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Meet My Friend, Spot

By March 25, 2011November 7th, 2016Adventures

We all live with some art in our lives… even if it’s the gift of a child; a Christmas card framed in popsicle sticks with macaroni noodles and glitter glued to it.

But, not many people have actually watched a painting come to life. That’s just what you’re invited to do here; join me while I paint a rainbow trout.

Recently, a friend that I’d fished with more than a decade ago contacted me, and he asked if I’d paint a rainbow trout for him… just like the ones he and his son used to catch with me on the Agulukpak River, in Alaska. I love painting fish, and there was no way I’d pass up the opportunity to render another.

I wish I had started this project for you earlier, when the board was nothing but pencil marks, but I didn’t think of it until late at night, after I’d anxiously started the painting.

So we begin here…

I love painting fish… every one of them is a jewel.

Twelve hours later I’ve got two good fins and 10,000 spots to show for it… meet my little friend, “Spot”.

The thing about the spots is this… they’re not just black. They’re different shades of gray; pale when in a horizontal or reflective areas, and darker when they’re in shadow, or on a more vertical plane. The spots have very distinct shapes as well, flat and elliptical when on a horizontal surface, and rounder when on a vertical plane. And, of course their form is dictated by where in the trout’s body they lie; there are some real funky shapes down near where the tail breaks.

Another solid day at the easel, and a few more square inches of progress are added. Spot gets some color.

I had a hard time finding my way yesterday, and mostly messed around trying to get my palette squared away. I just couldn’t get the colors right. I finally got everything worked out in the early afternoon, and ripped on it for four hours or so, until I had to go to a meeting of the local watershed group.

It’s time to give this guy a face, and a little personality…

I spent another twelve-hour day with my new best friend, Spot. Man my eyes are crossed and my shoulders feel like I’ve been tossing hay bales. This art stuff is hard work… but the fumes are nice.

Today, Spot got his stripe!

I was going to paint Spot’s face today, but decided to save the best for last.

I’m real happy with this painting so far… especially the tail. I find it kind of cool that these abstract splotches of paint actually look like something when you step away from them.

Tomorrow, the big boy gets his face… then back to repaint the water; it’s not quite right. I believe the overall value of the water needs to be darker. It will take a lot of very subtle work, but I won’t be happy until it’s right.

I’m happy to say that Spot finally got some face time!

Up close and personal…

It was tough not to work on the painting this weekend. Like anything else in life, you get into a groove and things begin to happen without thinking about them… that’s when I do my best work.

Anyway, I had two columns due, and there was just no way around it… NO PAINTING!

This morning I rushed up to the studio, got my palette primed, the linseed oil mixed, picked up a brush… and felt completely lost. It was as if Spot and I were strangers.

I struggled with my palette; the colors that seemed to mix themselves just a few days ago were a puzzle to me now. The passages that I had unlocked and the mysteries that I had solved were now another riddle. Well, I guess that sort of thing happens when you walk away from anything or anyone… it takes some time to get back in sync.

By the afternoon we’d become friends again, and we were cooking. By dinnertime, Spot had his face.

I always save the most difficult part, or any passage, in a painting for the end. In my case… that’s the mouth of a fish. Don’t ask me why, but I always struggle with the mouth. It took me a while, but I finally got it to a place that I’m happy with.

The painting is done…thanks for coming along for the ride!

Finishing a painting is a lot like raising kids; you create them, you love them, you fight with them… and in the end, the hardest thing about it is knowing when to stop, step back, and let them stand on their own.

The last thing I do is sign my name… it’s finished.