Watercolors by
  Bill Hudson     
Monthly Newsletter 

        Crab Shacks

 15” x 22” Watercolor by Bill Hudson
          $1,550 with custom frame

Ref. Beautiful Swimmers Revisited (2019)
        by Tom Horton, Dave Harp
           & Sandy Cannon-Brown

Permission Granted

by Bill Hudson

We just returned home after a perfect two-week vacation. We drove along the California and Oregon coast to my favorite west-coast town, Newport, Oregon where we stayed a week with several members of our large family, including my brother and sister’s families.

   As a maritime watercolor artist from a family of watermen, Newport has incredible appeal being the official, registered “Dungeness Crab Capital of the World.” Over the past two decades during many visits, I’ve taken thousands of reference photographs of the harbor and its large fishing fleet.

   Because I’m a slow painter of ships that are sometimes moving, I rarely paint quick studies in plein air. I’d rather spend my time talking with crew members and taking photographs. Back in my studio, I down select best compositions and play with cropping, saturation, contrast, brightness, hue, sharpness, etc. 

   An event occurred during this trip that convincingly demonstrated the advantages of my approach. Imagine yourself set up to paint the Western Breeze (shown in Figure 1) sitting next to Newport’s Dock 5 fuel station on Thursday, June 9. She’s a famous 58-foot commercial fishing vessel once featured on the TV series “Deadliest Catch: Dungeon Cove.” You witness a crewman running from the vessel and think that would be good action to include in your composition.

   As you begin sketching, you notice the waterline rising as the freeboard dangerously decreases. Before you can even apply paint, the composition tragically changes to Figure 2.
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
    “The boat owner, Gary Ripka told a reporter the vessel sank after a “green” crew member turned off an auxiliary pump and left the check valve open, causing water to back flow and quickly fill the hold. When the boat began sinking, which only took about 15 minutes, that crew member literally ran from the scene. He declined to identify the crew member by name. Ripka said the vessel’s hull was sound, but millions of dollars of equipment inside were completely ruined by the salt water.” (Ref News-Times)

  On Friday morning June 10th, the port’s barge-borne crane, a salvage crew, and divers began to raise the vessel as shown in Figure 3… a costly procedure. 

   On a lighter note, I came to Newport more ready than ever to recreationally catch and eat crabs. From Amazon I had purchased several versions of a relatively new invention called “crab snares” which can be baited and cast into the water with a fishing pole. Around a small bait cage are multiple flexible loops which cinch down and entangle crabs as they consume the bait. Soon after arriving at our beach home, we were casting the snares far into rough surf with two 12-foot surf poles. My nephew Elliot’s 9-year-old son, Sean, was fascinated with this approach, but seemed discouraged by the catch. So, to hold his interest, I offered $1 for each crab he caught that afternoon. But Sean and my son Joe only caught a few before calling it quits.

  The next morning about 15 of us rented two outboard-powered skiffs that each hold 3 to 4 people. Both boats had 3 crab rings baited with chicken. My remaining family members simply dropped a crab ring and crab snares from the dock while waiting their turn to board a skiff.

  In the first boat was Elliot, Sean, and my daughter Kim…all of whom had never been crabbing. In the second boat was myself, my daughter-in-law, Katie, and my 6-year-old granddaughter, Talia. We dropped our first row of three rings over a distance of about 300 yards, returned within 15-minutes to the first ring, and pulled ‘er up. It was the beginning of a spectacular day! Every ring had 5 to 10 crabs with a mix of rock and Dungeness crabs. The daily bag limit per person for Dungeness crab is 12 (males only; 5 ¾ inches minimum size); the daily limit for red rock crab is 24 of any size or sex. 

   As we were hauling in the beginnings of an incredible feast, I occasionally looked over to the other skiff. When each ring was pulled to the surface, young Sean began dancing and screaming. They too were hitting it big.

  After two hours, and a bucket full of crabs, we returned to the dock to change out passengers. We waited for Elliot, Kim, and Sean who followed us into the harbor. As they docked, Sean stood tall in their boat and yelled, “Uncle Bill, you owe me 50 bucks!”

   It’s hard to know how many crabs we caught that day, but we cooked and ate ‘em all. Part of the ritual is how we Marylanders have been raised on steamed…not boiled…crabs. And the procedure is critical. For that, I also brought my own crab-steamer and Old Bay seasoning from home. Here’s the process:

(1)   Each crab is abundantly coated with a mixture of 2/3 Old Bay seasoning, 1/3 salt, and a sprinkle of Cayenne or Red Pepper.
(2)   The Old Bay’d crabs are stacked with their bottom side down in a steamer basket which is suspended over a closed boiling mixture of 1/3 vinegar, 1/3 beer, and 1/3 water.
(3)   Stop steaming when the top crab is bubbling from the mouth and the shells are looking red and dry—approximately 30 minutes for a large batch.

   I’ve never had a bad day crabbing in Oregon. But this day, in early June, surpassed all others. I think we simply arrived earlier than all the other summer vacationing, chicken-neckers.
Again, I thank each of you for your continued interest in this Newsletter. I particularly appreciate your responses. If you wish to make any art related announcements or comments that may benefit the readers, feel free to submit them for the next issue.
Past Newsletters
Past Newsletters are listed chronologically by title in the Newsletter section of my website www.BillHudsonArt.com/newsletter/

Events & Galleries
Singulart, an online gallery selling original art from juried artists with free global shipping and returns. I recommend Singulart for any collector or contemporary artist.
Fine Art America, is an online print-on-demand gallery which sells nearly all my images. These are available in a wide range of sizes on many substrates and objects including: coffee cups, shirts, towels, greeting cards, puzzles, phone cases, and tote bags.
Art Instructor, Laguna Methodist Art Association, Mondays in January, 9:30 to 12:30