Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring's sprung

I think we’ve finally sprung forward. The past week brought some of the prettiest – and warmest – weather we’ve enjoyed in some time; the trees are budding, some have sprouted blooms and flowers are popping up everywhere. As I type this, I’m watching a pair of bluebirds build a nest in our bluebird box in the backyard. A brown-headed cowbird keeps trying to interrupt the construction, but so far, the blue team is winning.

When spring arrives, it just seems like everyone’s attitudes change for the better. This year, as I’ve documented and lamented, we suffered through an unusually cold and dreary winter season. This resulted in cabin fever for more than a few of us, especially since even when the lakes thawed and the rivers resumed normal flows, the fishing still sucked.

But, dark and cold days resulted in some prime time to work on some artwork. I just finished a series of commissions for one of my repeat-customers/collectors. Matt is an obsessed duck-hunter (just a note on that … there are no casual duck-hunters; in fact, there is only one tribe of sportsmen/sportswomen who are more dedicated and obsessed with their pursuit than fly-anglers … and that’s duck-hunters; on the very few days that are far too miserable for us to go fishing, I guarantee there’s a group of duck-hunters huddled up in a blind on some lake or river, sitting silently in near-frozen water, shotguns in hand and alternating sips of liquor with puffs on a duck call as they carefully watch their flotilla of decoys try to lure in a couple of unsuspecting mallards; it’s an impressive insanity, and for some reason, one that I envy … which says boatloads about my character and personality). In the midst of our winter of discontent, he felt that the weather in middle Tennessee wasn’t awful enough for duck hunting, so he and three buddies (including his dad, which proves this obsession is genetic) headed north to New England to hunt sea ducks.

The hunting wasn’t great, as birds were few and far between and Matt’s group of hunters encountered weather even worse than they expected. However, they had a big, big time and managed to shoot a few common eiders, and Matt wanted me to use my artistic ability to commemorate the trip. In particular, he wanted a portrait of four eiders, which symbolized both the experience of hunting on Cape Cod and the great fun he had with his friends and his dad. Here’s the result:

This was one of my bigger paintings (22 x 30), but it was a joy to create. Thankfully, Matt was stoked about the finished product, which made me feel even better about the days I put into the composition.

With only a month-and-a-half away from Troutfest 2010, I’ve turned my attention back to trout, and I’m working on some original paintings that will be revealed at the event. If you can make it – the annual fly-fishing expo takes place in Townsend, Tenn., at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on May 15-16. It’s a fantastic gathering, punctuated by the presence of fly-fishing royalty: Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser and Joe Humphreys. As we get closer to the event, I’ll blog a little more about the details … maybe even offering a hint or two at the paintings I’ll reveal in May.

In the meantime, please enjoy the spring, get out and fish, work in the yard or just do something outside. Yeah, your allergies may go nuts, but the fresh, pollen-filled air will invigorate you … I promise. If you go fly-fishing, I hope you catch a rainbow as pretty as the one I lucked out and caught a couple of weeks ago on the Caney Fork. It was the only one of the day for me (the Caney’s going through some rough times right now), but it was a beautiful fish which fell for an articulated zoo cougar my Dad tied for me … which made it even more special.

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