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


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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Summer in the Garage

July 31, 2017
Source photograph
Source photograph

This summer I’m spending less time writing and more time in the garage painting. I even cancelled a tennis game last week so I could paint. I told my partner I was taking time away from tennis to take advantage of the great light for my painting. She sent an e-mail telling me to be careful and not fall off my ladder. She must have thought I was painting our house.


In the past week I’ve painted another self-portrait, a few oil sketches and a portrait of Mark Twain, just because I felt like capturing a likeness that wasn’t mine. I combined several photographs and made him look a bit younger than he appeared in my reference pictures, and I’m pleased with the results.




Mark Twain (oil on canvas)




I’ve also started a painting of a guitar player, based on a photograph taken by Kathy W., one of my favorite bloggers. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress.



Guitar Player sketched on canvas.

I made the legs and knees too small and needed to enlarge them.





No details yet, just form and color.



I only paint for my own pleasure and don’t have any time constraints, but I expect to have this picture completed by next week, provided I don’t get distracted.




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Those are great pieces Stephen. Taking time to get back to the things you love is important. R
By: Rick Watson on July 31, 2017
Did I miss the finished painting of I think it was called "Protest"? Love how "The Guitar Player" painting is coming along. Will it be for sale? If so I want first shot at it...I am not a rich man though.
By: cranky on July 31, 2017
Great likeness of Mark Twain. Maybe you could sell it to the museum in Hannibal, MO. Happy painting!
By: Linda on July 31, 2017
Twain looks great and the guitarist is coming together!
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on July 31, 2017
Happy to see you painting with renewed enthusiasm.
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 31, 2017
Maybe after you're done with your paintings you can have another giveaway on your blog here. Or the Twain one might look nice in a library or school.
By: PT Dilloway on July 31, 2017
I envy your talent. No, maybe envy isn't the right word. Anyway... I enjoy seeing your talent on display here.
By: Kelly on July 31, 2017
It is so much fun seeing art through an artist's eye. Watching you critique your own work. Marvelous stuff.
By: Tabor on July 31, 2017
Stephen, The guitar player looks really great in my opinion, and Twain of course turned out well, I like how you made him look younger.
By: Jimmy on July 31, 2017
You really are so talented - thanks for sharing your work with us!
By: The Bug on July 31, 2017
Can we see some of your self portraits?
By: fishducky on July 31, 2017
This all looks really great, Stephen. I can't wait to see them live the next time I'm in town. Probably won't be until 2018, but I'll make a point of making an appointment with you.
By: Michael Offutt on July 31, 2017
This is so cool Stephen! Have fun today painting!
By: Kathe W. on July 31, 2017
You are blessed that your work is play for you now, and we are blessed to get to see the amazing results.
By: messymimi on July 31, 2017
I envy you not only having a passion but having the talent to pursue it. Like Twain a lot and can't wait to see the finished guitar player.
By: Arkansas Patti on July 31, 2017
Marvelous! All great to see. Thanks for giving us a look.It's amazing to see the progress of the guitar player.
By: Tom Cochrun on July 31, 2017
You are just so talented. I love this painting of Twain. You captured his cutting humour in his face..love it. I also love your study of this musician using colour to create the music..great!
By: Birgit Bedesky on July 31, 2017
I really like your Mark Twain painting. It makes him look more modern.
By: red Kline on July 31, 2017
As long as it keeps you off the streets! Seriously, you have quite a talent. I had to snort at the ladder e-mail, though.
By: Val on July 31, 2017
You are an inspiration. Beautiful works!
By: Mitchell is Moving on August 1, 2017
so I guess you are basically retired as am I. only paint for fun and I only do the cast glass for fun but I do have outlets where I can show the work and even sell a piece occasionally. what do you do with your paintings for fun?
By: Ellen Abbott on August 1, 2017
Wonderful portrait and likeness of Mark Twain. It has his depth of character and warmth - especially in the eyes.
By: Robyn Engel on August 1, 2017
How cool that you're painting these, and not a house. I like the developing guitar player. But also a fan of Mark Twain.
By: kerry on August 1, 2017
These are wonderful to look at - I can only imagine how it feels to be able to paint them so well.
By: jenny_o on August 3, 2017
I love how your portrait of Mark Twain turned out. What happens to your paintings after you are done? Do you sell any, or do you just keep them for yourself?
By: Pixel Peeper on August 5, 2017

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