Monday, October 31, 2011

Flies & Feathers From Brook Trout

I got something in the mail the other day that really got me excited.  Alan, aka Brk Trt, aka sent me three of the best looking flies currently in my collection.  I mentioned to Alan a while ago that I was getting a collection of flies together for a display piece.  My plan was to use a large and very old type setters drawer I purchased at an antique store a while back and fill it with great looking flies and antique lures.
Once I get it all together, rest assured that I will be doing a post on it but for right now I am in the gathering stage and these three flies will compliment the display perfectly.
This isn't the first time Alan's flies have graced the Year On The Fly.  Some of you might remember The Proudre Canyon Special.  For that fly Alan and I got together to send the Midgeman a special piece.  I must admit that I was a bit jealous of the midgeman but now he can envy me.
I am also sharing it with you so you might become aware of the great flies that Alan has been tying.  I have looked these three flies over and over with the eye of a novice fly tier and am amazed at the quality of work and obvious time spent on each fly.  Alan might appreciate my painting skills but they are nothing to the skills he has with the hook and feather. Well done Alan.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October Cutthroat Trout & A Soo Brew

  For this new work I went back to what I know best; watercolor.  I also thought that it was somewhat fitting for the time of season with all the vampires and creepy killers on the loose.  After all, doesn't every cutthroat you have seen look like it has had its throat slashed?
  Anyway, I painted this with the Idaho trip I did this past summer on my mind.  I love cutthroat trout and have painted them before but each new painting is separate animal, not unlike the fish themselves.
I had intended to do a progressive photo record of this work but as often time happens, I got caught up in the flow of the work and completely forgot until the piece was nearly complete.  While painting with watercolors you need to lay color down all the time, careful to keep an eye on how the water is drying and mixing the pigments.  This process of layering and moving paint while racing the drying effects and sometimes waiting for the piece to dry just right before laying down another layer takes a fair amount of concentration and as such - this is the only progressive photo I got.
Also unlike oils, working in watercolors gives me the benefit of mobility.  It is extremely easy to pack a pad of paper, a few tubes of paint, and brushes into a carry on luggage than it would be to pack a stretch canvas, a variety of brushes and pallets, and larger tubes of paint.  Also a watercolor dries in hours while an oil takes weeks to completely dry.
For those wondering if this item will be for sale, the answer is no.  I did this work at the request of my father who asked for an original for a charity auction he is working with (For those in the northwest Washington area, you might be able to get in on this).  I will be however making a few prints available for purchase soon.  Feel free to Email Me if this is a work you would like to have as an 8x10 print.

"October Cutthroat"
6" x 8" Watercolor On
100% Cotton, Acid Free Hot Pressed Paper
Also I was in Sault St. Marie, Michigan the other day and stopped into the Soo Brew Company for one brew and ended up with a good dose of Soo brew.  Imagine bellying up to a bar in 1890 on the American frontier and ordering a beer and getting slid down to you a handed crafted brew that surpasses a lot of micro brews on the market.  If you can imagine that you need to visit Sault St. Marie Michigan where the the locals are known are yoopers and all others are known as trolls. 
I started the afternoon with the highly recommended Braveheart Stout (named after the owners dog) for a rich yet smoothly thick brew and then next the  Maggie's Red (a brew named after the ownrers daughter).
Both are great complex brews that are not only VERY smooth but also are so slowly brewed that they lack the harsh alcohols that cause a hangover.  I spent a little time with the owner and brew master to talk about his process.  I even watched as he tested and measured the alcohol and brew process of a few brews working in the vats behind the bar.  What a great place! 
Great people, Freaking great beer, and a locally owned brew I will support all day long.  The only beer I disliked was the GoldiLocks but I like the thicker more complex brews and he advised me that the Golilocks might not be my style.  I did witness a few local girls that ordered the Goldilocks but for me it just wasn't enough.  For a good in-between brew that might be lighter than a stout and thicker than a Goldi I'd say the Sooper Yooper IPA might be your speed but for me its absolutely the Stout or the Red.
I also spent a bit of time with the owners un-official taste tester and the guy that crafted all the hearty tables in the bar (as well as local craftsman) and got a good look at the soul of the soo.  Analysis, the Soo is about people that do and not people that rely on others to do for them.  Long story sort, If you are in the Soo and looking for a great place to kick back and drink some good brews, head to the SOO Brewing Company for the best brews around!! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oil Painting Of A Trout In Hand

Back to painting and being inspired bu the blogging network.  Some of my loyal followers might have noticed that oil painting is not one of my more common styles of painting and to tell the truth it has somewhat intimidated me as an artist.  Up until recently most of my works have been watercolors, pen and ink, and pencil pieces but I thought I would push my boundary a bit and branch out into oils and see what happens.  After all, one does not grow without expanding the knowledge base and for me I truly only learn by just doing it.
For this oil I turned to a popular blogger and frequent collaborator - Josh from .  I loved the simple colors and the lines of this fish half out of the water.  The smooth arch of the back and angle of Josh's hand dipped into the water made for a typical yet simply artful composition for me to work with.  I also loved the colors in the water as they ran around and reflected the sky, the grassy bank, and the fish.  I did not go into this painting with the idea of exactly duplicating the photo but instead simply use it as a springboard for the final piece.

The photo above was taken while the paint is still wet so there is allot of reflection of light and a few dark shadows that seem to alter the true colors of the piece.  I believe that the distant picture on top shows more of the actual feel of the piece and I figure that you get the overall gist of what it should look like.  Maybe when it is completely dry I can get a better photo of it but for now its as good as it gets.
"Red Arch Of Trout"
11x14 in. Oil On Canvas

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sketching And Remembering The Salt

After a great trip fishing the Florida Gulf shore I am back to reality.  No more waking with the sun to flip off my sandals on the shore, wade waist deep into the cool refreshing salt waters of the bay or ocean, and no more chasing those fins with my undersized 6w fly rod.  No more sand creeping into areas where sand should never go, no more taking the kiddos to the beach in the afternoon, and no more proudly watching while my kids take turns doing full face plants in the surf as their Bogey board tumbles drifts ashore.
Now its back to work and dreaming about the next time I can get to the salt.  I have been seeing allot of these stickers lately advocating the 'Salt Life' and now I know what they truly mean.  I think that I could fit in nicely living the life of a Hemingway novel on the back islands of the Florida Keys.  Salt Sand and Sun fit nicely with my idea of an ideal spot.  You throw in the opportunity to wade out from my back deck and flip flies and streamers at seriously aggressive fish on the ebb of the tide and I will be your huckleberry.  
In case your wondering about the horse sketch and scratching your head about what it has to do with the beach, well It doesn't.  As I said I'm back at work and currently stuck in Lexington KY.  I just thought I'd share a locally inspired sketch.  The picture below was the view out my back window of my Florida getaway.  A million dollar view that, thanks to a generous aunt that owns the place, didn't cost me a dime.  My wife and kids will remember it for ever.
and the picture below was our last sunset taken just out of St Pete on a point overlooking the bay.

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Florida Surf Fishing

Just sharing a few more pics of my mornings catches. In just over2 hours I hooked into well over 40 fish on nearly any type of fly I flung at them.  I even hooked into this massive beast that stripped my line to its backing, took half a dozen giant leaps and tossed my fly in one last wave of the fin. Seriously, this guy was huge and strong but as I never had a photo, it just another fish story. Next time I tell it the fish will be pushing 10 pounds and it will probably morph into a legendary tarpon.  Regardless, this trip has been a blast and one the family and I will always remember.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Sailboat & A Ladyfish

While on one of our daily excursions to the beach with the kidos, this beautiful sailboat was cruising past just a few hundred yard off shore and begged to be sketched out. I love about everything nautical and as I'm sketching I begin to wonder why I don't do more sailboat pictures.  Maybe when I get back home I'll take out the paint and try my hand at a few schooners.
I also got up early and took the fly rod down to the beach instead of the grass flats of the bay. In 2 hours of fast and furious fishing I believe my father-inlaw and I hooked into over 40 ladyfish, jacks, and pompeno.  The ladyfish you see in the picture fought hard and jumped about a dozen times before I landed her. Beautifully strong fish that can leap 3-5 feet in the air and shake their head with such force, you had better be hooked in good or else all you'll get is a glimpse of that fine lady.
Oh, did I mention that the only fly rod I brought on this trip was a 6 weight!  That right, a 6w!  A Freekin Blast!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Redfish....Hook Me Up!

Yet another day in the salt chasing fins with my fly rod and boy was it a blast. 
After a rather late night playing cards and enjoying a 'few' beverages I felt that nothing would make me feel like my old self like wading on the flats.  Let me tell you that if you can find the energy to pry yourself out of bed after 4 hrs of sleep and hook into a big redfish that tests you line for a good 5-10 minutes, any illness you might be dealing with will instantly be cured.
Again I say that I now know why so many anglers swear by saltwater fishing. My first redfish and I can't wait to hook into another. I also landed 4 other spotted sea trout and hooked into 3 more energetic fishing that broke loose before I could get a hand on them. I'll spare you those pics but they were once again some sweet looking fish.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Spotted Sea Trout

Another day of fly fishing the grass beds for trout.  I am beginning to see why so many anglers love the salt. These fish are big mean and a blast to hook into. I was hoping for a redfish, big drum, or sheephead but if all I catch for the next few days is trout I won't be disappointed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sea Trout On The Fly

No art to post but I did manage to do a little fishing today and hooked into two very nice sea trout. What a freekin blast!
I only had about 45 min but it was enough and man what a rush. I also learned a few things:
1 - always tie up enough fly patterns for your trip.
2 - don't forget your fly patterns at home on the coffee table... Seriously $4.90 for a simple hair streamers at the local shop. I could have tied 20 patterns like that at home for that price..
3 - don't Ever....and ever! Grab a sea trout by the lip or try to unhook him with your fingers. I quickly learned to avoid those massive fangs the hard way!  What a fighter.
These were my first sea trout ever and I can't wait to go back for more. Now off to the beach for a bit of family memories to go with these fishing memories.  Good times!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

3 Flies

Three flies painted in a monochromatic color for a Tuesday post.  The first is a Stimulator with heavy hackles, a pair of  hopper wings overlapped with white hair.  A killer pattern for all types of fish in many types of water conditions.
Next is the good old big fat Humpy fly.  Also painted in a monochrome color.  Heavy use of hackles and ribbed foam body make this a great strong current fly.   Better have some big flies on the water to use this fat little guy or the fish might just snub you.
And the final monochrome fly for this Tuesday is the V.A Wasp.  With a fat foam but and use of hackles.  Adding a few slight wings and plastic barbel eyes provide for a realistic fly pattern for warm water flies.
All the inspiration for these flies come from the blog.