By Frank Stickney and photos by Stephen Savage
In Their Own Words is a special section in Portico Eastern Shore Magazine that highlights profiles of local residents. Every season, we get to know some of the people that contribute to our beautiful and unique community, and we tell their stories here.
Here, we are featuring Dirk McCall, artist and Eastern Shore Stand Up Paddleboard Builder.
“I studied painting at the Art Institute in San Francisco. My great grandfather was an artist that everyone in the family revered, and I think that made it seem possible for me to become an artist.
I was in the Navy and lived in Europe. Usually in Europe when you say you are a painter, they’ll ask what style, whether you’re a figurative painter or abstract or whatever. In the United States, they will say things like “do you make a living at it?” or “do you use oils or watercolors?” And I think that aligns with philosophical differences in how each culture appreciates art. People in Europe grow up with art in their homes; in the U.S. people who have more money might have art in their homes, but not everyone. I sell more of my boards in Europe than i do here.
I came to board building because it’s handiwork. I used to be a residential painter, but I also had been an industrial painter, so I knew how to do fiberglass wall coverings. The thing I like about doing art on my boards is that there are no rules—I can do abstract designs, textures or graphics. I don’t like to make classic surfboard lines because that’s already been done. I like to say my boards are “art that you can surf.” It’s not that serious.”