Posts Tagged ‘fishing tackle’

Back to the Day Job, But Still Composting the Painting

February 14, 2013
Fishing Memories

Fishing Memories

I am still too sick to feel effective as a teacher today, though my students are treating me with respect and deference, and doing their tasks.  I am just hanging on, trying to shake the lingering effects of strep throat and a nasty sinus infection.  It has sucked all the energy out of me.  Nevertheless, I want to attach a piece of fiction to this painting.  The scenario has been moving about in my head for a couple of weeks now, so I thought I would try to put it out there in print.

The quiet neighborhood was shattered by the sharp crack of three crushing blows from the ball-peen hammer that broke open the padlock on the old fisherman’s shed door.  Day-before-yesterday, they found him dead, seated upright in his favorite back-porch metal lawn chair, with a cold cup of coffee and his tattered copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass on the side table.  Beneath the layers of his faded beard, they thought they could detect a slight smile.  His book was opened to “Song of Myself” and he had underlined in pencil: “I am large; I contain multitudes.”  The onlooking friends mused about his eight decades and all that his life had encompassed.

Entering the dim interior of the fishing shack, they looked silently at the tangled pile of gear in the corner, and hesitated to gather it up, as though rudely disrupting the sanctity of a shrine.  There lay the Garcia Mitchell 300 open-faced reel, with which he had landed his 6-lb. largemouth bass while poking about the lily pads in a rowboat one evening on Hunnewell Lake.  He was only a teenager then.  The bait caster was still there–the one he never could seem to get the hang of, trying in vain to cast old wooden bass plugs without backlash.  His Uncle Art would just look on, shake his head, smile, and mumble through the smoke of his Lucky Strike:  “Cute Kid.”  The Pflueger fly reel and vintage bamboo rod were a gift from an aged farrier in Pine, Colorado, who passed them on as a torch, noting that his fly fishing days were behind him.  The battered suitcase was from college days back in ’42, when he hopped the Frisco passenger train for his monthly cross-the-state visits to his parents back home.  And on that train, he was always served Dining Car Coffee.  And the old knapsack–he never tired of bragging on the day he talked an Athenian merchant out of that tattered leather bag for $12.  On that day, he owned the world.  

The friends stood there silently, their eyes surveying the stack of assorted memories, each item with its own story, clinging to its own fragment of history.  

And now it was time to take down the monument and move on.  New chapters were waiting to be written.

Thanks for reading.

Continued Work on a Still Life of Fishing Equipment

February 1, 2013
Friday Afternoon Segment of the Fishing Still Life

Friday Afternoon Segment of the Fishing Still Life

While listening to a Robert Motherwell DVD documentary, I spent Friday afternoon in the Cave tinkering with this fishing-equipment still life I began last night.  I spent most of the time trying to establish the dark shadow areas, and laying in the bright red accents on some of the detailed objects (and there are many–fishing lures, coffee can. Lucky Strike cigarette package, lettering on the feed company sign).  I am now up-to-my-elbows with it, and starting to feel the fatigue of too-little sleep from last night and a heavy teaching load today.  So I think I will lay it aside before I start making lazy short-cuts (which I do when I’m tired).  I will either return to it tonight or tomorrow, but I shall return.  I’m getting attached to this one early.

Thanks for reading.

Inspiration Doesn’t Keep Appointments

January 31, 2013
Late night in the Studio

Late night in the Studio

The problem of inspiration is simply to be fully alive at a given moment when working.

Robert Motherwell

I have spent most of this afternoon and parts of the evening, drawing, measuring, re-drawing, revising, second-guessing, and enjoying little-to-none of it.  Now, 10:00 p.m. has struck, and I’m interested.  I have to rise at 6:00 in the morning, but a part of me is saying “Hey, it’s Friday, no one will take school very seriously anyway, just stay up late and enjoy the painting while you can!”  No doubt I feel this way BECAUSE I have responsibilities pending.  If tomorrow was free, I would probably be wasting my time at something else instead of feeling the compulsion to paint.  I seem to be made that way.  One writer called it “The Dance of Avoidance.”

And so, temperatures are dropping outside, I have put on an extra layer of clothing, and the garage/man cave ambience is quite nice again.  I am starting this painting by blocking in the dark shadows, trying to build the contrast early.  I’m also looking again at a myriad of Andrew Wyeth drybrush paintings the same size as this 28 x 22″ composition, and noting how large his dark areas are, in contrast to mine.

I’m enthusiastic about the potential of this one, and fascinated with the multitude of details it offers.

Thanks for reading.

A Late Night in the Studio, as Temperatures Continue to Drop

January 30, 2013

Late Night in the Man Cave

It flies in the face of sound judgment, but at 11:00 tonight I decided to put on a pot of coffee, while temperatures outdoors slid down to 35 degrees.  I finished my school responsibilities about fifteen minutes ago, and I really do not wish to retire to bed with this 28 x 22″ watercolor sheet lying blank on my drafting table, it just seems so wrong.

So . . . with my second cup of coffee half-drained, and Andrew Wyeth’s voice coming over the TV (listening to “The Real World of Andrew Wyeth”), I gaze at this composition, and wonder how to begin drawing it, and how exactly to block in the deep shadows.  Unlike my last large still life, I want this one to be a darkened composition, in hopes that I can find my way toward the Andrew Wyeth-style dim interiors that I love so much, and so far have not been able to accomplish.

Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.

A Lingering Peek Inside the Fisherman’s Shack

January 30, 2013
Assembling a Still Life for the Next Watercolor

Assembling a Still Life for the Next Watercolor

Most men talk a good game of a-man’s-got-to-do-what-a-man’s-got-to-do, but when they get a little bit lonely they get clingy and pitiful. . . . We are not on this earth for long.  Part of what a midlife crisis is about is figuring out what gives you pleasure and doing more of that in the time you have left without asking for permission or a financial or emotional subsidy from anyone else.

Howell Raines, Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis

I find it astonishing that my winter watercolor explorations have taken me completely out of the loop of fly fishing.  In Texas, rainbow trout are stocked in area waters throughout the winter months, and this season I have gone out with my fly rod only once.  And yet, I find myself in the man cave, making these repeated attempts to watercolor flies, vintage lures, assorted rods & reels, and various other pieces of fishing equipment.  Friends have been very encouraging with these recent sketches, so I figured I was ready to launch a full-size watercolor of this subject.  I have always believed in my heart that nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, and I have yet to be disappointed when I respond to such a powerful impetus to go after a particular composition.

I couldn’t wait to get started on this project after school.  I traveled to north Fort Worth to borrow an assortment of vintage fishing reels from a criminal defense lawyer.  I was referred by a friend, and having never met the man before, my heart was instantly warmed when he offered me a fresh cup of coffee and congenial conversation, despite his demanding work on an upcoming trial.  I wish I could have stayed longer, but he had his work ahead of him, and frankly, so did I.  He is a passionate fly fisherman, and I genuinely hope for an opportunity to go out on the waters with him someday.  Meanwhile, I am grateful for his willingness to lend me these vintage pieces for assembling this new composition.

After a late lunch of fried potatoes, sausage and eggs, I got busy gathering my materials for the still life, and scrutinizing doors for a potential backdrop.  Five hours later (with a few interruptions) I still find myself tinkering with the positioning of these objects, and lighting the area.  Dragging the doors all over the man cave was an exhausting endeavor, and I cannot believe how many times I have changed my mind, moving objects around, exchanging some for others, etc.  Hemingway once said: “When the stuff comes alive and gets crazy on you, a writer better have a good set of legs, a strong counter-punch, and be ready to fight like hell.”  Arranging these objects has reminded me of countless times when I have labored over some kind of written composition, and the paragraphs had their way of lifting off the page and drifting around from one seam to the next.  I often despaired over finding the correct “combination.”

If I can make up my mind that I have this composition set and ready, I will begin drawing tonight.  The only thing that still hovers about annoyingly are the grades due for progress reports at midnight tonight.  I still have papers to grade and grades to post online.  Damn.

At any rate, I wanted to give any interested readers a “sneak preview” of what I want to go after next.  I would like to tackle a 28 x 22″ watercolor of this subject (or one similar–the objects are still getting up and walking around when I leave the cave to do some other chore).

Thanks for reading.