Spencer Reynolds from Portland, Oregon, gives us a deep insight into his roots in surfing and how it influences his art today.
I grew up where the ocean is cold, rough, and the skies are often cloudy. The coast is mysterious and majestic; in my opinion one of the most beautiful places on the planet. My hometown was a modest blue collar place full of loggers and fishermen located on the Southern Oregon coast.
My older brother had a cheap foam body board made out of that Styrofoam used for ice chests; a cloth mesh encased the board holding it together. I dreamed of surfing this thing that closely resembled an ironing board. On my tenth birthday my parents gave me one of my own and also a life jacket (?). I still remember the rush of catching that first white water, riding it to shore and thinking "I must be doing 40 mph" as I slid up the sand.
By the age of thirteen my parents started letting me head to the beach with my friends. We would strap our crude foam boogie boards to our backs, hop onto hand me down bikes some with mismatched wheels and race to the water. We were first generation Southern Oregon breed surfers, embracing the little exposure we had to the 80s, neon t-shirt surfing culture. Our parents resisted buying us wetsuits thinking that surfing was a phase and we would grow out of it. We didn't care that our bodies turned blue from being cold, or about any other obstacles. Our excitement for this newfound thing was enough to keep us coming back for more.
The place where we ventured into the ocean was not a typical surfing spot. It was often a murky windblown shore break with waves coming from three directions. Surfing there was more akin to riding an angry bull, or maybe a pissed off goat (the waves we were riding weren't that big). Waves tossed us into the air without mercy and we loved every minute. Like bull riding we became familiar with how the wave bucked and quickly learned how to ride it as long as we could. But we were far from conquers, the wave had a mind of its own, and occasionally it would rear up to kick us off; our bodies resembling a cowboy getting bucked like a rag doll. We spent every possible minute we could at the beach challenging this mutant wave.
Out of these experiences my story was born. It isn't extraordinary; there are no tales of riding sixty foot Jaws or discovery of world class surf spots. The importance of sharing my story lies in my early excitement for the ocean, my friends and the sport of surfing. These elemental experiences I had in my youth are what motivate my artwork today. Child like discovery, beauty, and joy of creation are abundant themes through out my paintings. Surfing was a part of the catalyst for these life qualities I commonly portray through visual art.
The power and majesty of the ocean are also always portrayed. Reflecting a force bigger and not within our reach of control. The attributes of the ocean and other themes I portray are a small reflection of the maker behind them. I believe that there is a creator that brought the ocean and life into being and continues to give it a pulse.
Hopefully my paintings reflect the wide range of emotions we have for these living themes. Moving the viewer to love and honor life more in all of its forms and in doing so give glory to the Creator.