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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Sorting Fish on Tonle Sap Lake

July 10, 2017

You might recall a post I published before heading off to France, a post about the new painting taboret I assembled with the help of son CJ. I mentioned that I would have preferred buying an old beat up one off of Craig’s List but instead settled on a new one that I was afraid to use because I didn’t want to mess it up. I can now report that my new taboret is “messed up.” I’ve painted several canvases since returning home, a self-portrait Mrs. C. says makes me look older than I am, (Ain’t love grand) a female head of no one in particular and a large painting based on photographs I shot on Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia a few years back.

 

 

Tonlé Sap Lake is a massive body of freshwater fed by the Mekong River. Hundreds of Vietnamese families fled the war in the 60s and 70s and settled here on houses that must float because the water rises and falls over fifteen feet every year. Fishing is the main livelihood. I was fascinated by these people and took many pictures, which I’ve since turned into a painting.

 

 

 

Sorting Fish on Tonle Sap Lake

 

It’s hard to see in the main photograph, but I’m trying to loosen my painting style to include fewer details and more dynamic brush strokes and palette knife usage. I think some of this is visible in these details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to be less photographic and more expressive, impressionistic. I don’t think I’ll ever get over my love for painting portraits, but every now and then it’s fun to attempt something different.

 

Besides, few people want to sit for a portrait anymore.

 

 

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Comments

21 Comments
I think it's beautiful and the perfect style for the setting.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on July 10, 2017
It's a very nice painting. Anyone would be lucky to hang it on their wall.
By: PT Dilloway on July 10, 2017
Stephen- It's great to get a glimpse "behind the scenes" of your studio. The new "work bench" seems to be working well, and so is the artist! The piece has a great impressionistic feel. Wonderful stroke work-loose, flowing. It is a terrific piece of work. We'd love to see a closer look at the self portrait too. Thanks so much for sharing your artistic skill.
By: Tom Cochrun on July 10, 2017
It's beautiful. I think you do both equally well. As an amateur artist though, I definitely know how one's passion can affect one's enthusiasm for a piece. There's just no replacing that.
By: Michael Offutt on July 10, 2017
I enjoy seeing your work here. You're a very talented individual - not just as an artist, but as writer, too.
By: Kelly on July 10, 2017
It's beautiful; I can tell you're loosening up!!
By: fishducky on July 10, 2017
You have set the bar for yourself- and obviously are succeeding! The basket of fish is stellar
By: Kathe W. on July 10, 2017
Very nice Stephen, I like what you have done here.
By: Jimmy on July 10, 2017
It was neat seeing inside your studio and your various works. I love the sorting fish one. I can see that one in a gallery.
By: Arkansas Patti on July 10, 2017
You are amazing! I could almost smell the river.
By: Val on July 10, 2017
This is quite beautiful. I think of Dali with the fish...the melting clocks:) I love the colours you used and the impressionistic style
By: Birgit on July 10, 2017
Neat paintings--that's an interesting lake that receives water flowing uphill when there is too much water trying to push out of the Mekong Delta.
By: Sage on July 10, 2017
The painting process is so foreign to me but I do like to see what others do. Thanks for the peek. And as Tom said, maybe we can see the self-portrait up close, too ...?
By: jenny_o on July 10, 2017
You never move on unless you try something out of your comfort zone.
By: redKline on July 10, 2017
What you are trying is working, i like this very much!
By: messymimi on July 10, 2017
Learned a new word! Didn't know what taboret was, so as Mom says, looked it up! I would suspect, like kitchen counters, that kind of item is meant to be messed up! :) I like the style, it looks very flowing, fits in with the river aspect, to me, anyway. And I could sit, if I could knit. Then we'd both be busy! Cat
By: Cat on July 11, 2017
You are an incredible talent! So glad the taboret's dirty and you can relax!
By: Mitchell is Moving on July 12, 2017
I like the fact you venture outside your comfort zone by experimenting and experiencing different results.
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 12, 2017
That's lovely!
By: The Bug on July 12, 2017
Never too old for growth in your art.
By: cranky on July 12, 2017
You do amazing work. I think it's good to spread the old wings and try new things. I find myself going back to the things I know.
By: Rick Watson on July 14, 2017

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