Posts Tagged ‘Sand County Almanac’

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.

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Finishing the Archer City Filling Station

August 12, 2013
Archer City Filling Station and Hudson

Archer City Filling Station and Hudson

Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.  It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

I feel that this watercolor may be finished, though I have yet to sign it.  This afternoon I took a long look at it, made some compositional notes in my journal, returned later, and added only what I had suggested in the journal: darkening the ground  between the building and Hudson, completing the jutting piece of property to the left of the building, completing foliage in the left background, rendering the shingled roof, applying washes of color to the right of the Hudson, finishing the crepe myrtle tree behind the building.  The painting looked much different (and better) to me after those tweakings.  Now I’ll lay it aside for a few days or weeks and decide later if anything else needs to be done.

In response to the quote from Leopold (I’m still trying to finish that book that I started reading years ago!), I’m fascinated with nature and what exactly it is that we consider “beautfiul.”  As stated in an earlier blog, I myself love to look at gnarled dead trees, the kinks in their branches, and the myriad of limbs that dissolve into the sky. No doubt I did more work on the dead trees to the left rear of the gas station than any other single part of this painting, though I doubt sincerely if viewers will even as much as look at that part, which is alright with me.  As a painter, I have never obsessed with what the viewer finds attractive in any of my compositions, so long as the viewer finds the painting worth a second look.

Perhaps tomorrow I can attack the large composition of the Fort Worth Sinclair station I visited yesterday.  I had planned on doing that today, but could not obtain some of the supplies needed to start the painting.  Hopefully tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.