Archive for the ‘fly fishing’ Category

Eudaimonia in the Studio

September 25, 2022
Tedious work on details at the moment, but I’m loving it

Beneath our loquacious chatter, there is a silent language of our whole being which yearns for art and the beauty from which art comes.

Rollo May, My Quest for Beauty

The quiet Sunday offers a respite from the sustained pace we have had to keep up the last few days. Yesterday we had to leave Palestine by 2:00 in order to make the reception for the Fall Show sponsored by the Lake Granbury Art Association.

Palimpsest

I was thrilled to receive an Award of Excellence and a handsome check for my Palimpsest entry. I don’t compete nearly as often as I used to, and frankly, seldom win when I do compete. In fact, I have not even been juried into competitions recently when I have entered. So, last night was sweet and I’m very thankful for all the good will poured out by the crowd in attendance.

When the reception ended, I walked to the town square and entered the Baron’s Creek Wine Room to see the new show that has been installed, sponsored by The Eyes of Texas Fine Art Gallery.

He is No Longer Here

I was pleased with the overall quality of the show, and appreciate where my full-sized watercolor is hanging. I’m looking forward to the opening of this show as well.

Today is it is back to work in the studio. The large panoramic watercolor I’m working on with the view of Spring Street in downtown Palestine is proving to be long hours of work, but I’m enjoying every brushstroke, and glad to have the time to pursue it.

Thanks for reading.

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Art Without an Audience

August 7, 2022

He Is No Longer Here. Watercolor. 38h x 32w” framed. $800

While convalescing, we have been re-watching Yellowstone on TV. I was arrested by a statement from the aged cowboy actor Leonard Barry Corbin, when he told the young cowboy in training at the 6666 Ranch in north Texas that real cowboyin’ was “art without an audience.”

My imagination wandered over the terrain of my decades of art experiences, and I concluded that probably 90% of my art activity is without an audience. Visual art, for me, is not a performance art; it is hammered out in the quiet of a studio, for the most part in a great calm.

COVID has kept me out of my gallery for two weeks now, and has caused me to miss two recent artist receptions. I’m happy that despite my absence, a large framed still life was sold at the Baron’s Creek Winery in Granbury, Texas. We finally managed to fill that empty gap with a painting of similar size and genre, posted above. The painting that sold was created during winter months in my garage studio, and was followed immediately by the painting above, hence they have been like brothers, hanging around unsold until recently. I’ll be glad when the one above finds a home; after hanging in our Gallery at Redlands for a spell, it has hung in my home Studio Eidolons, until now.

Happy that my strength has returned (aside from long stretches of sleeping!), I’m back in my Studio Eidolons with new projects underway. Stay tuned . . .

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sweet Evening Solitude & Recovery

July 30, 2022
Working Lightly in Studio Eidolons Tonight

Current wisdom, especially that propagated by the various schools of psychoanalysis, assumes that man is a social being who needs the companionship and affection of other human beings from cradle to grave. It is widely believed that interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness. Yet the lives of creative individuals often seem to run counter to this assumption.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

Storr’s book has been like a Bible in my collection for over thirty years now. This was the first book, read when I was in my thirties, that convinced me I was O.K. even though I didn’t have much of a social life. The ministry dripped with a sense of alienation. Graduate school meant long solitary days in a library carrell. Welding-well, how many people stand around to visit with you when you’re under the hood while the arc lights up the room? Public education for nearly three decades saw me scrambling for privacy at the end of each school day. So yes, I have regarded myself, despite having a family whom I love, as largely private.

I don’t recall the last time I was ill; it hadn’t occurred since 2017 when I retired from teaching. And I don’t recall the last time I missed school due to illness. I have lived a life for the most part without need for doctor’s visits or medication. I wasn’t prepared for what happened when I tested positive for COVID yesterday morning. The good news was that Sandi was already in Palestine to run the gallery in my stead, leaving me to attend tonight’s artists’ reception in Granbury. She has since tested negative, so she will be staying out of our house till I am past all this. To repeat–I wasn’t prepared for this enforced isolation. Yesterday and today were among the longest days in my life, here in my home and studio, alone with a pair of small dogs.

This afternoon, while the isolation had reached its bleakest moment, the phone calls started coming in. Three of my paintings sold, two of them major works.

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter. SOLD

The New Owners

I was elated to learn that a student of mine from fifteen years back purchased my large still life at Baron’s Creek Winery in Granbury. I was deeply saddened that I was unable to attend this event.

He Was Here Yesterday SOLD

And then . . . Sandi phoned from our Gallery at Redlands. She had just sold another large watercolor of mine to a local automobile restoration artist. She told me he was fascinated with my collection of gas station compositions and chose the large one from among the pack.

Evening Hole. SOLD

Sandi also sold this mid-size watercolor of me fly-fishing Troublesome Creek in Colorado.

Needless to say, news of the triple sales (and boy, Sandi sold quite a number of other artists’ works the past three days in the gallery!) created somewhat of a soothing balm for my tortured feelings the past pair of days. Though absent in body, I’m glad that my “spirit” somehow lingered in the events where my work was on display. The affirmation helps, believe me.

I believe I will sleep better tonight. I have completed the first day taking dosages of Paxlovid, and already am feeling some physical relief from this dreaded illness. And news of the art sales has certainly provided a strong measure of good will; I feel much less isolated now.

More tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Full Day Given to Fishing

July 11, 2022
Finally landed a brown trout at the end of a weary day

I don’t recall a time when I was more bone-weary than now. Sandi took me to three different places to fly-fish today: Big Meadow, Coller Wildlife Area, and then a return to Riverbend Resort. After a full day of missed strikes and fish not quite making it to the net, I finally landed this handsome brown trout upstream from the tent area at Riverbend Resort. The day was overcast all day with temperatures hovering around 72 degrees. I had planned on watercoloring, but the Colorado landscape colors were muted with the absence of sunlight. I did thoroughly enjoy the fly-fishing, especially on the Rio Grande at Coller Wildlife. I had not been on “big waters” since fishing the Colorado River west of Denver over a decade ago. The water was gorgeous, clear and swift. Though I failed to set the hook on a major strike, I still enjoyed the vista and look forward to returning.

It’s only 9:30, but my eyes are hardly open, so I’m going to have to call this a night. Hopefully I’ll have more to report tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Finally a Nice Brown

July 8, 2022
Finally landed a nice brown trout in the evening

It’s been a long year, waiting for our reservation at Colorado’s Riverbend Resort to come around. Driving across west Texas, the temperatures reached 109 degrees. This morning in Colorado it was 48 degrees, and I was much happier!

My first morning fishing only turned up a pair of brown trout that would fit in the palm of my hand, plus a beauty that I did not manage to land. I went to one of the local fly shops and learned that the water is too warm and the trout are holed up in swift, deeper water. I always use a stimulator for the floater and tie on an extra 18″ of tippet to attach a bead head dropper. The man at the fly shop told me to attach a 36″ tippet. It worked. I managed to catch trout this evening in the deeper holes downstream, but my real surprise was the brown pictured above that took the large dry fly.

Amazed that he hit this stimulator instead of the nymph in deeper water.
A welcome 48 degrees at 6 a.m.

I awoke at 5:00 the first morning in Colorado and enjoyed a lovely walk in 48-degree weather. The sun coming up was gorgeous.

We put sweaters on the pups, but they didn’t much enjoy the cold outdoors . . .
. . . so we went back inside the cabin and built a fire

The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment . . . to put things down without deliberation . . . without worrying about their style . . . without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote, wrote, wrote . . . By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.

Walt Whitman

I am taking a page out of Whitman’s playbook while in Colorado this visit. I brought my 2005 journal of a previous Colorado excursion because while re-reading it, I found the details very crisp and lively, and ready for editing into a better piece of writing.

Beginnings of the morning journal . . .

In 2005, I was studying Latin (regretfully, it was not available for me in graduate school), and I fell away from the language for years. This year I have picked it back up again and decided to work on it every day during this Colorado venture as I did long ago. And while I am writing, I’m going to try and apply the good habits of Whitman and William Carlos Williams in scribbling spontaneously the immediacy of impressions to be fleshed out later.

The night is closing in, and I have yet to open the Latin books today. Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Wilderness on my Mind.

July 5, 2022
The South Fork of the Rio Grande

Poets talk about “spots of time,” but it is really fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

I am posting a photo I took of the spot where we will live for twelve days. South Fork, Colorado has become one of the most precious locations on this planet where I’ve had the privilege of visiting since the year 2000. Over the past weeks, I have gone back and read every single journal entry from all my Colorado visits, and now I am finding the summer of 2005 to contain some of my best writing.

My sincere wish on this trip is to find a quality balance between reading, journaling, watercoloring and fly-fishing.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Anticipation

July 4, 2022

I fish mainly because I love the environs where trout are found: the woods, and further because I happen to dislike the environs where crowds of men are found: large cities . . .

Robert Traver, Trout Madness: Being a Dissertation on the Symptoms and Pathology of this Incurable Disease by One of its Victims

I love the quote above from Robert Traver, a lawyer who once described himself as “an unfrustrated fly-fisherman.” And I echo the sentiment of his contrast between the woods and the city. Preparing for our impending Colorado mountain vacation, I just tossed Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought into my book bag. Heidegger is another of my heroes who preferred his cabin in the Black Forest to the university city of Freiburg where he earned his salary. He did all his best work in the quiet confines of the cabin often referred to as “Heidegger’s Hut.” And I always hope to do some of my best work when I am away at some secluded place.

I was blessed to spend nearly a week recently in my favorite “country store” residence while working on a mural in Crockett, Texas. A quiet place away from the city feeds my soul and allows me to sort out some important areas of my life while reading, scribbling in journals and practicing my watercolor craft. In a few days, I’ll add fly-fishing to those activities when we land in the foothills of the San Juan mountains at an 8200-foot altitude. And already I shudder at the excitement of entering the South Fork of the Rio Grande to listen to the waters and stalk beautiful rainbows and browns.

I’m planning on honing my skills in rendering fly-fishermen, evergreen forests and mountain streams this time when I land in this enchanted place. I took a little time amidst packing this evening for some quick sketches of fly-fishermen, and felt all the excitement returning. I’ve also been re-reading my journal from the summer of 2005, the first time I was guided at some of Colorado’s blue ribbon waters. The memories washed over me like a spring shower. I’m ready to leave behind the 103-degree temperatures of Texas in exchange for some of those forty and fifty degree ones in “Colorful Colorado”.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Sunday Leisure

July 3, 2022

Creative living requires the luxury of time, which we carve out for ourselves.

Julia Cameron

What a delicious morning, waking in my own bed for the first time in about ten days. The past week-and-a-half were divided between Palestine gallery hours and Crockett mural hours with wonderful evenings living in the old country store. But this morning I was grateful to sleep late, make French-press coffee, and then sit up in bed and read and journal for hours. I recently wrote about “executive time” and “sacred space.” That describes my morning. Following Julia Cameron’s sentiment, I found myself happier than usual today in the moment of carving out quality time.

Packing for Colorado, I enjoyed going through all my fly-fishing gear and finding a way to re-pack it from three bags down to one easy carry-on. I have this horrible habit of carrying three times more gear than I’ll actually need. My next step tonight is to do the same with my plein-air art gear. Again, I’ll exercise the art of paring down for an easier load-in.

I’ve posted above the watercolor I cranked out yesterday during Palestine’s monthly Art Walk. Time spent in The Gallery at Redlands all day yielded delicious fruit as I enjoyed tinkering with the watercolor and visiting with patrons and artists that drifted in and out throughout the day. By day’s end, I was surprised to see I had finished the 8 x 10″ fly-fishing composition (a selfie from a photograph taken twenty years ago). I’ve put it in an 11 x 14″ frame and priced it at $200 in The Gallery at Redlands.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been combing back through my journals to re-read and re-live my excursions to Colorado. So far, I have read and re-written drafts from eight of those visits. During these weeks, I’ve wrestled with the re-writes, grateful that I had sketched out the accounts and recorded details that would otherwise have been forgotten. Some of the writing has been sublime, while other times I’ve struggled to recreate the narrative. And then, this morning, I was totally shell-shocked by these words from William Carlos Williams in his Autobiography. He was recording the same difficulties as he confessed the practice of writing about his Paris sojourn, relying on his diaries for details as he re-wrote the accounts years later:

To jump from the diary to memory is an exercise resulting in curious complications. Sometimes there is no meeting of the two elements, a name remains blank to the mind. But sometimes the match of the written word scrapes upon the sandpaper and a light flares.

Wow. What imagination and what an image! I think I am ready to return to the journal and see if I can strike another match.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Fly Fishing Retreat

June 25, 2022
Largemouth Bass Prior to Release

Rising at 5:30 was worth the effort as I prepared to journey north for forty-four minutes to join my new fishing buddy and Queen Street Grille’s chef extraordinaire, Joe Massa. We began rigging up our flyrods around 7:00, and had our lines in the water shortly after. Joe was immediately pulling up all manner of bream, many of them frying pan size. The temperature was 79 degrees and we knew we had only a couple of hours before the Texas heat would drive us away. I only managed to land one of the three bass that hit my assortment of woolly buggers and San Juan worms; one of them got loose as I half-heartedly set the hook, the other broke me off despite my giving him a good thirty seconds to tire out. He was a strong one, and I hope one day to get a closer look at him. The excitement of watching him zig-zag through the waters before breaking free still stirs me hours later.

Tomorrow begins a new adventure. I’ve been invited to participate in a mural project in downtown Crockett, Texas, and I’ve been chomping at the bits for the day to arrive. I’ll have more to share as the task unfolds. Most of all, I’m excited to see that part of the Texas countryside that I’ve been away from far too long.

The Gallery at Redlands is quiet at this point of Saturday evening, and that is a good thing for me; I’m still trying to iron out final details for the Crockett project, and the quiet is soothing.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Rite of Passage

June 1, 2022
Where it all began . . .

The ten-year-old boy stood on the ledge of Rocky Ford, the most talked-about fishing/swimming hole of Indian Creek in rural Jackson, Missouri. With his rod & reel, he tossed an earthworm dug up from his grandparents’ farm and watched it settle in front of the opening beneath a huge slab of rock in the bottom of the pool below. Immediately a perch darted out, seized the prey, and the boy pulled up his first fish. In later years, visiting grandparents, he would return repeatedly to this same spot, dreaming of one day standing there with a fly rod. Nearly sixty years later, it happened.

My buddy since second grade, Wayne White traveled with me yesterday to southeast Missouri. Accepting the offer from my cousin, whose farm backs up to Indian Creek, we drove onto his property, rigged up and descended the steep banks to the stream. For four hours, we hiked, waded, and climbed our way upstream from my cousin’s farm, then to my uncle’s, to Rocky Ford, and I was ecstatic to see that it still looked the same.

Rocky Ford, viewed from where I stood above

The creek looked the same, but the population was different. No sign of largemouth bass, perch, bluegill, sunfish or carp suckers. Only gar, and plenty of them. The result of all our efforts amounted to four gar.

The only one in hand

The first one broke me off

OK, now what I am about to relay sounds like a lying fish story, but it isn’t. Wayne witnessed it independently and will testify that it really happened. The photo he took above was my first gar nearly landed. He broke me off. I was using a white Clouser minnow, and he struck on one of my early casts. Bye-bye.

Four hours later, after wading, climbing and clawing our way upstream we reached Rocky Ford. We had nothing to show for our efforts except one landed gar, another that broke off, and two more that threw the hook (it’s extremely difficult to embed a hook in their long hard beaks). We reached the end of my uncle’s property, noting the barbed wire fence stretched across the creek. Fishing the last hole, I was startled by a huge splash on the opposite bank. An enormous, fat gar swam straight to me, then turned in front of me and hesitated in the water, chomping at something white in his beak. At first I thought it was a minnow, but then I saw the strands of white bucktail fluttering in the current. My white Clouser minnow! The fish had worked its way upstream the same distance as we! I kept my mouth shut, knowing Wayne would never believe me. But the fish then turned back downstream and drifted past him, twenty feet away, and Wayne saw it too. So there it is. No BS. And I’ll never forget the moment.

Thanks for reading.