I got home the other day from a very long stretch on the road and needed a quiet day at home. I had thought I would be hitting the water but with the frontal system that rolled through the area yesterday and this morning I was certain that the river would be blown out. So with a quiet house and warm water dreams on the mind I set to work painting another bluegill.
Starting out I had in mind to paint a standard bluegill but as soon as I opened the pad I knew that this painting needed something else. I sketched out the bluegill and then added a few lilly pads and then added something I have never attempted before. By sketching out a lilly pad flower just over the pads and fish it not only added an element of beauty but a great contrast for the dark colors of the painting.
After sketching out the fish and dropping in a base coat of color I then add detailed washes of color to add depth and character. Dropping color and using gradients of pigment to build up the body of the fish I gradually began to see the finished blugill emerge off the paper. In the early days of painting I used a masking fluid to save the white paper from over paint but as I grow as an artist I find myself having much better control over the flow of the water and pigments. Now I rarely ever use a masking component and rely on my hand to save the white on the paper like on the flower pedals of this painting.
After painting the majority of the pumpkinseed bluegill I then begin working on the lillypads. After the lillypads I then finished up the fish and began working on the soft white lilly pad flower. There are many color varieties of lilly flowers but I chose to paint mine with a standard white outside bright yellow interior. This combination gives the painting a much needed splash of white to to contrast the colors of the fish and has the added benefit of bringing out the yellows of the belly.
I love spending the summer hours fishing these aggressive little fish with a fly rod. Often you will find them in pockets feeding on anything that hits the water while other time you need to choose your flies carefully. I once had a #2 bass popper on and was jerking it across the top of an old farm pond when I had one of these bluegill hit it. The bluegill was much bigger than the normal gills one sees but still the body of the popper was twice as big as the mouth of this fish. How he expected to get such a meal down is beyond me but he gave it a try. It fought like a champ on my 4W rod and it wasn't until I got it in that I realized it was not a bass. What I learned that day was not undervalue these fish. I have always appreciated the color variety they poses but as a game fish most people toss them in the junk pile of bait stealing fish.
I however - along with a growing amount of fly anglers - often go out to target these fish. I once read a book that was written around the end of the 1800's that described the bluegill as the perfect warm water fish for dry fly fishing. The book was written in a time when catch and release fishing was not even a thought. Anglers and fly fishermen kept everything they caught and used it to supplement their food supply. After spending the last few years often fishing along side a spin caster I can see just how much better the fly is when targeting these fish. They truly are a dry fly anglers perfect warm water fish. I only wish they would get much bigger.
"Pumpkin Seed On Lilly Pads"
Watercolor On Paper
Size - @ 11"X 14"