The Challenge

In the depths of my mind there are the adventures of growing up carefree in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest.  During the summer almost everyday that I could get out of the house I would pedal my bike a mile down the road to a creek and fly fish for trout.  Testing out flies I had just tied, Yellow Caddis Bucktail, Ants, Royal Coachmans, Marty’s Ghost, Adams, and Black Gnat.  Cutthroat, rainbows, dollies were the majority of the catch, and would take a fly with relative ease if the stream’s runoff was cooperating.


One of these excursions found me down at the Sauk River with a hit of opaque snowmelt coming off the mountains that are the backdrop of what I call home.  My good friend and fishing partner JP wanted us to test the waters behind his house where his older brother was casting a line.  As we approached his brother he had just landed a small trout and released it using a Black Gnat pattern. I asked, “Why are you fishing a Black Gnat pattern?”  His response (that I can remember) “The darker pattern shows up better against the blue milk colored water, therefore the trout can see it better and are more apt to strike.” Almost thirty years later lets revisit this dream with a work of art and a challenge for its creation.

I was heading through Helena, Montana when the message came through about a resin piece that I had on my site.  It was the art patron I had grown up with and had that conversation about the Black Gnat, so many years ago.  Always looking forward to the next work of art I wanted to push the next idea.  Little did I know he had DSC_4845ideas of his own about what he wanted with the art that had been in my repertoire up to this point.  “I want a fly cast painting and a resin painting that can be separate but go together as one piece”.  Holding the phone away from my face like “what I am experiencing here” the intervention of wherever these ideas come from started to flow into the creative imagination that is the foundation for this adventure.  A fire was lit and momentum gained.  A resin piece that is separate from any foundation had only been accomplished on a very small scale.  I had dreamt about a larger scale piece and this would be that moment.  Having it be a separate piece but the same would lie in the creation of the frame.  The fly cast painting scales are set to the inch and the only other problem to overcome would be making the resin frame to approximately the same dimensions.  From previous works being routered slots on old rustic barn wood, this frame would take on the same utilitarian DSC_4849purpose to hold a picture with a “cross” shape with two conjoining pieces.  There are two different slots for the fly cast painting to be over the top of the resin or the resin to be over the top of the fly cast.  The river painting was watered down to capture the colors of the river and attempt a translucent approach to the Lexan surface.

In the end, at this artwork’s completion, it can be turned and hung on the wall and shown 32 different ways.  I have yet to see a painting that can do that until this happened.  The possibilities are endless with this format as other works are guaranteed to follow.

A Black Gnat is embedded into the work, the fly cast takes part on the same river from thirty years ago and a senior in high school that would challenge his underclassmen is still posing situations to overcome and changing the world.

Thank you.


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