Posts Tagged ‘fishing’


July 25, 2017

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Our moods do not believe in each other. To-day I am full of thoughts, and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought, the same power of expression, to-morrow. What I write, whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world; but yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages. Alas for this infirm faith, this will not strenuous, this vast ebb of a vast flow! I am God in nature; I am a weed by the wall.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

I still remember how liberated I felt back in 1989, when a professor pointed out Emerson’s sensitivity to the natural ebb and flow of the creative lifestyle. From that day forward, I pursued that theme, reading it in the poetry of Walt Whitman and the interviews of a number of twentieth-century painters. Long ago, while in the ministry, I knew that parishioners were deceiving themselves if they thought they could live in a state of perpetual revival. Mountains require valleys. In my years of teaching, the topic continually came up–how can one sustain a high level of creativity? In my opinion, one cannot. Life moves in circles. We require intake if we are to output. We must inhale in order to exhale. We must rest in order to exert. The ocean ebbs and flows. These rhythms are natural and inevitable.

I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly tried to cheat the natural order. Today on the radio, I listened to discussions of people taking amphetamines in order to sustain creative exploits for up to 72 hours without sleep. I have always been alarmed at that thought. In my years as a graduate student, I recall drinking coffee and swallowing No-Doz tablets in order to stay up an entire night typing a paper to meet a deadline. But I believe I always returned to my bed the following evening. I never thought it possible to sustain beyond that.

As to the rhythm of creative eros and stagnation, I truly believe that physical rest is a factor. So why am I writing this now? Because I’m exhausted–sleep deprived, heat exhausted and travel weary. But . . . my air conditioner at home was finally repaired this afternoon.  So, I sit in this Barnes & Noble Cafe, waiting for the house to cool (it was 91 degrees inside today) so I can get home and experience some quality sleep. Soon I’ll travel to the Colorado Rockies, and I just want to get my physical and spiritual self back on a good track before I begin the new trek.

Above, I have  posted the watercolor that I began yesterday, and completed this morning. It is now in transit to its new home out east, and I’m delighted that the patron is happy with it (glad also to have the job finished before making my next journey).

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when feeling alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


Thoughts Between the Rivers

June 27, 2017


There are two things in painting: the eye and the brain, and they have to help each other; you have to work on their mutual development, but painter-fashion; the eye, for the vision of nature; the brain, for the logic of organized sensations which give the means of expression.
Paul Cezanne

I thought on this day I would be on Day Three of our planned river excursion.  However, a few difficulties ensued, and we decided to abort and begin a modified plan on Thursday. Wayne had some difficulties with the supply boat and its stability in the swifter currents, and I–I had difficulties keeping my kayak upright. We did manage to get in some quality fishing time, however.  But as nightfall drew nearer and the currents more difficult, we decided it safer (for me) and more expedient (for the packing supplies) to call off the odyssey and plan a new one.  On Thursday, we should be joined by Mark, and I’ll trade my kayak for the canoe I rode last summer.  Most likely, we will paddle and fish throughout the day, set up camp for the night, then decide on Day Two if we’ve had enough fun.

wayne fishing

Wayne Fishing Big River

Today I join Wayne and his grandson for some lake fishing (and I’ll stay on the shore this time) and I anticipate a scenario resembling more of a fishing team than Laurel and Hardy.

Yesterday, after drying out my sleeping bag, tent, and tarp, and going to a coin laundry to wash all my river-soaked clothes, I settled back into a watercolor I started two days ago.


I have a large project before me involving trains, and should be posting many more watercolor renderings in the weeks ahead. While working on this one, I kept Cezanne’s ideas in my head, constantly adjusting my eye to my brain. I’m working from a quality photograph, so I should be able to put the necessary details in place.  However, the picture composition leaves much to be desired, and I hope I’ll be able to factor in some quality composition decisions.

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 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.

Musings while Inspecting a Bomber Close Up

January 6, 2013
Beginning Watercolor Sketch or a Vintage Bass Plug

Beginning Watercolor Sketch or a Vintage Bass Plug

In my recent watercolor Odyssey, I have wandered from the macrocosms of landscapes and cityscapes to the microcosms of still life objects, and now this single three-inch wooden plug of a vintage Bomber, popular in my youth for reconnaissance missions involving largemouth black bass.

A new friend recently lent me an old metal tackle box overflowing with the vintage lures that instantly translated me to my childhood world of fishing in mid-America.  It has been many decades since I recalled the names of our most popular lures–the Lazy Ike, the Lucky 13, the Hula Popper, the Jitter-Bug, the deep-diving Rappala, the hump-backed Rebel.  All of those memories flooded back to me in a torrent.  As though it were yesterday, I closed my eyes and recalled that hot and muggy summer evening at a neighborhood lake, where at age ten, I felt the jolt of a four-lb. largemouth bass slamming into my wooden plug with its three double hooks.  Five minutes of an eternity later, I was looking down upon my own landed lunker, in disbelief, watching him twisting in the weeds.

As I began sketching this last night, my eyes moved all over the body of this lure.  Every crack, every stain records a piece of its unique history of fishing holes, tackle boxes, garages, station wagons, tents, picnic tables, conversations and laughter.  It may have been dropped thoughtlessly to lie on the bottom of a john boat, its treble hooks snarled in a net, listening to the voices and laughter of celebration over landing a six-lb. bass, as cameras were being drawn from the knapsacks.

So many stories, ideas and images packed into a three-inch wooden plug.

So much lingers upon

a red-and-white plug,

bathed in white light,

beside the green box.

(O.K.–I am cheating off of William Carlos Williams and his The Red Wheelbarrow).

Thanks anyway for reading.

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.

Another poured watercolor attempt, February 20, 2010

February 20, 2010

Fly Fishing

I spent the duration of this day writing a Unitarian sermon for delivery in the morning.  Finally finished the manuscript around 8:30 tonight and decided to get after a new watercolor (I’ve had the “itch” the entire day).  I have only one completed fly fishing watercolor to my credit (on my website   I don’t particularly like it, because it is too pale and too controlled, as far as I’m concerned.  Aside from a forest on the left background that I think approaches Wyeth’s drybrush technique, I generally dislike the piece.

I have another fly fishing composition started, that has been disastrous so far and is currently buried in my stack of “works in progress” (I haven’t touched it in over a year–maybe I’ll get it out again soon).

This one is barely an hour old.  It’s going very slowly, because it is smaller than my “fox hunt” painting, and this is on a watercolor block, so the pigments are drying very, very slowly.  At least the fox hunt was stretched over canvas stretchers, and that leads to much quicker drying.  I’m really antsy to get to the dark green pigments to lace around the fall foliage in the background, but I’m wondering if the reds and yellows will dry before I can get to it later tonight.  I’m also anxious to put some deeper blues and greens into the water–again the yellows just won’t dry.  Patience!  At least I did a little bit of drybrush rendering on the fly fisherman before the pouring began.

Hopefully, I’ll pursue a series of fly fishing watercolors, as well as fox hunts.  Too bad I work so many hours at school throughout the week, and have this occasional weekend sermon responsibility.  I think I’ll be able to return to the studio tomorrow afternoon, however.

Thanks for reading.