10 April 2010
I am a second generation California native born in Los Angeles in 1951. My father was born and raised on Catalina Island. He became a master craftsman with the ability to fashion beautiful things from wood and metal including the restoration of classic automobiles. I guess that is where my artistic abilities came from.
When I was two years old my family moved to Long Beach seven miles from the ocean. At the age of eight I started mat surfing at Seal Beach pier. In 1962 I traded a Schwinn ten speed for a dinged up water logged Velzy Jacobs. My father cut off the de-laminated nose and re-shaped it into a functional eight footer. I made a trailer for my bike and peddled to Seal Beach every chance I could. On occasion I would get a ride to Bolsa Chica or Huntington where I would do my best in the more challenging surf. After high school I lived in Seal Beach for a few years then moved to Huntington Beach for eleven years.
The surf magazines and movies had a great influence on my life. They opened the door to photography, art and travel. After reading that Mike Doyle had bought property on the Oregon coast, and surfed uncrowded perfection, Oregon became my new destination. It was cheap travel with empty waves a mere 17 hour all night drive away. Throughout most of the 1970's and 1980's I headed north a couple of times each year to surf places like Port Orford, Lincoln City, Cape Blanco, Cape Kiwanda and The Point.
I have never had any formal art instruction. While in high school I started drawing with pen and ink. Cars, particularly race cars, fascinated me so I drew a lot of them. I began submitting drawings to many of the car magazines and eventually they were published in Road & Track, Classic Auto Restorer and others. It wasn't until 1995 that I felt an urgency to direct my art focus toward surfing. I started experimenting with watercolor and I found that painting water with watercolor was very rewarding. I have been told that my technique is unconventional but it works for me so I guess I just don't know any better. I have painted some of the surfers who have inspired me, guys like Mickey Munoz and Skip Frye, and places I have enjoyed surfing.
The Oceanside Longboard Club is grateful to Bob Merson for providing the club with original artwork since 2001 for contest programs and T-shirts. For his available works or to contact him, please visit http://www.surferstudio.com.