Saturday, November 22, 2008
This is not the first iteration. I've been fascinated by the yearly trout run since I first noticed them. They gather late in the autumn, in a clear cold creek that runs through the Hollidge Tract. The water rises barely above the knees but even on the hottest summer days it remains chill. Sometime after Thanksgiving, if you lean over the culvert, you are sure to see them holding their place in the fast running water. Your shadow and footsteps will frighten them into dark places; you need to be stealthy to see them. You need to observe. The river bottom is clean rough sand and rounded pebbles and stones. The trout blend in. It takes time to recognize what you see, but once you do, welcome to another world. With a little foresight, you'll bring binoculars and you see they are beautiful. Their fins are fox red marked with white blazes and black lines. Their backs are dark and contain the patterns of the stones they glide across. These are brook trout.
I'm not sure what exactly it is that holds me in such fascination. Perhaps it is their yearly return in time with the rhythm of the season. Or maybe its the way they act and react in unison, all of one mind, and yet each is led by its own thoughts and desires. But what I think fascinates me most of all is that to them I am but a quivering shadow, and though they are but metres away, they are worlds apart.
Image: ACEO, 2.5" x 3.5" Strathmore 300 series bristol, watercolour, printers ink, hand-pulled print. This is not the first the first version. The first version is a letterbox slumbering in the woods (google letterboxing if you really want to know). The second version was the same scene, done on holiday after seeing brook trout in Chickanishing Creek. That one was done in crayola marker and sent as a postcard to a friend. I keep doing the same scene over again in a variety of ways. I don't think I'll stop. Here I'm showing you the full sheet of paper. It's the first time I've soaked and stretched bristol. It wasn't happy with the process. It pilled. It streaked. I layered two salty washes of watercolour on top. The first being cadmium yellow and cadmium red. The second being mostly prussian blue, with just about anything else flicked in. Basically this was a kitchen sink process, as I just did a bunch of things to the paper. Also, literally, I did this over the kitchen sink. My wet work is usually done in the basement, but it was sunny and I didn't want to miss a single ray of it, so put my board across the sink and went at it. I almost didn't want to print on the result. I've decided I like using bristol very much for watercolour. The pills dissappeared when dry, and the paper is in good shape. Yes it complains when wet, but it gets over it. It holds patterns very nicely.