Brush Strokes: The Classics

In classic art, the Ocean is frequently featured as a dark and dangerous entity, waiting to destroy ships and lives. Marine art progressed along with the evolution of ocean going vessels. Swell-producing tempests and shorebreak mayhem, smashing boats to pieces are common subjects of classic seascapes. In many examples, classic artists painted waves with illuminated skill and menacing detail. In this gallery, we’ll take at look at waves in historical fine art.

The coast and waves are a common theme of Japanese painters and printmakers throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The most famous depiction of waves in art history is Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” “The Great Wave” is first in Hokusai’s series entitled “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” produced in the ukiyo-e style of woodblock print making. The artist portrays an iconic and beautiful peak about to smash a fleet of fishing boats…or do they quickly turn their boats and ride the wave safely to shore? Maybe a few of the fishermen jump out and bodysurf the wave to safety…

"The Great Wave off Kanagawa"- Katsushika Hokusai 1829
“The Great Wave off Kanagawa”- Katsushika Hokusai 1829
The Sea off Satta- Utagawa Hiroshige 1859
“The Sea off Satta”- Utagawa Hiroshige 1859
Wreck of the King Philip- Gideon Jacques Denny 1878
“Wreck of the King Philip”- Gideon Jacques Denny 1878
"La Vague"- Gustave Courbet 1870
“La Vague”- Gustave Courbet 1870
"Seascape"- Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1879
“Seascape”- Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1879
"Pourville, Flood Tide"- Claude Monet 1882
“Pourville, Flood Tide”- Claude Monet 1882
The Seashore- Leon Dabo 1900
“The Seashore”- Leon Dabo 1900

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) is best known for his dramatic landscape paintings of the frontier Western United States. But as seen here, he beautifully captured breaking waves and the power of the sea.

The Wave- Albert Bierstadt 1880
“The Wave”- Albert Bierstadt 1880

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900) was a Russian Romantic painter best known for his marine art.

"Ninth Wave"- Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky 1850
“Ninth Wave”- Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky 1850

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was an American landscape painter, known for his seascapes. 


Famous Seascape Paintings
Japanese Wave Paintings

Albert Bierstadt

My Name Is Alice and My Mom Is My Wonderland

By Alice Latuf

I don’t remember a moment in my life I wasn’t surprised by my mom, Briguitte Linn Wiedemeyer.

Since I was a little girl, I have this image of her as someone who could do anything if she wanted to. But the thing is, she does what she loves – and, thank god, it has everything to do with water.imagensA޺midas2016-6399

Her first contact with water was when she was 2 years old: she fell at the sailing club her family frequented and almost drowned. I don’t really understand why, but in the moment, she fell in love. Her family moved to Portugal and she went to beach all the time, and even though the North Atlantic is always freezing, her mother only could take her way from the ocean when her lips were blue.

When they moved back, she was 5 and my grandfather gave her a snorkel and a pair of fins. The sea became her playground, but she lived in a city without beaches. Every year during summer, they went to their beach house on vacation and she played in the waves for hours and hours.

She was a swimmer from age 14 until 24 and then she started to sail until age 31, always competing and traveling because of it. She always tells me one of her favorite trip to Japan in 1984.imagensA޺midas2016-6460

Since then, bodysurfing is her passion. Her life is all around it. She works so she can go on trips to surf with other people, meet new styles and learn how to be better.

We live in Garopaba, where she raised me. It’s a small city, famous for the good waves in Santa Catarina, Brazil. She has a gym, and the place is just amazing – with two swimming pools, both heated, one 25m and the other of 8m and a dancing room. She teaches kids and adults to swim, and everything is just lovely.

There aren’t any other bodysurfers around here, so it’s kinda hard to explain what we do – people are always closed to “new” things. Even though bodysurf is as old as surf itself. It is also nice, because as a small town, sometimes there is just us out there, the beach and the waves just for us.imagensA޺midas2016-6496

At the south of Brazil, we have all kinds of weather. The seasons are very different from each other. Sometimes the water is cold like in California. In summer it is hot as Costa Rica. Still, it is an amazing place.

I’m always grateful for my mother choosing this city to live. The waves are great. We are about ten minutes from our favorite beach, Silveira. The beaches are between hills. If the wind comes from the south, we are going to surf on the south side of the beach, protected from the wind.

The north side of Silveira is excellent for bodysurfing. When it’s big, there are a lot of tubes but the wave is really fast. In the south, the wave opens more and is slower so you can think more.

Briguitte loves the south, thank god – the north is all mine!

I’m amazed by everything my mother has done – but bodysurfing is what makes her the happiest. The way this sport makes people feel is out of this world. Thank you for sharing this love!

Eschrichtius Robustus

2/25/16- San Diego, California

Good- Epic.

The surf was huge and perfect, with local buoy readings of 8ft. at 18″, directly from the west. Double overhead+ peaks moved at a velocity rarely experienced. Windless, glassy conditions persisted throughout the morning. Two months of extraordinarily solid surf removed most sand from the beach and left behind piles of rock. With high tide smashing head-high whitewater off the cliff, entry and exit are hectic. After catching several dreamy waves, I went to the top of the cliff to photograph the epic surf from my favorite vantage point. Peaks continuously bent and warped out of the Canyon, thundering in the neon blue-green water. Two bodysurfers began riding waves, sans wetsuits in the 80°, 11am sun. Trading barrel rides, they lasted about 45 minutes.

AR8A2793A pod of 8 dolphins appeared from the south, not out of the ordinary for this area. They rode waves together and kicked out the back. Then I spotted a larger dark spot in the water. I first thought it was the dolphins in a tight bunch. As I watched, it became clear that a gray whale was cruising shockingly close to shore. The dolphins swam circles around the large cetacean as though escorting him into uncharted whale territory.

Gray whales migrate annually from summer feeding grounds east of Alaska to winter nursing grounds along the Baja Peninsula. Spouts and flukes are frequently witnessed along the Southern California coast as the whales move north and south within 2.5 miles of the coastline. The 13,000 mile round-trip migration is believed to be the longest of any mammal. 

This specimen was apparently a male, getting an early start on the long swim north to Alaska. He continued his cruise along the shoreline, dolphins buzzing around. I was concerned. I’ve spotted plenty of whales and some of them just beyond the breakers. But this whale was now 40 feet from shore and in about 5 feet of water. An unusual and uncomfortable place for a 40 foot, 30 ton marine mammal. I was prepared to call SeaWorld Animal Rescue and help them push the creature back into the sea.

AR8A2790At his closest approach, a wave broke across the whale’s back and he disappeared in the white water.  I anxiously watched, thinking he would roll up on the beach anytime. Finally, I caught a glimpse of him as he was headed back out to sea. Probably exhilarated with his first taste of breaking wave energy. He was headed straight towards the pack of surfers sitting at one of the peaks. I watched intently through my camera lens to witness the surfers shock if the whale surfaced in the middle of the lineup. But I never saw the whale again and haven’t heard of a beached whale. So, I’ll just assume that the whale had been feeling the pulses of El Niño wave energy passing by for weeks and wanted a closer look.




El Niño is real. As predicted, a series of solid swells are producing substantial surf throughout the North Pacific. The jet stream is firmly established in a southerly position and a seemingly nonstop train of WestNorthWest swells are marching across the NPAC region. Are you tired yet?

Powerful Jet Stream Image: NOAA
Powerful Jet Stream Image: NOAA

A couple months ago, I wrote a piece called Swell Affective Disorder. The month of November 2015 was dismal for California surf and I was feeling the effects. Fast forward 2 months and it’s been head high+ for almost 3 weeks straight. We are spoiled. The entire North Pacific is drenched in swell. A new affliction is beginning to affect some waveriders: swell fatigue. Many chest high waves go unridden in between overhead swells. Waves that a dozen people would fight over in July, break empty during an El Niño winter.

Nobody around.
Nobody around.

Arms are tired, backs are sore. Head’s full of water. Wetsuits smell terrible.  A chest high wave isn’t as exciting when it was 10ft last weekend and another solid swell is coming in a couple days. “Surfed out” is a real thing. Drive down the coast and check your local spots. Even the most popular might have a significant decrease of heads in the water.

You have to go out . Remember flat spells? Remember how it feels after 2 weeks of weak surf? Remember how you crave the Ocean’s energy? There it is. Right out front, right now. Fill your Vision bank. You’ll wish you had this much swell come July. Nothing gold can stay. It will go flat again. The long range forecast will go quiet. And you’ll be left with nothing but the memories of pumping El Nino surf. Always take advantage of swell when it hits your local shore. 



Purple Blob Report: Summer & Fall 2015

A strengthening El Nino, record breaking water temperatures and the most intense storm in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Summer 2015 was a dynamic and interesting meteorological season. From May-October, at least 2 swells came monthly, making for a solid surf season.

The 2015 South Swell Season started early with a healthy dose of southern hemi swell in late March.

South Swell with NW windswell- March 28, 2015
South Swell with NW windswell- March 28, 2015

Back to back, steep, south swells impacted California in early May. The second swell packed a serious punch with 25 second periods! Unfortunately, the angle was steep and persistent north wind made the conditions less than ideal. Although, there were fun windows of well overhead, heavy surf.

The 2015 Eastern Pacific Hurricane season witnessed a record breaking 30 depressions, 26 named storms, a record 16 hurricanes and a record 11 major hurricanes. Including the all-time strongest storm, Hurricane Patricia on October 23rd.   With sustained 200 mph winds, if the scale extended, she would’ve been a Category 7! This monster veered away from destroying Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at the last moment, instead impacting a far less populated area of the Mexican coast.

For the first time in recorded history, 3 major hurricanes, Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena spun simultaneously in late August. They sent a plethora of swell throughout the Pacific, especially to Hawaii.

Late summer/fall through October, saw a very active southern hemisphere storm track and a series of strong pulses of swell.

Overall, Summer/Fall of 2015 was a solid season, with consistent pulses from the Southern Hemisphere and a record breaking tropical season. Record breaking water temperatures kept wetsuits in the closet until November. Most mornings and evenings had good offshore/glassy conditions.

Unfortunately, November 2015 is the worst month of surf in a couple years. However, El Nino is real, so go ahead and get excited about this coming winter!