Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Mayfly - Acrylic On Canvas

  Its a subject that only fly fishermen and entomologists get excited about.  In fact, if one would ask the normal human being if they would ever consider hanging this painting in their house the answer would undoubtedly be no but the those select few, the Mayfly is a thing beauty.
   They mayfly constitutes a bulk food group for the trout of not only North America, but the world at large and it is for that reason that we anglers love that odd little bug.  We read about it, study the different species, take time away from fishing to look for them, and have more than one photo of them in our archives.  The flies we tie and fish with emulate the wide range of species in our streams and we constantly search for new and more effective patterns that might deceive the mayflies primary enemy.  So, yeah, We love these little bugs.
    It is for that reason that I decided to sit down the day before Thanksgiving and paint a representation of the mayfly.  My wife may not get it but I am sure a lot of you out there will.

    Having recently completed a Tiger Trout painting using acrylics on canvas I thought I'd give it another go.  Using a very sparse palette of browns, yellows, oranges, and white I chose to use as little definition on the background as possible and focus instead on painting the mayfly.  I then went back and highlighted the areas I needed to with whites and blacks.  In the end its a painting that could easily hang over any fly fishermans tying desk.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody !!

Acrylic On Canvas
For Sale

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tiger Trout Painting

  Sometimes you need to escape your comfort zone to achieve something special and I think I did just that with this painting.  As most of you know, I am primarily a watercolor artist and am really comfortable with that medium.  I have done a few oils and acrylics before but have never got a good feel for it  On this one however, I thought I'd give it another shot.
    Like most anglers that are in tune with the world of fish artwork, certain artists names are easily recognizable and heavily sought after.  If you like salt water fish then Guy Harvey is your guy but if you like fly fishing for the American fresh water species then the biggest name out there has got to be Derek DeYoung.  Other great artists also come to mind but the real hot ticket for trout artwork has got to be Derek.  His stuff is on everything from beer glasses, to flasks, fly boxes, tee shirts, and even drift boats.  If you have been to a fly shop in the last five years then you have seen his work and all of it is brilliant.
    Well, as you can tell, I am a big fan of his work.  My watercolor style may be completely different than his oils and acrylics but it hasn't dampened my desire to try my hand at a style of painting trout that he has made famous.  This artistic representation of a Tiger Trout is an acrylic on canvas and giving credit were credit is due I would feel like a real dolt if I didn't directly attribute this style of painting to Derek.  Of course the subject and design is still all me.

  Anyway, enough hero worship.  I painted this just to see if I could and I think I did it justice.

     So what is a Tiger Trout you ask.  Its a freak of nature.  A sterile cross between a Brown Trout and a Brook Trout, it is one of the few instances in the world where two groups can interbreed to produce offspring.  It is only possible through a rare (or laboratory controlled) heat shock to streams where spawning Brown and Brook trout live.  The dramatic change in weather allows the Brook Trout (with 84 chromosomes) fertilize Brown Trout (only 80 chromosomes) eggs and produce the distinctive Tiger Trout.
    Known for their aggressive appetite for eating other fish, the tiger has been used by stream managers to control populations of invasive fish and since it is sterile there is no danger of mixing them into the native population.  Eventually they will die off and the stream can return to normal.

"The Tiger"
16in X 20in.
Acrylic on Canvas
(and wife says its going into the living room, soooo Its not for sale) 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Weekend Flies & Much More

Orange Brookie Killer
 Its been far to long since my last fishy post but it is not because I have nothing to share.  Quite the opposite - I have had a deluge of stuff to share but due to life I have not had the time to sit down and put it all down.  So I am glad to finally have a moment to sit down and catch up with this hobby thing.  But first I wanted to talk flies.
  For some of you out there you might actually recognize the simple ( and poorly tied) fly that leads this post.  I don't know if it has an actual name but for me I call it the "Brookie Killer".  Tied with a #16 - #20 Dry fly hook, Orange dubbing, orange thread, and a little grizzly hackle wrapped around its length, this easy fly is deadly for small stream brookies.  The most interesting thing about this fly is just how species specific this fly actually is.  All other fish seem to ignore it completely but the Brook Trout will hunt it down with reckless abandon.  It is a definite go-to fly on any brook tout stream.
  Next up is yet another three ingredient fly.  The Peacock Herl Dry may not be the most glamorous gal at the ball (or in the box) but it will lure a few trout to take her out. More of an all around killer in the winter months, this Peacock Hurl dry will never fail when trout are rising on those warmer winter afternoons.  Best if tied small, I choose a #16 or smaller hook, then wrap three Herls forward followed by a little grizzly hackle.  Tied with black thread this simple fly is simple and deadly.
  Quite often the three ingredient flies are overlooked by anglers and it is for that reason I feel the need to promote them as much as possible.  I am also a pathetic fly tyer but you can probably tell that.

    Next up is a little creation that probable wont catch a darn thing but I got this new fur substitute and thought I would play around with it.  With a #12 nymph hook, black thread, red wire, a tuff of synthetic bear fur, and some Magic Stretch to cover the body this fly will probably look better in a salty environment than my rivers and ponds.  Next time I'm at the pond though I will be sure to give it a whirl.  Until it hooks a fish I am holding off naming it. There are far to many flies out there with fancy names that never catch a fish and I refuse to contribute to that list until it produces.
As for the other stuff, you might remember the odd looking $8 lounge chair I whipped up a few weeks ago.  Well one can not just have one fireside chair so with a little more homemade engineering I decided to improve the design and whip up another.  It is a little beefier and architecturally pleasing to the eye but still remains under the $15 goal.  They are bound to get a lot of use year round because unless it is raining we are a family that loves the outdoors.
And since this is an art and fishing blog I thought I'd share a little painting I did quite a while ago.  I ran across this little bird while cleaning out my studio and had completely forgotten about it.  It was just one of those little paintings I did back in 2008 while on the road prior to launching this web thing.  Relatively small in size, the watercolor is only 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches.
Unfortunately if any of you had a mind to buy it from me I will now refer you to my grandmother-inlaw.  You are going to have to go through her to get it.  I suspect she would sell it for the right price (everything has a price) but you better bring your big boy wallet because it might be steep :-).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Grandfather

    After a long absence from this hobby thing, I wanted to share a bit about my Grandfather.  The belt you see here is a hand crafted piece of work done by my grandfather nearly 40 years ago.  Part of the reason I have not posted anything recently was because my beloved grandfather passed away last week.  Buried with full military honors - complete with gun salute, and taps - my grandfather was a veteran of World War 2.  At the age of 17 he joined up and served in the Pacific.  He also was an almond and walnut farmer in the central California valley, a carpenter, and a dedicated fisherman.  He was a God fearing dedicated family man that raised a large family with my grandmother on a farm that dated back to the turn on the last century.
  When I was a little snot, I remember watching as he helped my father build our first house in the mountains of California.  He was a tireless worker at everything he put his mind to doing and worked every day to provide a solid home for his family
  Before I was born he was working on framing up a house and took a spill from a second story roof and busted nearly all his bones in his hand.  As part of his rehab he made this belt.  Some of my fondest memories of him were us on Lake Don Pedro and Pinecrest Lake in hills Central California as we trolled for large lake trout.  Using lures that he hand crafted and cut from copper pipes he had shaped into deadly effective spoons, we would troll around all day till the limit had been reached and then head back to do the cleaning.
   Needless to say, I was extremely honored to be given his belt.  I cant think of a better way to remember my grandfather than with a piece of his artwork he used.  It is something I can tell my children about and it is a great way to remember a life well lived.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fish On Friday News

  Its Friday again and yet another week gone by of cool fall days and dwindling fishing opportunities.  Luckily for me I was able to get out twice this week.  A few days ago my son and I hit the local pond where we were able to hook into quite a few small aggressive bass.  It was a blast for him and probably even more so for me.  Nothing can beat the sight of an excited kid reeling a good fish.
  Yesterday I had yet another fishing opportunity as I made a business trip up to the Chattooga River Fly Shop in  Mountain Rest SC - but more on that later.  After my meeting I hit the Ellicott Rock Wilderness for a little fishing with the bamboo fly rod and Abel Reel.  As always the area was stunning in its beauty.  The fall colors were in full blown brilliance and despite the amount of leaves and needles in the stream, I managed to hook into a few trout.
 The water was so clear that it was fun to see the slow rises of hungry trout even if it made me focus my casts and provide them with the perfect presentation while still trying to aim for the random spots of water devoid of fall foliage.  Truly a challenge.

  Now for some exciting news slightly related to fly fishing but I feel the need to share it with you anyways.  Yesterday I was invited up to the Chattooga River Fly Shop by the owners Karl and Karen.  I'll save you the details of the meeting and simply say that if you are interested in my art, there is now a physical place where you can see it in the flesh.  The Chattooga River Fly Shop currently has approximately 20+ original pieces of my art now on display and for sale.
  For those of you that have never been to the fly shop in Mountain Rest SC let me just tell you that it is just the kind of place you picture in your minds eye as the perfect fly shop - complete with the aged pooch lazing around in the corner as the owner is busy at work tying up flies for a future guide trip.  Idyllic to say the least and just the right environment for my style of artwork.
  The plans they have to expand the upstairs into an artisan space full of local artist seems like the perfect marriage. Needless to say, I am looking forward to our partnership.
  If you find yourself on the road from Atlanta north or fishing the world famous Chattooga River (that right - the river featured on the movie Deliverance)  I encourage you to hit up Mountain Rest and visit the Chattooga River Fly shop.  And as always, my artwork is still available at

  On one final note updating a previous post.  I finally finished the simple chair I had been working on this week.  After a great color of stain and weatherproofing this chair is looking good enough to be in any rustic chic boutique.  I am sure to enjoy quite a few nights relaxing by the fire pit in this baby.  That is if I can beat my wife to it..... come to think of it, I better make another.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fishing With The Boy & Constructing A Cheap Sun Chair

  I took to the pond yesterday with my boy for a little bass fishing.  With a chilly wind and a bright sun high in the sky doing a decent job of heating the afternoon water, we were able to hook into a few small bass in the short time we flicked out some flies.
    Despite having a minor mishap with a thistle in the palm of his hand, the little guy did a good job of reeling in two active fish with my MRC large arbor reel and #8w fly reel.  He hasn't got the hang of casting the big rod yet so I helped out a little bit by hooking fish but he quickly took over and enjoyed the fight to bring it in.
    He was also a bit nervous about sticking his thumb in the fishes mouth but after a bit of schooling in how to properly hold a bass he gave it a try and luckily all the bass behaved.
    Over all it was a good hour with the boy before we headed back home for some homemade pizza. I am sure it is yet another day at the pond that he will remember for quite a while.

    Before we went fishing however I had a good few hours to mess around in the garage with a spur of the moment idea while walking the isles of my local hardware store.  Originally I had gone there to get a chimney sweep so I can clean out the fireplace and save myself over $230.  $230!!!  No thanks, I'll stick to my cheap Dutch roots and do it myself.  I hate going on my roof for anything but for $230 I'm not blinking an eye.
So how do you turn a total of $7 in cheap lumber and $5 in hardware into something relaxing?  You just make a few simple cuts and drill a few holes and then you got a very comfortable sun chair to place outside near the fire.
  I actually found the idea for the chair on an advertisement for Delta.  It was a background piece of furniture on a travel banner but it looked so easy to make that I thought it would be an quick project to get me back in the garage and out of the house.  Happily it was nearly as easy as I had hoped and even though I will make a few changes to the design in the next chair, it was simple and more importantly - Cheap!