Posts Tagged ‘fly fishing’

One Final Commission Before Christmas

December 22, 2015

fly fishing watercolor photoshoppedTime is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.  I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.  I cannot count one.  I  know not the first letter of the alphabet.  I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The first days of the holiday have been busy, but I finished my final commission for Christmas and now am ready for some r ‘n r.

Thanks for reading.

A New Greeting Card

February 23, 2015
My Latest Greeting Card

My Latest Greeting Card

Spurred by depression, they strove to create imaginary worlds. to compensate for what was missing in their lives, to repair the damage they had suffered, to restore to themselves a sense of worth and competence.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

Having a day off has been filled with reward, especially with the icy conditions making travel unwise. It has been the perfect day for staying indoors with coffee, books, music and an opportunity to turn to artistic pursuits. After hours of grading, I pushed aside the papers and returned to re-reading a favorite book of mine by Anthony Storr. This book has probably helped me more in my study of artists, philosophers and poets throughout history who have turned to their craft as a means of finding some measure of coherence in a world they found largely unsatisfying. I don’t count myself among them, but still I love to retreat into my private world of ideas and see what I can put on paper with words and images.

Returning to my studio I have attempted to complete a couple of still lifes begun weeks ago. Though my fly fishing still life may not be finished, I decided to go ahead and compose a written piece about it and create a new greeting card (it’s been months since my last card was printed). Above I’ve posted a picture of it as it stands now. I’m inside of a month from returning to the art festival circuit so I’m starting to feel the push to get some new merchandise ready for display and sale.

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 Gratifying Return to the Watercolor Studio

February 23, 2015
Return to the Garage Studio in Winter

Return to the Garage Studio in Winter

Abstraction’s original meaning is “to select from,” in the Latin; though I will not say, as is so easy for defenders of abstract art, that consequently all art is abstract because all art is selected; this is simply to win a dialectical point–in the Socratic sense of dialectical. Au Contraire. What is selected is selected on the basis of the most concrete, personal feeling.

Robert Motherwell, October 1959

With today’s school closure, I just learned that the grading deadline has been extended an extra day. With a shout, I returned to my garage studio that I had not visited in nearly a month. Yes, it is 28 degrees outside and ice has covered everything, but this electric space heater works in the garage, two still life arrangements are still set up out here, and the paintings have been waiting my return. So far, I have spent all my time this morning darkening this fly fishing composition over more than 50% of its area, making the background darker and deepening the tones of all the middle values, leaving the highlighted areas untouched. The overall look of the painting has changed profoundly to my eye, but I like the change, and there is certainly no going back. I’ll let it dry out awhile and then return for another look. Meanwhile I have other paintings in progress that have languished for weeks. I’m ecstatic now for this opportunity to get back to them.

Motherwell’s argument posted above has been buzzing in my head today while working on this still life, trying to bring it to fruition. One of my high school art teachers, Mr. Scucchi, was always trying to get me to understand this–no matter how naturalistic my style in rendering subjects in paint, the quality of the composition would always come down to abstraction, particularly to selection. I tried to listen, but didn’t really come to appreciate this until much later. My college painting professor, Dr. Unger, also urged this lesson upon me. Both instructors are now deceased, and I regret that I cannot tell them personally that I now get it, and wish I could tell them directly. I’ll always be grateful for their patience and belief in me as I struggled with these matters. Lingering over this still life today has drawn me closer to their spirits and I’ve enjoyed this feeling of kinship. In many ways, their spirits hover about my work.

What a wonderful way to spend a day off. Incidentally, I still graded for two hours this morning, and will do quite a bit more today. But what a joy knowing that the deadline is no longer tonight.

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.

Fly Fishing Watercolor for the One-Man Show

September 9, 2011

Finding the Seam

My breathing changes profoundly the moment I step into a mountain stream with waders and a fly rod.  There will never be enough of those precious moments, so every time I journey to the Colorado high country, I breathe a prayer of gratitude.  The crystal clarity of a trout stream moving over the rocks from the basement of time contains a beauty beyond the reach of my words.  Henry David Thoreau said “time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

It took a number of years for me to work up the courage to watercolor a fly fishing composition.  My wife took this picture of me fly fishing in South Fork, Colorado.   I chose to pour this composition, masking out tree patterns and pouring pure watercolor pigment from bowls onto the soaked paper.  Sprinkling salt and spritzing the drying pigments created a number of satisfying textures in the foliage as well as the surface of the stream.

I am now counting the hours toward the opening of my One-Man-Show.   Forty-two watercolors are in place at the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (  The show opens Saturday night 5-9:00.   This watercolor has been framed and is now hanging in the show.  I’m proud that my friends get to see the painting at last.  I’m deeply satisfied with the depths of colors and the effects created by the pouring technique.

Thanks for reading.

Fly Fishing on the Brazos Watercolor Sketch Finished

February 27, 2011

Fly Fishing the Brazos

I decided to add a diminutive fly fisherman working the currents in the lower left-hand corner of this sketch.  If I decide he doesn’t “work out,” then I’ll crop him out when I mat and frame the composition.  I’m glad to have another watercolor sketch “in the box,” and delighted that I had yesterday’s outing/odyssey.  But now I’d like to finish up that Eureka Springs BIG painting.  I’m getting kind of tired of looking at it and want to sign it off and drop it off.

Thanks for reading.


Escape to the River for Plein Air Painting and Fly Fishing

February 27, 2011

Highway 16 Bridge over the Brazos

Plein air study of Brazos River Bridge

Saturday offered a break-out day for me.  I set out early in the morning for a two-hour drive west to the Brazos River near Possum Kingdom dam.  Rainbow trout are released there on five different occasions throughout the winter months.  The day was wide open, as my wife Sandi was attending two separate equestrian events in Weatherford.  Along the way, I had to stop at a classic auto show, where I photographed a row of six Hudsons from 1937-1956.  I will no doubt be creating some watercolors of them sooner rather than later.  I also encountered an “Edward Hopper” painting composition–a magnificent Victorian house high on a hill, bathed in the morning sunlight.  Stopping also for a breakfast add-on, as well as a gasoline fill-up, cooler of ice for (hopefully) rainbow trouth and some bottled water, I began to wonder if I would make it before noon.  I did.

Last weekend, I was distracted by fly fishing, and at the end of the day, too pooped to get out the easel and paint, so this time I decided to reverse my priorities.  I set up my French easel alongside the boat ramp and tried to capture this magnificent Highway 16 bridge over the Brazos.  I worked as quickly as possible, mostly wet-in-wet, and then did some sharper definitional work, enough to capture where the details would lie.  The sun grew hotter, my back and neck started to ache, so I broke down the easel, rigged up the fly rod, struggled into my waders and boots, and descended to the river.  Like last week, I lost four and managed to get one on the stringer.  I guess that’s what comes with a barbless hook (for me, anyway).  The size 20 elk-hair caddis does manage to lure 10-12 inch trout to the surface, and I’ll never cease feeling the thrill of watching a riser bust the surface.

By 3:30, I was feeling weary, and knew that I had a two-hour road trip waiting for me, so I packed it in.  On both legs of the trip, I thrilled to the reading of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, narrated by Matt Dillon.  The timing was funny, as I encountered the row of parked Hudsons in Weatherford, just 15 minutes after Sal Paradise asked Dean Moriarty how he had gotten across the United States so fast to visit him.  Answer: “Aw man, that Hudson goes!”

Thanks for reading.  I’m still tweaking this watercolor and may have a different “look” by tonight.  Either way, I plan to be through with it by today’s end.  I have bigger fish to fry!

Fly Fishing Watercolor nearly finished, Halloween 2010

October 31, 2010

Fly Fishing in South Fork, Colorado

After letting this one sit for several months, I took it out this evening, hoping to finish it.  I have another festival coming in two weeks, and would love to complete some of my unfinished pieces lurking in the shadows of my disheveled studio.  This started out as a poured watercolor, and I’m trying to ease off on the brushwork, not wishing to wipe out some of the wonderful accidental effects that came from pouring and salting, mostly on the water and in the background thicket.

Compared to my other works, this is a larger piece, measuring 18 x 24″.  I need to get comfortable once again with larger watercolors.  I’ve been working the 9 x 12″ size for about a year, and fear that I’ve gotten too comfortable there.  I guess that’s a major feature of success in creating art–breaking out of those restrictive “comfort” areas.

Thank you for reading.

Finished the Small Fly Fishing Composition, October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010

Thunderstorm Rise

I finally finished this small 9 x 12″ watercolor that I started several weeks back.  I had never gotten around to finishing the hands, fly rod, and some of the foliage details.  I have another large fly fishing composition in progress that began as a “poured” piece.  Hopefully I will be posting it soon.

Thanks for reading.

Another attempt to paint on a miserably humid day, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010

Troublesome Catch

This small watercolor I worked on during my second day of the Jazz by the Boulevard festival in Fort Worth.  The humidity index was off the charts, and I couldn’t keep my sweat off the paper!  I was pleased with much of this composition, and actually signed it.  But now I’ve changed my mind and will go back into it.  I believe the water surface needs more attention, and I’ve never been pleased with the color and value of the fly fisherman.  I’m thinking about sanding out portions of him and trying for a lighter re-do.  I don’t like how he disappears into the picture, and don’t want to darken him further.  Perhaps a more khaki color is needed in the clothing.  I’m very pleased with the cloud burst (that was an accident).  But I’m dissatisfied with the pair of pastures on the left side of the composition.  I think I’ll leave the foliage as it is.  This was a quick watercolor sketch, and I think it still has some possibilities.
Thanks for reading.

Unmasking the Fly Fishing Watercolor, July 8, 2010

July 8, 2010

South Fork, Colorado 1

Southfork 2

Southfork 3

Southfork 4

Southfork 4

I’ve just peeled away all the masking fluid from this piece, and to say I’m excited about what has come to light is an understatement.  I have finally learned how to draw with masking fluid, indeed even to paint with masking fluid.  For years all I had to show from masking was blobs of white on the paper that had to be “doctored.”  Now I pause, because I’m not sure exactly how to render all these white areas.  But I’ll figure out something.