Posts Tagged ‘Broken Bow’


March 16, 2020
Outdoor Fireplace at the Cabin

But the next day you know it’s no use; you know that if you went home there would be nothing there, just the empty land and a lot of old people, going no-place and dying off. And you’ve got to forget about that too.

N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn

As I was finishing House Made of Dawn, I recorded the above statement in my journal because of the way it arrested my thinking. Home. Since retirement in 2017, I have mostly lived the life of a drifter, frequently choosing not to remain in my house where I live alone. The travel, the friends, the adventures and the new stories have all combined to fuel my imagination and my art. And I would not have traded those experiences for anything. I have been fortunate in living the dream.

Currently we all live in a world that has completely morphed beyond recognition. I was not at home when the virus scare finally captured the national attention. And it happened that three of the people among whom I love most had included me in their plans to get away for a few days, renting a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. So, here we are, away from the cities and neighborhoods, with no appointments or sense of clock time, enjoying a large fire we’ve built in an outdoor fireplace, and sharing meals, stories and all-around good moments.

Relaxing Dinner with Friends

I packed my art supplies for plein air work while away at this cabin, but the weather is cold and very wet, with rains filling up most of the days and nights. Outdoors it is comparatively dark, so I laid aside the art supplies and balanced my quality time between books and fly fishing.

Evening Hole at Beaver’s Bend State Park, Broken Bow, Oklahoma
Nice Rainbow taken with a Dry Fly

The weather is windy, cold, wet and frigid for fishing, but that tends to keep the crowds down. My favorite spot (Evening Hole) is a pretty good trek upstream from where I am able to park, but the area was thinly enough populated that I found plenty of room (more than thirty feet of distance from other fly fisherman) for open waters. After landing one pretty rainbow, I was bone-chilled and ready to leave the frigid stream for the cabin, friends and fireplace. I will say though that few things (to me) are more delightful to witness than a nice rainbow rising to snatch your dry fly from the surface of a moving stream. That image is what has remained with me during this stay.

Thanks for reading, and thank you Sandi, Ron and Dian for another lovely memorable time together, away from the city life.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself 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.

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.

Finally finished the fly fishing details, February 23, 2010

February 23, 2010

fly fishing Beavers Bend

I got so excited that I blogged about this without a picture (I was at school and without the proper technology).  I don’t know how well this is going to show up, but I was inspired this morning while looking through a catalogue of a show I saw a few years ago featuring Winslow Homer’s watercolors, titled: “Winslow Homer: Artist and Angler.”  He frequently painted those very subtle ringlets of water disturbance where a trout just rose.  I decided to insert several of those in the deep pool at the left, and then put the shadows of the trout beneath the ringlets.  I’ve always been excited to watch this while fly fishing in Colorado, and finally got around to attempting to depict it in watercolor.

Fly Fishing Completed, February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010

Beavers Bend Fly Fishing

I think I’ve done all I can with this one.  I only spent a few days on it from start to finish.  Pretty rough trying to pour watercolor over a 9 x 12″ surface.  Difficulty also with the drying process.  I used a watercolor block, and the paper took forever to dry out.  I think I worked rather impatiently.  Lost my contrasts and ended up with a rather dark, uniform low-contrast picture.  Nevertheless I learned some things, and am anxious to pursue another fly fishing composition, hopefully sooner instead of later.  Today wasn’t the best of days to try to paint.  I had high school classes all day and a college class at night.  Very little time to paint, and once I did, I was pretty fatigued.  At any rate, I’m glad I did another watercolor, and feel that I am building some momentum.  I hate long dry spells of not painting.

Second day on the fly fishing watercolor, February 21, 2010

February 21, 2010

Fly Fishing Beaver's Bend, Broken Bow, Oklahoma

I got to put in a little bit of time in the studio this afternoon, and late tonight.  This composition is from a photograph my wife took of me, wading some swift waters at Beavers Bend State Park near Broken Bow, Oklahoma.  Right after she took the photograph, I hooked a handsome rainbow trout.  Too bad we didn’t get a shot of that!  At any rate, I’m interested now in pursuing some fly fishing watercolors, and have quite a few photos of myself in the act, thanks to my wife’s patience and dedication with the camera!

I haven’t yet started on the bank, that will include plenty of fallen timber and rocks.  I also need to put some much deeper, dark colors in some of the woods, and find a way to make the fall colors stand out in bolder relief.  I still haven’t figured out how to separate the deep pools from the comparatively shallow runs in the stream, and also have to solve the problem of rocks appearing below the surface.  All in good time.  Too bad I have to get up at 5:00 and teach some morning classes at the high school, followed by an afternoon class at the college.  Perhaps I’ll return to this tomorrow evening (I hope!).

Thanks for reading.