ISC Thistle Fleet 69 did something different for their meeting in February. Fleet members traded their tillers for paint brushes and created masterpieces of Thistle art. Local artist Anna Afshar led a class that turned sailors into painters… at least for a few hours. Several other ISC members joined us for the event.

Most of us had not picked up a brush since school, so Anna had her hands full with us. She was patient and knew just the right advice to help us. We learned about different brushes, and she showed us how to use acrylic paints, mix and match them to get just the right colors. With a little wine and cheese to round out the tools, we were ready.

First up - create the background of sky and water. Sailors are a pretty brave lot, so a few of us jumped right in and quickly went from blank canvas to big swaths of color. Anna showed us one of the benefits of using acrylics, you can erase them with water! After some quick adjustments, everyone moved onto hulls, masts and sails. We used “burnt umber” for grates and rails. When it came time to do the sails, we learned that there is no such thing as pure white. You always feed in a little color to give white textures depth.

By now, we were starting to sound and act like real artists. But we were not done yet. Funny how a couple of us specifically chose pictures where the sails hid the crew. A calculated move to avoid painting the dreaded human form. Bruce King picked a 1957 photo of 1808 Royal Flush crewed by his mom, dad, and grandfather with all three smiling at the camera. Fearless on the race course, fearless with a brush.

By the end of the afternoon, Anna saw to it that everyone had a unique painting they were proud to call their own. None of us will quit our day jobs to become artists, but we all left with a much better sense of colors and shapes and how together they make up a Thistle sailing under a cerulean blue sky on azure waters. Along the way we taught Anna all the parts of a Thistle. Enough that she’s ready to hop in for a sail come spring.

Every regatta has winners, and this was no different. We pressed Anna’s husband into judging our results and handing out the ribbons. No surprise, Bruce’s Royal Flush painting took first. Sara Crawford took second, and Eric Guion picked up third. Good times for all. No doubt we will do this again.

To see more of Anna's work, go to:
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