Tuesday, April 30, 2013


"Apparition" 12x9 acrylic

I haven't been having much luck getting any projects finished lately. I have 7 paintings in various stages of incompletion. It felt good to sign and photograph this one today.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April at Its Finest

I left the studio yesterday morning at 9:00 setting off to explore a small trout stream I had not fished since I was a youngster. My calls to fishing partners the day before were unsuccessful, so I was on my own... and that was okay. The solitude would offer me the luxury of moving at my own pace, poking along the stream banks and lingering as the mood dictated.
Soon after I left the truck, the morning sun had warmed the countryside enough to make my fleece jacket unnecessary. I stuffed it into my daypack and started looking for trout.
It's funny how I can get distracted from the task at hand on days like this. Wildflowers carpeted the brushy stream banks and I found myself spending quite a bit of time photographing them. Trout lilies, spring beauty, and large toothwort (I think) were thriving in the rich soil of the valley floor. I happily crawled along the wet muddy ground shooting photo after photo.

Trout lily
Large toothwort

Caddis flies along the stream
With that out of the way, I got back to trout fishing. There were clouds of caddis flies hovering above the water. The streamside brush was covered with them. It wasn't long before I caught my first fish... a large fat brook trout that made me smile as I popped the hook from its jaw and let it swim away. That was a very good start!

Rainbow trout
The trout, mostly rainbows, were finicky. I fished long stretches of spectacular water without a sign of a fish, then happen upon a spot where I'd catch one and maybe miss another. The lengthy distances between fish contacts were puzzling. I don't feel like I ever really figured the fish out, so every time I managed to hook one, it seemed like I accomplished something.
One of many deer along the stream
The wildlife activity along the stream made me think the critters were enjoying the warm sun as much as me. Deer would wander up to me as I stood in the middle of the stream before realizing I was there. Turkeys scurried through the skunk cabbage. Ruffed grouse flushed ahead of me offering only a glimpse as they winged through the dense undergrowth. At one point, a sharp-shinned hawk nearly took my hat off as it zipped by.
This morning, my sore legs are a reminder of a great day afield. I can get back to my work in the studio with a renewed enthusiasm. Time to get busy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Cool Spring Creek"

"Cool Spring Creek" 10x8 acrylic
Just off the easel, this little study gave me fits over the weekend. I had a hell of a time making it work. Finally, after editing out some of the trees I had originally painted it, the scene seems to fit together much better.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Goofing Off!

For the first time in weeks, the weather dummies had predicted a day above the 50° mark. After working on my taxes for a couple of days (still not done!) and spinning my wheels with a painting currently on the easel, I needed a break. It took a few phone calls the night before to wrangle a fishing partner, but with that out of the way, I put my fishing bag in the truck anticipating the next day's adventure.

I let Otis the Wonder Dog out at 7am and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. The thermometer read 15°! Are you kidding me?! As I poured my first cup of coffee, I was happy for both the warmth it offered and the fact that BT wouldn't be arriving for a few hours. I was keeping my fingers crossed the air would at least reach the freezing mark by then.
Neither of us were absolutely hell bent on fishing until things began to warm a bit. On the way to the river we stopped here and there checking other streams, looking for turkey sign, and generally goofing off the way outdoor types do when there's time to kill.

Once we were on the water, we fished hard. We always do. And I'm not ashamed to say that after 5 hours of wading, casting, changing flies, and trudging along the stream bank, BT caught the only fish we saw all day.
When we'd both had enough, we pealed off our waders next to the truck. It finally felt like the temperature was near 50° and the warm sun felt good on my back. For the next hour we sat on the tailgate of the truck, drank a cold beer, and laughed about stories of misadventure in years past. Tree swallows checked out nearby bluebird boxes, to a serenade of spring peepers and a lone Canada goose was already on a nest within sight of our position. It was perfect.
It's funny how there's a necessary process to times like that. You can't just jump right into a tailgate powwow without first going through the preliminary actions... be they fishing, hunting, painting, whatever. It just doesn't work that way. But the entire day was leading up to that moment on the tailgate of the truck when we clanked beer bottles and BT said around his cigar, "This is quite a day, eh Bortzie?"
Quite a day indeed. Thanks BT. I needed that.

Monday, April 1, 2013


"Radiant" 6x8 acrylic
I finally got around to finishing this study I started a week or so ago. Previously, I posted an image of the quick underpainting for this piece and talked about how that process helps move the finished painting in the desired direction. There are a lot of pinks, purples, and blues in the shadows of the owl's "white" plumage. I learned a lot putting paint on this small piece, but that's the point... right?