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MAKING WAVES

Story by Lissa Alexander, Photography by Peter McCully

Lorne and Yvonne Acheson married 14 years ago, but they’ve only recently married their artistic abilities, and the results, you could say, are cranking.

Cranking: A word often used by surfers to refer to great waves.

Lorne was a clothing designer in Vancouver for 14 years before moving to Parksville and devoting his design skills to making surfboards. He started off making T-shirts at a print shop in Tsawwassen (where some of the band members from 54-40 worked). He began designing and selling his shirts to skate and snowboard shops before expanding his sights to include shorts, pants and jackets. He had a successful line of streetwear for men called Fluent and a girl’s streetwear line called Sasta.

Twice a year he and Yvonne would hit the road in their red 4 Runner and travel down south with garment samples and catalogues.  But it all became a bit too stressful, he explains. “They were fun trips but then I thought, do I want to be doing this in five years with a family? No,” he recalls.

TARRED BEGINNINGS

Yvonne and Lorne met in Tsawwassen in ’97 when Yvonne worked at a stationary store in the community. Lorne would come in to buy receipt books, even when he didn’t need them, Yvonne laughs.

The couple loved coming over to the Island and thoroughly enjoyed the ferry ride—in fact they had been known to take the boat back and forth without even getting off. And so, quite fittingly, Lorne proposed on the ferry in 2000.

Yvonne and Lorne with their sons Noah and Jonah
Yvonne and Lorne with their sons Noah and Jonah

In 2007 the couple moved to Parksville and they now have two boys, Noah (eight) and Jonah (four), who, they both agree, constantly keeps them on their toes.

Although she has no formal artistic training, Yvonne has been making a name for herself recently with her stunning, acrylic West Coast art. The first masterpiece she remembers creating was on the outside of her grandpa’s house in Winnipeg when she was three—using tar.

“My parents were horrified,” she recalls with a chuckle, “I was going to get a spanking but my grandpa saved me.”

Although her parents may have been a bit strict, they were also very loving and supportive, Yvonne says, and encouraged her to pursue the piano. She began teaching piano when she was 14 and today she continues to teach students from her home. In order to encourage her piano proteges, Yvonne enjoys drawing elaborate scenes in their notebooks where they get to place a sticker when they practise.

After receiving an easel for Christmas from Lorne in 2012, Yvonne decided to try and make some time for painting. She says it was her students who first encouraged her to sell her work. “They asked if I would sell my paintings and started buying them off our walls,” she laughs.

Although finding time for painting remains a challenge every day, the work Yvonne does complete is attracting positive attention at stores in Bowser, Parksville, Victoria and Tofino. Yvonne’s evocative artwork is dominated by bright, vivid colours and she likes to include clean, black lines throughout her paintings.  Paintings named Storm Brewing Over Cox Bay and Longing—featuring a mermaid gazing out to sea—have long since sold.

SHAPING THE SURF INDUSTRY

Lorne with a couple of his boards
Lorne with a couple of his boards

Lorne started surfing 15 years ago and about eight years ago the couple got an offer they couldn’t refuse. Their friends, owners of Island Longboards Surf Shop in Hilliers (now called Island Surf Co.), were going away for three months and asked them to mind the store. Lorne had recently purchased some equipment to make his first surf board and found the opportunity to put it all together while there. The second board he made was bought by a friend and then he started getting requests.

“I was intrigued in doing different shapes of boards and riding them myself and then friends and other people wanted to try them out and buy them, which I never thought would happen,” he says.

Lorne has now made about 150 surf boards. A couple of years ago Lorne’s father (80 at the time) built him a surfboard shop on the couple’s property in Parksville and that’s where Lorne designs, shapes and glasses all his boards today. But along with being a father, Lorne also works for Orca Airways booking charter flights, so he struggles to keep up with his orders from surf shops.

The most challenging part of creating surf boards is also the most fun, Lorne says, and that’s creating new shapes.  Lorne has a reputation for making innovative board shapes and two years ago he was asked to make five of them for a competition in Tofino called The Weird run by Nixon Watches. The invitational event at Cox Bay featured employees from Coastline, HTO, Sikta, Storm, Longbeach Surfshop, Live to Surf and Surf Sister, who all surfed on Lorne’s boards. He made an asymmetrical board, a mini simmons and even a finless board for the competition.

MARRIAGE OF THE MINDS

Last year Lorne was asked to build a board for a client who wanted a fern graphic on the back. He asked Yvonne if she might like to paint the fern on the board and that’s when the marriage of minds began. Since then the couple has collaborated on three surfboards, four wooden boxes, and one table. And they plan to do much more…when they can find the time. Although it’s not the norm, Yvonne has awoken in the middle of the night with a painting on her brain and worked during the rare, silent hours of the morning. Painting does for Yvonne what shaping boards does for Lorne, reduces stress and anxiety and brings them joy. Yvonne says at the end of the day she hopes her paintings lift people’s spirits and allows them to appreciate all of God’s creation.

DSC_9131
A painting by Yvonne

“A lot of time people just see the creation and they don’t think about who created it. We have so much to be thankful for…we need to remember to thank the One who gave everything to us,” she says.

Look for Yvonne’s artwork at the Salish Sea Market in Bowser, Island Exposures Gallery in Parksville (where prints are being made), HTO in Victoria and Surf Sister in Tofino. Find her on Facebook or visit her website www.yvonneachesonart.ca.

Lorne’s boards can be found at Island Surf Co. in Hilliers, the Long Beach Surf Shop in Tofino and Ucluelet and at HTO in Victoria. Visit his website at www.arksurfboards.com.

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