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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Update on Protest II

August 5, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been working on Protest II most days this summer. (The original can be found by going to the Chubby Chatterbox Menu Bar and clicking on Fine Art Paintings.) The last time I posted an update was on June 19th when the canvas was toned and the figures only sketched in. Back then, the painting looked like this:

 

 

I’ve made great progress, although at times it feels like I’m working at a snail’s pace. The microphone, columns, stairs and wheels of the shopping cart still need definition, but here’s what the painting looks like today:

 

 

I painted the central figure in color directly on the canvas instead of using an underpainting method. After spending a ridiculous amount of time on him, I realized this was a mistake; there are so many things I need to change that he’ll be getting a complete repaint. Nothing that you see so far will be visible when I’ve finished.

 

For some reason, I ended up with a bit more space around the guitar player and I needed a device to add interest to this forest of legs. I moved the paper airplane (made from leaflets scattered about) from the ground and now have the little boy throwing it. The original idea of him pointing down at the plane was passive and I think this adds more energy to the scene. When Mrs. Chatterbox saw the change she liked it, but said the plane was going to hit the main character in the privates. I hadn’t realized it, but she was right; I changed its trajectory.

I did manage to get a police dog into the scene, just barely. Can you find him?

 

 

 

Aside from launching the paper airplane, there’s another addition not in the original. As a nod to Where’s Waldo, there’s someone lurking in the background who wasn’t there before. Can you find him?

 

 

I’m looking forward to putting aside the black and white paint and applying colors, which will be like frosting a cake. The original took a year and a half to complete. I hope to have Protest II finished in four months, by the end of October.

 

I hope you’re having a terrific summer.  

 

 

 

 

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Comments

24 Comments
You put yourself in your own painting - that's great! It's frustrating when you work on something for a long time only to realize you did it wrong. But that's the nice thing about paint. You can go back over it.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 5, 2015
Found you! A regular Hitchcock touch...love it. I don't know though, Bob Ross used to complete a painting on TV in an hour. JK.
By: cranky on August 5, 2015
It's really coming along. I hope you're out of the doghouse.
By: Pt Dilloway on August 5, 2015
I would say that it is a great shame that you are not more well known as a truly great artist, but you are rather haughty as is.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on August 5, 2015
This post is a great pedagogic analysis. Absolutely fascinating to glimpse into the work via the artist's impressions. It is a bold and exciting piece.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 5, 2015
This is amazing! And I love the topic...very timely.
By: Scott Park on August 5, 2015
Found you, Waldo!!
By: fishducky on August 5, 2015
You really are so good. Love the many stories within the scene. Yep, I see you though it took awhile.
By: Akansas Patti on August 5, 2015
i like yourself as a protester/observer. :)
By: TexWisGirl on August 5, 2015
I could swear that little-girl-in-arms is giving me the stinkeye!
By: Val on August 5, 2015
Didn't Rembrandt insert himself into his paintings? Nicely done- waiting for the next update! It's fun to watch how things evolve!
By: Kathe W. on August 5, 2015
Yes, I found the dog and the painter. There is a lot to look at here and a lot going on. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
By: red on August 5, 2015
Stephen: I'm working backwards here after 10 days away on the road. I did find the dog (I won't say where). But I believe this painting to be brilliant as it is! That said, your talent is remarkable!!
By: Michael Manning on August 5, 2015
Fantastic! Your attention to detail is just amazing.
By: Bouncin Barb on August 5, 2015
Artists are their own harshest critics. I love the colors in the first one. You've added so much riches and dimension. Taking your time has paid off - in my opinion.
By: Robyn Engel on August 5, 2015
PS I meant "richness" and dimension.
By: Robyn Engel on August 5, 2015
I really like this piece and it is so good that you are sharing the process. Amazing really with all the detail!
By: John on August 6, 2015
I'm impressed with the makeover. Now it's time to get a Harley to go with your bad-ass 'artist' character.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 6, 2015
found both easily. not being a painter I have no idea why you tone in red and black, then do it all over again in grays before you add any color.
By: Ellen Abbott on August 6, 2015
Fascinating! Love the airplane :)
By: The Bug on August 6, 2015
It's looking great, Stephen.
By: Snowbrush on August 6, 2015
Ha! The painter as subject! And that dog just barely made it into the picture. Great work, Stephen. Reminds me a bit of some of Diego Rivera's work.
By: Catalyst on August 6, 2015
Oh, this is an amazing picture. I am full of envy for your ability to create it - how I'd like to be able to do that!
By: Jenny Woolf on August 6, 2015
I've never understood how many layers and how much work goes into a painting. And I certainly never knew that you could just change something AFTER you had painted it. I, too, thought of your putting yourself into your picture as a very Hitchcockian thing to do!
By: Pixel Peeper on August 6, 2015

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