Russell has been a passionate surfer for over 40 years. As a boy, he drew surf images in sketchbooks and the margins of his schoolwork, dreaming of the next wave. This obsession never subsided and he continues his surf drawings to this day. The surf works resonate strongly with surfers yet have also been acclaimed by fine art galleries and museums.
In the mid 1980's, Russell officially started his ongoing sketchbook series "California Homegrounds" -- stories of real and imagined surf spots and characters, sometimes using surf world lingo and other times made up phrases that make up Russell's particular take on the surf world. They carry the roughened patina of being always on hand at the beach, in the studio or on the road.
Sketching at the beach in Ireland.
Out of the California Homegrounds books evolved a more formal approach to drawing surf images -- the grid drawings. Within a penciled grid, small gestural surfers and waves, drawn with ball-point pen, create two distinct effects... up close, the drawings become dynamic sequential motion -- yet from afar, they are minimal, abstract and quiet. Some of these drawings are massive, up to 10 x 20 feet, containing over 40,000 individual cells.
Installation of Surf Drawing Blue at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in 2009. Drawing is in three sections, 118 x 240 inches.
During the same time, Russell produced a large amount of unique prints. These monoprints were created by coated the print plate with blue or black ink and drawing directly onto the plate. Like the California Homegrounds books, they are very personal, loose depictions of imagined and real surfing episodes.
Recent surf works include more California Homeground issues along with large scale books depicting favorite surf locations, some with detailed maps and overlays. He is also making drawings of singular surfing moments drawn with driftwood sticks dipped in india ink with washes of subtle color in gouache.
The River B, 2009
Steep Beach Pull In, 2009
Grey Bluffs, 2009
© 2010, RUSSELL CROTTY
Field Guide to Selected Surf Breaks I, 2007