Posts Tagged ‘rod and reel’

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.

Watercolor Sketching, with Fishin’ on my Mind

January 21, 2013
Arrangement of Vintage Fishing Tackle

Arrangement of Vintage Fishing Tackle

A painting covers its tracks.  Painters work from the ground up.  The latest version of a painting overlays earlier versions, and obliterates them.

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

This is my reason for posting in-progress watercolors on my blog; I want to reveal my watercolor endeavors as works under construction.  And when a painting is finished, I spend plenty of time poring over my photographs taken of the painting as it underwent the stages of construction.

For several days now, I have been looking at this old tackle box overflowing with vintage lures, wondering over what kind of rod & reel to put with them. I’m not yet finished with this “fishing” series, but this evening I took my Garcia Mitchell 300 open-face reel off the display wall of my study and decided to build a small composition around it.  By the time I finished laying out this trio of objects and masking off an 8 x 10″ area on my watercolor block, I was ready to crank out a blockbuster watercolor.

The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance a palace or temple to the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them.

Henry David Thoreau

Now, ninety minutes after beginning, I look at this “sketch” and in the Thoreauvian sentiment, acknowledge that my moon-bridge has become a mere wood-shed, but nevertheless a preliminary study for a larger, more finished painting.  Though the work has fallen below my preliminary expectations, I would not have traded this evening’s quiet studio experience for anything.

Andrew Wyeth said he would work for weeks on preliminary sketches, drybrush watercolors and fragments of compositions, knowing that the “communion” from these encounters would find its way into the final composiiton.  I’m not sure yet what kind of “fishing painting” lies just around the bend (if any), but this evening provided a nice quiet space in my holiday weekend for making art, for studying these small objects, for experimenting with a few new color combinations, and exploring new techniques in drawing and watercolor.

Thanks for reading.