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John Kaelin Art Collections

Shop for artwork from John Kaelin based on themed collections. Each image may be purchased as a canvas print, framed print, metal print, and more! Every purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Artwork by John Kaelin

Each image may be purchased as a canvas print, framed print, metal print, and more! Every purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

About John Kaelin

John Kaelin These are true-to-scale paintings of the biggest waves ever surfed in high definition. Some are imaginary reconstructions of actual events, such as Ken at Log Cabins on "Biggest Wednesday", and Greg Noll at Makaha. There were no photos taken of their historic rides. Others are from sketches I made from viral videos and photos. All surfer and photographer names are available on request. The Mike Parsons wave painting is based on the original photograph by Robert Brown but with a unique view of the trough. There IS NO photograph of Ken Bradshaw's biggest wave. Hank's famous photo featured on Ken Bradshaw's web site was a smaller 65-footer Ken rode later the same day. Greg Noll's wave is mythical, with the scale based on Larry Goddard's photo of another wave in the same set. I heard that Greg lost his board before Goddard's photo was shot, then Greg retrieved his board and was able to paddle into another wave. I cannot believe that Falzon's photo is the biggest wave ever surfed at that time. Garrett MacNamara's painting is based on a frame from a video and I disagree with the Billabong XXL's judgment that it was 78 feet high, not even close to it. It was in the mid-60s. This is my educational mission for the world to have HD versions of famous surfing events so they can compare famous waves and judge for themselves how tall or massive the waves were. Estimating wave height at this time is an imprecise art. There should be a way to scan the wave with radar to capture the exact wave height. The most recent development in big-wave surfing is a new world record for biggest wave ever surfed at Nazare, Portugal on 10-29-2020 Sebastian Steudtner was credited with towing into and riding an 86-foot wave. The biggest wave ever paddled into was Aaron Gold at Jaws on 1-14-18. I had to paint Aaron's wave because it is a new world record, "biggest wave ever paddled into." Instead of using still photos, I used a single frame from the water-angle video (search YouTube for Aaron Gold 1-15-16 wave at Jaws, water-angle video. I froze the video then photograph the screen to get a 4"x6" print to put on an opaque projector to sketch guidelines on a high-density foam panel 20"x30". To resolve the details of the blurred surfer image, I superimposed my image, posing in a similar stance as in the photo, on top of the low-res image, and also photograph myself standing up straight to get an accurate crouching-ratio, which in this case is about 75%. My original intention was the title of each painting would be the name of the surfer, location, and date. Under description I would also give credit to the photographer, but only if the surfer AND photog gave me permission. Ideally the photog would contact the surfer then photog gives me permission for both. Their names cannot be used because then it would be "profiting off their names" until they contact me and give me permission to use their names. My paintings of Aaron Gold, Mike Parsons, Ken Bradshaw, and Greg Noll are not simply taken from photos, they are reconstructions, but the waves presented here are TRUE TO SCALE. So that exempts them from my need for permission. See fair use. Since my paintings are a number of things, including commentary, record-keeping and record comparison, criticism, news reporting, research, and teaching (such as how wave height is estimated and the influence of camera angle on apparent wave height) we must discuss "Fair Use". "FAIR USE" IN COPYRIGHT LAW "Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. It is one type of limitation and exception to the exclusive rights copyright law grants to the author of a creative work. Examples of fair use in United States copyright law include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. My paintings here include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, and scholarship. "Fair Use" provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work. These are photo-realistic paintings based on copyrighted photographs and could be "confusingly similar" to the original photo. "Fair use is one of the traditional safety valves intended to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public interest in the wider distribution and use of creative works by allowing certain limited uses that might otherwise be considered infringement." "Fair Use prevents the private ownership of work that rightfully belongs in the public domain, facts and ideas [e.g. giant-wave surfing] are not protected by copyright only their particular expression or fixation merits such protection." Here you can buy a 6' x 6' shower curtain, or many other kinds of prints, of a famous big-wave surf scene, which would not otherwise be available from the photographer. Size matters, so I encourage big-wave surf enthusiasts to order one of my 6'x6' shower curtains for about $70. When you receive it iron the back of it carefully with a low heat. Then stretch it out on the wall, pin it to a wall using about 8 or more tiny nails, stretching out the curtain as much as possible. Then after seeing this large picture, over a period of time, you will finally come to understand the scale of modern big-wave surfing. REGARDING "HIGH DEFINITION" These pictures are "high definition" because the center of interest in each picture the surfer is clearly defined and contrasted with the background through illustrative techniques, that is all. The water is represented with simple brush strokes. These prints are as HD as my 16 megapixel camera can reproduce, but the original paintings are higher resolution. Notice that you can clearly see how small the surfer is in every picture even in small thumbnails, whereas in the original photo the surfer is usually a blur. Surf photographers, please contact me. Anyone interested in having their favorite surf photo enlarged into an acrylic on panel painting, please contact me. Anyone want a giant mural of a surfer riding a giant wave? "BIGGEST-WAVE SURFING" has been my focus since Biggest Wednesday in Hawaii on 1-28-98. After that I've been painting and analyzing the height of the biggest waves surfed each year. I do this by photographing my pc screen after I freeze a video, or grainy photo. The resulting low-res image requires illustrative technique to reconstruct and improve upon it by hand and paint brush, so it can be analyzed. The surfer is usually the center of interest in surfing pictures, and big-wave surfing photos often show the surfer as a tiny blur, a dark speck against a dark wall, followed by an almost imperceptible trail, like early photos of planet Pluto. My mission is to clarify an historic event so the general public can understand the awesome scale of modern big-wave surfing. This is a global, educational mission. There is no other collection, that I am aware of, showing together the biggest waves ever surfed, in high definition. Realism and true scale are most important to my work. How do I enhance realism and true scale? By more contrast and by reconstruction. For example, in the case of Shawn Dollar on a 61-footer at Cortez Bank, in the definitive photo the surfer is a blur. So I photographed myself posing in the same stance as the surfer. Then I superimposed my image on top of the blurred surfer in the photograph. BIOGRAPHY My father was a high school art teacher and cartoonist. As an art major in college I started doing ceramics, pottery and abstract ceramic sculptures at the age of 16. I worked as a production potter for a year while making pottery in college to sell in the annual student art sales. After a few years, I turned away from clay and filled about 20 sketchbooks with abstract water colors, then surreal line drawings. A fascination for Salvador Dali's technical expertise propelled me through my disturbed, surreal period which lasted a few years. In 1980 earning a living became more important than art, so I mostly quit doing art and found jobs as an office clerk for several years. Then I was given the opportunity to return to college but only to study something practical, accounting. While working at accounting and bookkeeping jobs for 24 years, I gradually returned to art, little by little, but only because of my new passion for big-wave surfing. Since 1998 every year I had to paint the biggest waves surfed that year. The result is a collection of historic scenes of the biggest waves ever surfed, something you can find nowhere else but here. There seems no way the photographers or surfers could coordinate this kind of collection which includes my commentary about each wave under "Description" and about big-wave surfing in general. My collection of big-wave surf paintings grew slowly, year after year, until now I have nearly 50. At this time, most are 20" x 30" but 6 are 30" x 40" and my largest is 3' x 4'. THANK YOU to the surf PHOTOGRAPHERS!!!, without their work big-wave surfing would not exist for most of us, including myself. Big-wave surfing is special in that it is obviously amazing, but also rarely seen, and seen by only a few people. That gives it a scarcity unlike most sports. The only problem is that small photographs of big-wave surfing scenes usually don't convey the impression of awesome scale. It takes a BIG and clearly contrasting picture to give you a true impression. IN PHOTOS AND VIDEO the surfer appears like a tiny dark speck against a dark background, followed by a faint grey trail. Good luck at comprehending that. Watching a video of it is interesting but difficult to appreciate what is happening. It all happens too fast. Videos and photographs are all we have, but they are not good enough. What I do is a corrected, clarified version of a photograph. I call my style "photo-realistic-impressionistic" because I follow photos very carefully to get all the elements and scale TRUE, after that I have fun making alterations to the details with brighter more intense colors, and especially contrasting techniques. When you look closer you can see my brush strokes. CENTER OF INTEREST The surfer is the center of interest in these paintings, so the surfer must be CLEAR so you can see how small he or she is compared to the wave. I try to splash a halo around the surfer, whenever possible, so the black wet suit contrasts more with the background. The light source is usually from the right because my brush strokes of light blue chop arcs always face right. No matter how glassy the water is in the photograph I usually add a slight chop, so it looks more watery. ILLUSION OF THE SMALL PICTURE This is what I call the "Illusion of the Small Picture." There is an optical illusion when you look at a small picture of a big-wave surf scene. In the SMALL picture (such as now on your PC screen or in a magazine) the wave may look big..... but NOT VERY big. The bigger the picture is the more the human mind can comprehend the scale. We don't fully appreciate the scale of these waves until we stand next to a life-sized mural or witness them live and up CLOSE. Few people get that special opportunity. Order one of my 6' x 6' shower curtain prints, iron the back using low heat, and stretch it out on your wall with 8 or more small nails, stretching it out the best you can. Then gaze at the scene from up close, day after day, and you will begin to comprehend the scale of biggest-wave surfing. RISK TECHNICIANS Astonishing to think there are guys and gals, "risk technicians" who have fun scaring the hell out of themselves by playing with this awesome force of nature by surfing the biggest waves, something I would not want to do. HIGH VS LOW CAMERA ANGLES Water-angle shots are my preference because it gives you the true view from folks sitting in the water on their boards, it is a conservative impression of the wave height. Water-angle shots give an understated impression of size compared to the exaggerated impression from a high camera angle, looking down from a cliff or from a chopper. Water-angle photos make the waves look smaller than they really are. It gives you the view from a surfer sitting on his board, facing impending danger. That is more interesting than looking down from a safe, high cliff position. From the water, you see the mountain approaching, growing taller, crest jacking higher in the sky as the uneven reef pushes the water column higher. Then the lip throws forward and lights out. Imagine what Jamie Mitchell saw when that 70-footer landed on his head at Belharra, France. He was wearing a life jacket so he could not dive under to safety, so he literally took the wave on the head. Photos from Nazare, Portugal, are most often taken from a very high cliff, 100 meters high, which gives a false impression of a bigger wave. Photos from Jaws and Mavericks are also often taken from the cliff. What impresses me most is when photographers put themselves in front of the wave, in danger on jet ski, to get a great water-angle shot. Some of my waves are "artist's conception scale" what it would look like to see surfing on a hundred foot wave. There is no photo of Greg Noll at Makaha on 12-4-69, my painting of that is imaginary based on his board 11'4" long. One of my paintings of Ken Bradshaw at Log Cabins on 1-28-98 (still generally accepted as the biggest wave ever surfed) is imaginary. Nobody photographed his rogue wave at 11:30am. It has been generally accepted by experts as over 80 feet. Who knows how much taller? (For my reference, I joined Fine Art America on 4-7-15. By 6-9-15, I received 328 views. After that: DATE VIEWS 7-2-15 380 7-15-15 717 9-26-15 2302 10-31-15 2598 12-31-15 4651 4-1-16 6475 4-7-16 6620 (one year) 5-1-16 7056 6-1-16 8908 7-1-16 10,073 8-1-16 10,746 9-1-16 12,523 10-1-16 13,633 11-1-16 15,120 12-1-16 15,235 6-1-17 18,171 9-1-17 18,363 1-1-18 18,601 4-18-18 18,746 1-01-19 19,407 1-27-24 36,989