History of A Multimedia Visionary & Artist

My mother gave me my first watercolor lesson when we lived in Bermuda. I was 11 years old. I went with her to paint on location about 3 or 4 times. My next painting lesson was from the mother of a close friend who was with us one day on a remote beach on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I was exposed to a wide range of the arts as my mother was a patron and hired people like Walter Anderson to do murals at the hotel in Ocean Springs, MS where I was raised. There were also musical groups and musicians who would perform nightly at the hotel lounge.

I did not paint again until my Junior year in college, when I switched my Major (for the 5th time) to fine arts. Up until that point my grades were terrible as I had little interest in the other subject matters. As soon as I began the art courses my grades picked up as did my attendance and I felt like I had found my niche. However, trying to make a living as an artist was beyond me at the time. After graduating, I received an offer to work for a chain of hotels (Jack Tar) and after graduation I worked in a number of locations in different capacities for this chain. At night, after work, I would paint until the wee hours of the morning. The more I painted, the more I realized I was unhappy in my current occupation even though the salary and work were good. So after a year or so, I resigned as assistant manager for a hotel in Biloxi, MS and left for California to develop my painting career. I first lived in Los Angeles and tried to break into the gallery scene there with no luck. I then moved to Sausalito and rented a half-sunken house boat as it was all I could afford. When I ran out of money, I worked as a dishwasher at Juanita’s Gallery at gate 5 in Sausalito. After painting rather intensively for a year I decided it would be best if I went to a good art school in the San Francisco Bay Area and selected the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland as my school. I spent two years there earning my Masters degree (MFA) and during that time expanded into sculpture and 3 dimensional paintings, specifically fiberglass wall reliefs.


I invented the Waterphone in the late 60s and hold patent no. 3896696 for it. So far, I have made over 1000 waterphones. The hand held models I have made are: Small, Standard, Wide Range Flat Bottom (WRFB), Ultra light and a Bass Waterphone with a bowl top. All of these have been discontinued as the 3 current models; Whaler, Bass, and MegaBass are superior in sound, materials and construction. The RSGs - "Revolving Sound Generators” which are the very large versions of the waterphone sometimes on a pivot stand and sometimes suspended have also changed form and are made from the same flat pans as the MegaBass. The RSGs have an additional series of very long tonal rods coming off the bottom. Larger diameter waterphones have more of everything especially low end. All hand held waterphone make good hand water drums and can be taken into the water and played by utilizing the "hand bowing" technique. This hand bowing method is used for calling whales and other cetaceans. The hand held models are also excellent for playing with the superball mallets in the friction mode by dragging a superball mallet across the bottom pan.

I perform on my instruments including the waterphone and can give presentations utilizing my musical inventions, sound devices, and sonic sculptures. I also do commissions for special projects either of your design or mine or a combination. I work in wood, metals, bamboo as well as fine arts.

More About the Waterphone

Live Performance on waterphone by Richard Waters

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