone was wearing. Why, I don't know, but it adds as much that way, as looking at the faces, for me. (And I agree with some of the others, you nailed Jerry Garcia on the flute player!) Cat
By: Cat on February 10, 2016
Bravo! I'd call this one of your greatest. There's emotion screaming from every inch of canvas, Stephen. VERY WELL DONE, and I'm grateful you brought it to us.
By: Robyn Engel on February 10, 2016
AWESOME!!
By: Hey Monkey Butt on February 10, 2016
Fantastic Stephen. Your attention to detail is just amazing.
By: Bouncin Barb on February 10, 2016
Astonishing, Truly fantastic!
By: STL Fan on February 11, 2016

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