Artist Derek Knobbs loves to paint human skulls. More specifically—hirsute skulls, sailor skulls, logger skulls etc.—all of whom depend on the sea to make their, uh, living.
Much of his seemingly morbid fascination with the “unliving,” stems from a childhood spent near the source of his true inspiration:
Although I grew up near the sea—never more than an hour away—I never really gave it much thought. In fact my interests laid in the opposite: the hills, the desert, the prairie. But the sea wore on me; I can’t go anywhere without passing over the Puget Sound. I am surrounded by a rich maritime history and I am surrounded by the mysterious life in these cold waters. But really I am fascinated, inspired by, and concerned for all of nature. As for the characters I have painted, they are just dirty dead sailors.
Derek paints his dirty seamen (har har!) on heavyweight hot-press paper, which he then ages using common household items like “coffee, tea, whiskey, tobacco and tears.” All jokes apart, his paintings are quite lovely, and have a quaint, old-worldly charm about them.
Here are a few select paintings from his portfolio.