Archive for the ‘Oklahoma’ Category

Painting into the Holiday

November 23, 2015

imageI am not interested in art as a means of making a living, but I am interested in art as a means of living a life.  It is the most important of all studies, and all studies are tributary to it.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

After nearly two weaks of a nasty sinus infection and demanding school schedule, I am delighted to emerge intact, and most grateful for this opportunity to pick up the brush again!  When I feel sick to the point that I cannot use my eyes, life is so bleak, and the past two weeks without art and reading were dismal.

On a recent road trip, I experienced a moment described about our famous painter Edward Hopper–it was often said that he would pass by a subject worthy of painting, and, a few miles later, would turn his car around and go back to the location, so powerful was the lingering mental image of the subject. This happened to me.  An abandoned tire shop alongside a quiet highway arrested my attention, and I drove a good five miles before turning around to get back to it and take some pictures–I felt that the structure just bristled with stories. Photographing it from a multiple of angles, and so grateful for the bright sunlight, strong shadows, and cold bracing weather, I determined that I would begin studies of this as soon as I felt sound in mind and body again.

The holidays are approaching, and I decided not to wait until Thanksgiving to get out the watercolor supplies.  This is a small study–approximately 8 x 10″ in size, but I kicked it out in half a day today and am itching to begin another.  It feels splendid to be sketching again.  I have worked exclusively in Texas coastal subjects since my artist-in-residency last summer.  I’m glad to return to this nostalgic strain once again–it’s been awhile.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Second Morning In the Stream

January 20, 2014
A Second Handsome Rainbow Trout

A Second Handsome Rainbow Trout

I have returned to my home and studio, tired, but fulfilled from the past two days’ excursion.  I entered the Lower Mountain Fork River a second time yesterday morning, having awakened around 7:15, rested and refreshed and ready.  It was 35 degrees, and with the added layers of clothing, I still remained uncomfortably cold, yet stayed in the stream much longer.  After fishing for about 30 minutes with no luck, I pulled in my line and found that I had lost my nymph!  Talk about disgusted, fishing with an empty line for that long.  Embarrassed, stupid–I could not find enough words to describe myself, freezing and wasting my time.  I tied on a #20 Ruby Midge and drifted for another thirty minutes with nothing.  I decided I had given it long enough, I was cold, and ready to call it a day, grateful at least for what had happened yesterday.  I began reeling in the line, absent-mindedly.  By the time half of the line was on myspool, a large rainbow struck, surprising me.  I held him for about 15 seconds, and then he broke off.  I got a good look at him–comparable to the large one I had pulled in yesterday.

Well, I couldn’t stop then!  I tied on a #20 Olive Midge and went back at it again.  Thirty more minutes passed, then I tied into the nice rainbow photographed above.   This one took quite a while to get into the net, but I managed, and this time measured (I was too excited and thrilled to remember to measure the one from yesterday).  This one measured 18″ and was very fat, like the one from yesterday.  Another freezing thirty minutes went by, and a 12″ rainbow got on.  Of course, it took very little to get him into the net, and I didn’t bother photogaphing.  My hands were raw from the cold and wet.  I don’t think he minded not getting his picture taken.  Another thirty minutes.  Then my strike indicator suddenly vanished, and I felt a monster on the other end.  This one I worked a long, long time, clearly bigger and heavier than the others.  I got a good look at him.  Huge.  I never got him near the net.  He broke off.  I just took a deep breath.  At least I got to see what was on the other end, a very handsome rainbow.  Thirty minutes later, nothing, and then I knew I had to get out of the stream.  I never did get comfortable with the temperatures.  And I’m glad I had something to show for the time spent.  I finally took a picture of the guy on the other bank who stalked me the entire time I was there.  No kidding.  As I moved upstream, he always took the same number of steps, always staying opposite me.  There were more than a dozen other fly fishermen all up and down the stream.  They all laughed, wondering the same as I, why I was the one the bird decided to accompany.  He did bring luck.

My Fishing Companion (or Competitor?)

My Fishing Companion (or Competitor?)

Thanks for reading.

Extreme Contrasts in the Artful Life

January 18, 2014
Bringing in a Large Rainbow Trout

Bringing in a Large Rainbow Trout

Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. 

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

A Quick Photo Before Releasing Him

A Quick Photo Before Releasing Him

The contrast of the past twenty-four hours could hardly be sharper.  Last night found me in the Jazz-infused din of the Dallas Museum of Art, dressed in evening attire and enjoying the strolling crowds.  Today found me three-and-a-half hours away in an Oklahoma trout stream, wearing (more comfortable) fly-fishing regalia, and standing beneath the shadow of a massive rock, looking into the recesses of dark waters and rising trout.  With this being a three-day weekend, I decided I needed a little time away.

Though the thermometer registered 61 degrees, the stream lay in the shadows of a deep gorge, and freezing winds shrieked down the corridor.  It didn’t take long to hook a small 8″ rainbow trout, and it was exciting to see him shatter the surface of the stream to take down a dry fly.  As my hands got colder, and I wondered about the wisdom of standing in such a frigid environ, my dry fly suddenly disappeared, and when I hauled back, I thought the rod was going to be torn from my hands.  The ensuing sound of the rolling surface was not the splish-splash of a small, feisty trout, but the fat body of large rainbow rolling the surface.  I heard gasps up and down the river, and was shocked to realize that surrounding fly fisherman “heard” that as well, and all stopped fishing to watch.

What followed was an aerial show as this huge creature did everything he knew to throw the barbless hook, and frankly, I still don’t know how I managed to hold him.  By the time he was in the net, I was shocked to see that the hook was straightened out to the shape of an “L”.  He was magnificent to hold as I rocked him in the stream after the photo, slowly feeling his strength return, and watching him swim out of my hands and back into the current and away.

Rocking Him Back to Full Strength

Rocking Him Back to Full Strength

By that time, my hands were freezing from keeping them in the water so long.  I could not see the day getting any better than that.  So I left in search of a warm place to land once again.

Thanks for reading.

Conoco Remnants in Oklahoma

December 28, 2013
Sign Encountered During Oklahoma Odyssey

Sign Encountered During Oklahoma Odyssey

I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove, and am still on their trail.  Many are the travellers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks and what calls they answered to.  I have met one or two who had heard the hound, and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud, and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Each [Presocratic fragment] is a truncated monument of thinking.  Like the torso of a river god or the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, each fragment conveys a sense of loss, of tragic withdrawal and absence; yet each is a remnant of an exhilarating presence.

David Farrell Krell, Martin Heidegger: Early Greek Thinking

Remnants of an Oklahoma Conoco Station

Remnants of an Oklahoma Conoco Station

A couple of months ago, while retreating to southeastern Oklahoma for some fly fishing and relaxation, my heart felt heaviness at the sight of this solitary Conoco sign standing alongside Highway 37 about ten miles north of Clarksville, Texas, just south of the Oklahoma border.  I parked the Jeep, took over a dozen photographs, and walked among the weeds that covered what used to be the foundations of a gas station.  As I surveyed what was left of the parking lot entrance, I couldn’t help wondering if there were still children or grandchildren of this station’s proprietor still living nearby.  What would they think every time they drove past this site and remembered what it was like to see a gas station open for business, servicing passing motorists?  As I walked about this location, musing, I thought of the statements of Thoreau and Krell, and how it feels when we are confronted with significant loss.   I was on the brink of a lovely weekend of fly fishing and painting at Beaver’s Bend State Park, but the recollection of this Conoco sign would never leave me.

Conoco Recollections

Conoco Recollections

Over the Christmas holiday, I spent about a day working up this watercolor sketch from the photos I took.  It is 8 x 10″ and I tried to detail the damage on the sign’s surface as best I could.  Recently I have enjoyed working on gas station relics in watercolor.  The holiday visit with my parents was full of wonderful conversation, fattening foods, and plenty of space to work in watercolor.  I’ve had a most delightful Christmas break.

Fly Fishing at Beaver's Bend State Park, Oklahoma

Fly Fishing at Beaver’s Bend State Park, Oklahoma

Here is the painting I completed following my Beaver’s Bend fly fishing weekend.  I also enjoyed revisiting memories of this Evening Hole located in the Red Zone inside the Park.

Rainbow Trout in the Net at Beaver's Bend State Park

Rainbow Trout in the Net at Beaver’s Bend State Park

Don’t despair!  I released this beautiful rainbow trout after photographing him in my net.  He was one of several I managed to get in the net that afternoon.  All were given back their freedom.

Ah, the Friday Night Blog . . .

November 22, 2013
Entrance to Edom Festival of the Arts

Entrance to Edom Festival of the Arts

Art is not to be taught in academies.  It is what one looks at, not what one listens to, that makes the artist.  The real schools should be the streets.

Oscar Wilde

I immediately acknowledge the legitimacy of Oscar Wilde’s perspective.  It is too late for me to put his theory into practice, as I earned my Bachelor’s in Art in 1976.  Since that year, I have held down several professions, and did not get back into the visual art world until the last couple of decades.  When asked whether or not I am “self-taught”, I hedge a bit.  I do have a four-year degree in the subject, have studied the masters seriously since that day, still immerse myself in art history, yet my search for a watercolor “style” is indeed my own private quest.  Following Walt Whitman, “you shall listen to all sides and filter them through yourself.”  I don’t want to label myself as “self-taught” as I have formally studied art at the university and received a degree.  Yet, I feel that I have arrived at my “signature” by my own choices.

I apologize at the outset of this blog, inviting any reader to stop at any time s/he feels so inclined.  I haven’t posted in many, many days, and have so much on my mind, that I am deciding in advance to talk about as much of it as I have the energy to do.

The promised cold front has arrived.  Temperatures have dropped to 34 degrees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and we’re covered in rain.  The coffee is hot and inviting, and I am trying to finish this second of a series of three 8 x 10″ watercolor sketches of the Edom, Texas business district.  I will travel there to The Shed Cafe one week from tomorrow, November 30, and spend the day as their resident artist for Art Jam.  I am struggling with this composition, having difficulty unifying the composition.  This could be a painting that I “lose”, but that happens in this enterprise, and I am not as uptight about losing a painting as I was a few years ago.   We’ll see how it shakes loose.  I still have some plans (tricks?) to apply to it.

Changing the subject–several days back, I came home from school, sat down to a late lunch, and turned on the DirecTV to scan movie channels, settling in on “Rain Man.”  I hadn’t watched the movie in well over a decade, and decided to watch what was in progress for as long as lunch lasted.  I was jolted by a shock of recognition as I watched the scene of the two actors in the phone booth, with the autistic Raymond agitating his brother who was trying to conduct business over the phone, reminding him that Judge Wapner was coming on in just a few minutes.  Suddenly he warned: “Uh-Oh, fart.”  I didn’t laugh this time, because I was staring at what stood behind the phone booth and parked car:

Scene from the Motion  Picture "Rain Man"

Scene from the Motion
Picture “Rain Man”

I had been there!  Cogar, Oklahoma!  Friends had taken me across the state years ago, to reminisce over a town where one of them had grown up.  We spotted this abandoned gas station, got out of the car and photographed it from a multitude of angles, thinking it was “Hopperesque” and perfect for one of my watercolor attempts:

Abandoned Gas Station in Cogar, Oklahoma

Abandoned Gas Station in Cogar, Oklahoma, 2006

I have painted this station in watercolor a total of three times since 2006:

"One Last Road Trip"

“One Last Road Trip” 2006

"Oklahoma Reflections (After Proust)"

“Oklahoma Reflections (After Proust)”

What a shock to go online and verify that this scene from “Rain Man” was shot in Cogar, Oklahoma.  And now, I have painted it three times.  The bottom painting sold back in 2007, the other two are still in my possession.  Now I am not sure if I wish to sell them!  I am filled with excitement, just seeing this scene play out in a Hollywood film, knowing that I visited that location unknowingly, several years after the film had been made, found the setting inviting, and painted it three times.

The past week-and-a-half in the classroom has had its rewards, almost daily.  Today one of my model high school students approached me at the door of my philosophy class at the beginning of school, and asked if I could count her absent.  She explained that she had called in her absence that morning because her mother was in the hospital, preparing to give birth.  “But I couldn’t miss today’s Nietzsche lecture!  I’ll go back to the hospital after this class.”  I told her that she modeled a genuine love of learning.  To say the least, I don’t know when I’ve felt better delivering a lecture, with that kind of anticipation expressed in advance.  And then, if that were not enough, I was asked to visit the UIL Ready Writing team over the lunch hour to give them a “crash course” on Western philosophy.  Talking to eager students for the duration of a lunch period about Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche and Sartre was a genuine feast for me, and the students’ responses made me feel that what I did today mattered.  We never get too much of that in the public education milieu.  Those two experiences today will carry me much, much further, emotionally and spiritually, than documenting emails, phone calls and correspondence to parents or filing documents of lesson plans or meeting minutes for someone sitting in an office somewhere to check off a list.

Since my last blog entry, I have made two visits to the Dallas Museum of Art to study the Edward Hopper Drawing exhibit.  I’m still rocked by what I’ve seen there, his sketches, compositional studies and finished watercolors and oils.  I don’t recall ever seeing a museum exhibit that so studiously curated works of art in their planning stages from plein air sketches to journaled, notated compositional studies to the final framed piece.  Hopper was so studious in his work, and makes me want to do the same.  Perhaps future blog entries will reveal a new side of me, thanks to my heroic Hopper.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Rolling a Rock up the Hill?

October 24, 2013
Fly Fishing at Beavers Bend

Fly Fishing at Beavers Bend

I am rolling a rock uphill, Zola!  And either I keep on rolling it forever or I let it roll back on me and crush me.  But the thing that keeps me going is the hope, the belief that one day I will pick up the boulder with my hands and hurl it to the stars.

Paul Cezanne

I regret the lengthy hiatus between my recent posts.  There have been too many details recently chewing out large chunks of my weekdays and weekends.  It has been difficult even to find time for quality sleep.  High school and university classes, studio time and weekend art festivals are all demanding attention.  I am never caught up.

Recently I have been re-watching The Impressionists, a BBC presentation that always fills me with inspiration. We are using the film in my Advanced Placement Art History class as a springboard for studying and writing about nineteenth-century French painting.   In a moving moment, the troubled Paul Cezanne pours out his heart to friend and novelist Emile Zola that he feels he is Sisyphus condemned to rolling a rock up the hill, only to have it return to earth, crushing him beneath its oppression.  I am moved by that sentiment, though I don’t regard my life as hopelessly chained to a task, long on toil and short on reward.  Rather, I acknowledge myself as one who pursues (perhaps?) too many interests.  I love scholarship, teaching, studying art, making art, and the business of marketing my art.  But I’m aware that people my age are expected to be settled, having found their place in the world.  I don’t feel that I have yet found that–I’m still chasing ideas, still filled with enthusiasm and aware that time is running out for me.  Granted I earned my graduate degrees nearly thirty years ago, and discovered my talent for painting even before that.  And I have been standing in front of classrooms for a quarter of a century.  Nevertheless, life is new daily, ideas are always emerging, and I find myself still searching, chasing, wondering.  And the search, particularly now, can wear me down physically.  I’m just grateful at this moment that I am not worn down emotionally.  I still like what I do–I just wish I possessed more energy to do it, and wish that time wasn’t so short.

As I watch the film and read of the historical accounts, I find myself wishing that I could have my own Cafe Gerbois as the French Impressionists did.  What I would give for my own think tank, a forum with kindred spirits, gathered for the daily or weekly task of sorting things out.  That is the one element missing from my life right now–decompression time, quiet time.  Descartes had his stove, Hume had his cottage and Thoreau had his Walden.  I have lacked the time recently to enter that sacred space, that sanctuary, and be still.  At this moment, I would give anything for my quiet alone time, or for time in a cafe with others engaged in the Search.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Painting on a Sunday Afternoon, While Dreaming of Fly Fishing

September 23, 2013
Nearly Completed Watercolor

Nearly Completed Watercolor

This is a lesson that Henry Beston set down more than sixty years ago in a book called The Outermost House.  “For the animals shall not be measured by man,” he wrote.  “They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”

To embrace this knowledge in one’s inmost heart is to depart from the Redneck Way and to know, as Dick Blalock says, that “fishing is not about food.”  It is a way of interrupting the invisibility of these shining creatures and existing for a moment with them in their wildness and transience, their indifference to our approval and their dependence on our restraint if they are to add another hour to their ten thousandth year.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis

Though it has been two weeks, my heart still goes back to Beavers Bend, Oklahoma.  It was two weeks ago that I finally “solved” the trout problem that had plagued me for over ten years’ worth of visits to that beautiful place.  I just could not catch trout of any significance.  I have been a passionate fly fisherman for over ten years, and have known the thrill of raising trout in Colorado, Arkansas and even in Texas winters, but never in Oklahoma.  Finally, two weeks ago, I managed to catch four beautiful rainbows.

The setting that I have worked on in this watercolor is the exact spot where I connected with the trout.  When I finished and left the stream, I took out my camera and managed several photographs of other fly fisherman that had moved into the vicinity.  They were welcome company because they were quiet, serene, and respectful of the rules in that restricted zone.  It is a barbless hook zone, though unfortunately not enforced.  If one fishes below the spillway, s/he could be checked three or four times daily by game wardens, as I have.  But never here in the restricted areas where it should matter most.  There was a sour moment when several Philistines moved into these waters with their treble hooks, live bait, beer and obnoxious noise and splashing about.  They had no luck, and fortunately for all of us, moved on, and quiet once more descended on this lovely evening sanctuary.  I released all my trout, as did the fly fishermen around me, and when I left, I left satisfied and fulfilled.

This painting of course will never do justice to the lovely setting that was mine for a day, but at least the memories will continue to wash over me as I look upon it.  I still have some decisions to make about the water surface dynamics, and some of the tree areas are still not to my satisfaction.  High school and university exacted a heavy toll from me today.  I didn’t finish my necessary prep work till 11:30 tonight, so alas, I have nothing left in me to paint.  Maybe, hopefully, I can return to this tomorrow, and perhaps finish it.  And then I’ll find a new subject to paint.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Watercoloring on a Cool Autumn Saturday Morning

September 21, 2013
Second Attempt of Beavers Bend watercolor

Second Attempt of Beavers Bend watercolor

Those of you who have never painted a landscape probably don’t know how hard it is to hold together a green landscape; green is a really difficult color to give space to and to structure a landscape.  And therefore, if you paint a landscape that is predominantly green, you are risking failure.

Richard Brettell, “Cezanne and Pissarro in Pontoise” lecture

I knew I was asking for trouble, noticing that my photograph taken at Beavers Bend is predominantly green.  But still, I loved the composition, accompanied by the memories of that enchanting afternoon and evening standing in the Lower Mountain Fork River.  It remains one of my fondest of fly fishing memories.

Reference photo for the painting

Reference photo for the painting

My greatest challenge will be the task of separating the large, dark green mass of trees making up nearly 50 percent of the composition, weighted heavily on the right.  I still haven’t made up my mind exactly what I’m going to do, but I am absorbed with this composition, and am enjoying the delight of exploring every square inch of this picture plane.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Thoughts on Northern Hindu Temples and Cezanne’s Mont Sant-Victoire

September 20, 2013
Ink Sketch of Vishvanatha Temple, Khajuraho, India

Ink Sketch of Vishvanatha Temple, Khajuraho, India

We work in the dark–we do what we can–we give what we have.  our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.  The rest is the madness of art.

Henry James

It’s been quite a week in Lake Wobegon.  I found myself teaching Southeast Asian Art in A. P. Art History at my high school, along with Buddhism in World Religions at the university.  My regular Art History class at the high school focused on Impressionism all week, and today looked at how Paul Cezanne transitioned from Impressionism into a modern style that served as a gateway for twentieth-century art.  All week my head throbbed with a thousand stimuli from all these courses, readings, musings of students–and then today something happened.

I have this amazing pair of twins in my A. P. classes.  They are both artistic, carry moleskine journals (as do I), and continually draw in them as well as record their musings.  They keep legitimate sketchbook/journals in true Leonardo da Vinci fashion, going back and forth frequently between drawing and writing.  One of them told me that it helped her concentrate better on the objects studied in art history.  Today, during a lull in the A. P. class, I opened my book to the Southeast Asian chapter, pulled out my ballpoint pen, and sketched this Hindu Temple that follows the northern style of architecture, with its towers (shikharas) bulging to emulate the Himalayan mountain range.  I experienced what I heard this young twin mention to me a couple of weeks ago–as I drew this structure, I was forced to look at architectural details I had never before noticed.  She was right–drawing something makes you stare at every cubic inch of the form, enabling you to take in details not seen before.  I was amazed to see this range of mountains emerge from the architecture, and especially loved the way the base flanged outward to meet the ground.

As I drew, my mind drifted over to Paul Cezanne and his theories, and his late fixation on Mont Sainte-Victoire.  As I thought of his attempts to contrast warm and cool colors across the face of the mountain he painted at least sixty times, I suddenly recalled the mountain I had begun as an 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch a week ago and abandoned.  Going home during my conference period, I found a 140-lb sheet of D’Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper, soaked it in the shower, and stapled it to an 18 x 20″ stretcher frame to dry.  This evening I have spent, bent over the composition, trying once more to capture the essence of this gorgeous mountain I stood beneath last weekend as the evening descended and the rainbow trout began to rise.  I’m so glad I lingered long enough to take photos of other fly fishermen in the stream beneath this outcropping of rock. I will put them in place later.

Beginning of an 18 x 20" watercolor of Beavers Bend.

Beginning of an 18 x 20″ watercolor of Beavers Bend.

I hate that I had to work on this under artifical light, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of waiting until morning.  I just hope the colors turn out to be O.K. when the natural light hits them in the morning.  I genuinely hope that this weekend will yield quality time to focus on this mountain, as I continue to think about Cezanne, the Hindu worshippers, and that amazing pair of twin artists that have helped me move in a new direction.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Weekend of Needed Restoration

September 15, 2013
An Evening of Fly Fishing at Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow, Oklahoma

An Evening of Fly Fishing at Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow, Oklahoma

A hobby is a defiance of the contemporary.  It is an assertion of those permanent values which the momentary eddies of social evolution have contravened or overlooked.  If this is true, then we may also say that every hobbyist is inherently a radical, and that his tribe is inherently a minority.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Arlington, Texas never looked better to me, as I viewed it from my rearview mirror last Friday afternoon.  The week in school was crushing, and as I looked at my calendar, I saw no relief in sight.  So, I loaded the Jeep and set out for Broken Bow, Oklahoma, a three-and-one-half hour drive, with a mind full of good memories of conversations with eager students, and a heart that lightened with every mile left behind.  I checked into my hotel in Idabel, Oklahoma, road-weary but hopeful for the coming day.

Saturday morning found me in a trout stream in Beavers Bend State Park.  It felt good to wade cold waters on a 65-degree morning (Texas temperatures since July have been the worst kind of hell).  I felt the calm, serene happiness of Nick in Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” even though I could not raise a single trout throughout the morning.  I stopped for lunch and a refresher back at the hotel, watched a little TV (didn’t mind watching Johnny Football take it on the chin–being a schoolteacher, he reminds me of too many privileged students I’d just as soon forget), then re-packed and returned to the stream about 4:30 in the afternoon.

The gorge I chose this time was cut so deep that shadows were already falling across the waters, and the signt of flyfishermen beneath the overlooking cliffs made me wonder whether I wanted to paint or fly fish.  I took pictures, and decided to paint later.  Entering the stream, I tried everything the fly shop recommended–lead sinkers, yellow bobbers, an assortment of nymphs, and nothing worked.  Finally I returned to about the only thing I know how to do:  I tied a size 18 elk-haired caddis on, soaked it in floatant, and then tied 18″ of 5x leader off the hook and attached a size 20 red midge to use as a dropper.  Success.  Four rainbow trout, up to 14″, struck within thirty minutes, and I felt that everything I had wanted to happen on this weekend vacation happened.

14" rainbow trout in the net

14″ rainbow trout in the net

A second rainbow . . .

A second rainbow . . .

. . . a third rainbow . . .

. . . and a fourth rainbow to round out the evening

. . . and a fourth rainbow to round out the evening

They were all beautiful, beyond description, as I raised the net and let the late afternoon sun fall across their forms and beheld a dazzling spectrum of colors.  Trout colors overwhelm my eye.  I released them all, happily.  I love watching trout swim away to their freedom.  Once I caught and released the fourth one, I was exhausted.  I struggled to the bank, sat awhile, took more photographs of the surrounding fly fishermen, then found my way to a rural diner for a late dinner, then back to the hotel.

Today I’m home, rested and grateful for the weekend.  I have attempted an 8 x 10″ watercolor of the lovely place where I landed the trout.  I even tried to put a solitary fly fisherman down below in the shadows, to stress how dimutive we feel when we’re enveloped with the grandeur of this stream.

Fly Fishing Beneath the Gathering Twilight

Fly Fishing Beneath the Gathering Twilight

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.