Paint the picture of a perfect surfing day – Orange County Register

As some of you may know, over the past year I’ve transitioned into the art phase of my life.

I’ve painted for many years, but I’ve never really considered them anything other than a fun pastime. In the mid 1980’s I started making airbrush art which I sold in a small gallery in Dana Point – they did pretty well. I was able to use some office space in the back of the SURFER magazine building while I was working there as an advertising director. I quit when I left that job to do a clothing line with Sundek.

About 20 years ago a friend gave me a small acrylic set and I tried my hand at some simple paintings. I put a few of these on the wall in our surf house and guests started buying them. That was all in the just-for-fun-of-it phase. In the past year I haven’t been able to surf as much as I would like due to health reasons, so I got much deeper into painting. At some point down the line it really grabbed me and kept my stutter totally alive and burning. I post them on Facebook and luckily they are selling.

Which brings me to this week’s story. I recently did a painting of Honolua Bay on Maui as I remember it from surfing there in 1964. Sometimes when I post I add a story behind the painting and I did that with this one. It’s been suggested that I elaborate on that, so here’s the more complete story behind the Honolua Bay ’64 painting:

In December of 1964 I was on the North Shore taking one of those annual surf trips to catch some big waves and surf at the annual Makaha International Surfing Championships. A big swell was on the way and everyone was preparing for it. Curt Mastalka, who I stayed with across from Ala Moana last summer, started making a surf film. He stopped by and asked if I wanted to fly to Maui with him and Jock Sutherland to get some shots of us surfing Honolua Bay.

I had only heard stories about this beautiful and amazing surf spot. It only broke when there were big waves, as it was in a position on the island where the waves had to come around a corner. It took a huge swell to achieve this.

I jumped at the chance, hardly anyone surfed there back then. The three of us flew over to score a day on the bay. Unfortunately the airline didn’t bring our boards with them. With only a tiny window to catch the swell, we didn’t have time to wait another day or two for our boards to arrive. So we went to Lahaina and visited Ryan Dotson who had a small surf shop there. We could rent some boards from him.

While visiting the store I met Joanne who would later marry my pal Billy Hamilton. She had a small baby, maybe 6 or 7 months old, in a cradle. I did the standard “oh what a sweet baby” and then did the “goochie goochie goo” thing. When I reached into the cradle to tickle his stomach, he pulled back and bit me. Well, I should say I got “bonded”.

That’s how I originally met my longtime friend Laird John Hamilton.

In later years, when Laird was maybe 8 or 9 and had married Joanne Billy, they lived on the North Shore, just outside Pipeline. I used to babysit Laird when they went out. We would play checkers. If I won, he would throw the checkers at me and hit me over the head with the chessboard. Classic Laird.

I think that fearless attitude gave him the courage to ride the biggest waves known to man and beast growing up. We’re great friends to this day, I love the guy.

Jock and I had a wonderful day surfing Honolua Bay – just us in the water. It wasn’t big, but it was perfect, and the whole thing was pretty magical. What a beautiful place and a beautiful wave.

A friend of mine had sent me a photo of another pal Mark Martinson surfing there at the time and asked if I could draw it. I did it and when I was done I just did the wave one more time myself with no one around. Exactly as I remember it from that day in December 1964. Untouched and perfect.

And that’s the story. Paint the picture of a perfect surfing day – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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