Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ray Bergman Collection - Watercolor

After a rather long week of work I settled down yesterday to paint a few flies... Okay - actually 24 flies.  Hearkening back to the days of posting a a fly a day for the entire year in 2010, I set to work sketching out flies with the idea of  making this piece similar to the presentation flies made so famous by Ray Bergman.
That's right - thee Ray Bergman - author of the timeless trout anglers bible simply titled TROUT.
Taking the suggestion brought up by Mark - author and sportsman of some of the best brook trout fishing on the net - Small Stream Reflections - I decided to pick out some Ray's flies for this piece.
Searching the net and with a little help from Mark I keyed up on HatchesMag and Don Bastian masterfully tied flies.
Painted on Acrid Free Bristol paper with bright watercolors and inked out with an archival pen, I wanted to give this collection a more artistic feel instead of trying to duplicate in every detail the image of the original fly.  I wanted to focus on the piece as a whole so I will save you the time reading through each fly.  Rest assured though, I do have a master list of every fly I used as a model for this piece.  Maybe the discerning Ray Bergman fan can name a few?

  I have begun to love this style of painting and although it may seem a bit haphazard and frantic, the process is actually a delicate balancing act of deciding when to add and when to let it be.

"The Bergman Collection"
Ink and Watercolor on Bristol
9in  X 11in
For Sale

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Morning At The Hunting Grounds

This past weekend my buddy  and I made a trip to our hunting grounds to prep the land for the upcoming hunting season.  As the farm also holds two very nice ponds I was not going to waste an opportunity to wet a fly so at sun-up we headed out with weed eaters, rototillers, and fishing equipment.
After a strenuous time tilling up a patch of land that had laid dormant for many years, we spread out the seeds of field clover and tasty grasses then proceeded to work them into the soil.  This little bit of manual labor took us most of the morning and every time I embark on an activity like this I cant help but appreciate how hard early settlers must have had it turning virgin soil into a cash crop.  We had a gas rototiller and I still lost five pounds of sweat and got a blister or two to prove how hard fresh soil can be.  Imagine doing it with mules and a single blade plow.... amazing.

So with a good mornings work behind us we grabbed our fishing gear and decided to reward our selves with a little time on the water.  Unfortunately the massive amounts of rain we have had down here in the south this summer has all but killed water conditions.  Our ponds which are usually a dark clear color with four foot visibility now are so high and stained that a bass would be had pressed to see a few inches.  With the water invading the banks nearly a foot past high water level I am sure that they hare having a good time invading weed beds and brush piles but unfortunately that makes for frustrating fishing.  despite all that, I did manage to get a few strikes and even brought in a small bass.  My buddy on the other hand came up empty and quickly decided to call it a day.
One things for sure, come opening day we will be well set up for good hunting season.  I'm looking forward to a winter of deer stew.  If the summer is any indication, I am expecting a cool and stormy December and a warm stew is just what the doc ordered to lift ones spirits.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout

After a great bike ride this morning - just to get the blood flowing - I cleared the morning dishes from the kitchen table and settled down to paint up a little trout.  For this one I took an  idea from a recent customer.  He told me that he would like to see me paint up an endangered Rio Grande Trout sometime in the future.  I have never painted a Rio Grande Trout so when I set up to paint up a trout I thought why the heck not.
  I figure that if I keep painting new trout eventually I will run out of species.  If I was a more studious artist I would catalog all the paintings I have done over the years and someday come up with a real nice trout book but as it is I simply paint up the fish - post it for all you to see - and then hopefully sell it off and fund my fly fishing addiction.

    For this painting I decided to use another base to paint on.  I have been doing a lot of illustrations lately and in doing so have fallen in love with the stark white of the Bristol illustration paper.  I love the smoothness of the surface and the brilliant contrast it gives to the work.  Looking at the weight of the paper I thought that if I used a light wash the brilliant whites of the paper would really make the colors of a fish like the Rio pop off the paper.
Since I was using illustration paper I decided that a sketch in archival ink would suit the painting well.  After I finished with that I mixed up some colors and worked extremely quick to lay down consistent color on a a paper I soon found out was very thirsty.  Because the nature of the paper I was forced to mix and drop color much faster than I would ever do with watercolor paper.  The result was a true watercolor effect of bright thin washes and unfinished, artsy brush stroked.  As expected, the brilliant white of the paper made the yellows and reds of the Rio Cutthroat Trout come to life.  I think you will see many more paintings in the future using this smooth paper.
Rio Grande Cut
Watercolor on (96lb acid free) Bristol Paper
Size - 10in X 14in
For the backdrop I decided to make the fish come off the paper even more with a little shadow and paint texture effects.
If you are interested in purchasing this work, send me an email inquiry and I'll send out the details.  For those of you new to my work and are wondering how much my paintings usually run - take a look at my site for comparison.  Most of my original paintings run between $100-$350 and come to you with their own mat ready for you to frame them up.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fish Illustration Plus Extras

I just thought I would show off a few of my recent illustrations using my new computer software and illustration tablet.  The sketch above of a stylized brookie was a quick idea I inked out over coffee in the morning then loaded it in the old computer to mess with and create a more dynamic piece then the original sketch could ever have been as a stand alone piece.  I was going for a more modern pop art style while keeping a color palette compatible with the standard outdoorsman decor.

Still trying to figure out all the ins and out of doodling on the computer, I worked on a few other images just to get in some practice.  A few of my other interests besides fly fishing are aviation, vintage art design, and anything old.  With all that in mind I created two works of illustration art.
For the Aviate work I sketched out a World War One pilot in his cockpit then went in a did a little graphic design work to spice it up a bit.
For the Old School Rally I again sketched out a graphic depiction of the main character purposefully leaving out a few of the cycle elements.  I wanted to practice creating vintage event poster effects and I couldn't think of anything better than a classic motorcycle rally.  Honestly, there is nothing cooler right now than the classics and a vintage motorcycle racer is as classic cool as you get.
(don't look for this event in Albany, IL.  The Albany Rally does not exist.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Messing With Bass Bones

  Skulls and skeletons seems to be all the rage these days as far as art and tattoos go so with that in mind I decided to jump on the wagon and sketch up this dead bass.  I finally decided to get myself a graphics tablet for my computer art and needed the practice using it.  Sketching the lines and curves of a skull seemed to be a great subject and since I love to fish I thought a bass skull would be a great model.
    Names for the Pub sign I passed on where Sticky Bass Pub, Bad Bass Ale House, and The Dead Fish Inn.  Who wants a sign?
I also went a little crazy after that and sketched the whole fish.  I wont claim that it is anatomically correct so don't email me to point out the there is suppose to be four more bones on the anal fin of a typical bass.  Again, I needed the practice using the tool and sometimes I just get carried away.
I then decided to mess around a little more and explore new ideas in the computer and craft a bass sticker.  I  don't know... can you see this on the back of a die hard bass fisherman pickup truck?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Renaissance Man

Lately I have not been doing much fishing.  For anyone that watches the weather you have no doubt seen the massive amount of rain we have had here in the southeast.  The rivers are all blown out and without a boat I find that lake fishing is tough to do with a fly rod.  So with my rod hung up for the time being I have been focusing my free time to becoming somewhat of a renaissance man.
For those of you that don't know what a Renaissance Man is:

Renaissance man

a cultured man of the Renaissance who was knowledgeable, educated, or proficient in a wide range of fields.
sometimes lowercase a present day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.
I don't think I have ever been described as 'cultured' but I do share a desire to be proficient at a wide range of fields.  Old Leonardo da Vinci is a crowning example of a Renaissance man.  Old Leo was truly a master of many talents.  I will never achieve this stature but it sure is a goal more people should strive for.
 Some time ago I received an old wood lathe and I have just recently decided to make use of it.  The chess pieces you see as the lead image for this post are just a few examples of my first attempts at figuring out how to use this piece of equipment.  None of them match but they will serve as good starting points to put together a great chess set.  I have not decided what wood to make the set out of yet but rest assured that I will post the final product for all to see.  The pieces you see here are a made from a motley collection oak, poplar, and a dogwood tree I cut back this winter.
 Using the dogwood firewood I also created a nice wood working mallet.  I was surprised at how beautiful this wood was once it was lathed down to bare wood.  Starched white and laced with red pigments I was almost ashamed to use it as fire wood.  With a few more pieces still on the pile outside my garage I hope I can find a few uses for it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Painting The Ruby River Brown

  Well it has been nearly an entire month since I last posted anything of any significance and the truth is I don't have any excuse except to say that after the high of fishing the historic Montana waters I found myself wondering how I could top that.  After all, when in my fishing past have I ever had the opportunity to fish every day and pull in one beautiful trout after another?  Coming back to Carolina I found myself a little depressed that my waters could never offer me what the Gallatin and Ruby did in that memorable week.
  It has also been over two months since I picked up a paintbrush and pen.  For this there is absolutely no excuse so with the idea of rectifying this mortal sin I decided to kill two birds with one stone.  As a Thank you to Brian - my unofficial Montana guide - I decided to immortalize one of his many browns with a little pen and paint.  This beautiful trout was returned (as was every one we caught) to the the cool waters of the Ruby River but thanks to a quick photo his likeness will grace the walls of a dedicated angler.
    Starting from a photo I sketched out this black and white brown in hand.  For this style of art I use an archival ink pen that provided good crisp black lines that last even after long exposure to light.
    After finishing the sketch I then begin the fun part of dropping color into the painting.  If it looks a little like 'color by numbers' well then you are not far off the mark.  I can pretend that there is great skill involved in this process but the truth of the mater is that only a thimble full of talent is needed to combine the colors and layers to produce a living painting like this.  Given enough practice and a trained eye for colors I think that anyone has the potential to paint.
    I call this one "Brian's Ruby Brown" and by the name you can guess that this beauty is not for sale.  It will soon be shipped back to Montana and the angler that caught the fish that posed for the painting.
    For those that flatter me by following this humble blog of art and fish I would like to apologize for my recent absence from the web.  After being at this blog thing for a number of years now it sometimes starts to become a chore and not as fun as I want it to be.  When I begin to feel that way I know it is necessary to unplug from the electronic age and just exist.  This post is the first time I have warmed up the computer in the past three weeks and I would be lying if I said it was a painful absence. Truth is it was a refreshing break but now that I am back posting I can say that it is a pleasure to share my love of art and fishing with you.  Thanks again for your continued support.