Saturday, December 6, 2008

My First Fish


I've been doing numerous fish motifs of late, and so thought to go back to the beginning. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the crayola crayon plein air pickerel portrait circa 1975 so I had to whip up something entirely new for this entry. I sure miss the newsprint pickerel image, but I tore the house upside down and couldn't find it. In my minds eye it was far superior to anything I've done since. I was only about ten years old, and I can still see every detail, all the green gold scales in place, and it 's tortured fishy eye staring up at me. You see, I did the portrait on the boat, with a freshly caught, live, and hoping to live longer fish. The memory is oddly crisp.
It was my first and last fishing trip with my Dad. It was boring! I had begged, wheedled and whined to be allowed on board, and finally had my way. My parents boat was a large aluminum rowboat with an eggshell blue interior. The outboard motor was Johnson Seahorse, 12 horsepower. This left me with plenty of imaginative fodder as I would sit up front and visualize 12 foaming amphibious equines frothing and straining at their traces. In my mind I wrestled and guided their power, holding invisible reins (a rough rope). But the fishing trip was not like the evening sunset tours I'd been on before. Then I would sit up front and daydream myself Poseidon's daughter. The relentless drone of the outboard engine, loud as it was, only heightened the experience with its mesmerizing monotony that drowned out the ordinary sounds of summer. The shoreline would power by, ribbons of brown cabins, green trees and pink granite. I would perch up front staring down into the black deeps of Horseshoe Lake seeing endless darkness interspersed with white and yellow lilies and jade green weeds.
But the ride to the fishing hole afforded little time for daydreams. It was less than two minutes before the anchor (a concrete filled javex bottle) was tossed down into the water. It was a hot bright day and the air was still. Nothing moved excepting my young restless self to the great annoyance of the avid fishermen (my father and uncle). My attempt to alleviate the tedium with conversation was immediately shushed. When I squirmed in my seat I was told to be still. However, I was well armed with a block of newsprint paper and box of crayons. The first fish caught was my subject--alive and destined for dinner. I can't quite remember if I was thinking, as I drew, of how soon this life would be cut short. I do remember carefully attempting to capture every ribbon of colour and glitter of scale, knowing how brief the opportunity was. Supposedly children have no real understanding of the finality of death, but I don't recall having any illusions of a piscine heaven awaiting the gasping pickerel fish. I was all too aware that it was here today and gone forever tomorrow. Whatever I failed to capture in crayon would be reduced to scales and scraps and fillets by nightfall and gone from the world forever.
The irony of my lost artwork does not escape me either.

Image: watercolour, oil pastel & coloured pencil on 10" x 6" Strathmore bristol.

5 comments:

Michelle (artscapes) said...

Another beautiful piece!
You have a wonderful storytelling style... I quite enjoyed it!
I think it was around 1975 in Muskoka when I had my first fishing trip in an aluminum boat similar to what you described! I did manage to catch a trout that I soon adopted as a pet making it difficult to accept that he was dinner...

I see an illustrated book in your future... I know I'd want a copy!

Jennifer Rose said...

This is such a lovely story :D Full of such great images. You really should think about putting all of your writing into a little book with illustrations :D

First fish I caught in a little aluminium boat was a little Sun Fish. Didn't eat him though, tossed him back. After I cut open my fingers on his fins :/

Cat-in-a-Box said...

I'd argue that neither the pickerel or the crayon picture of it are truly 'gone forever' - you just brought them back to life for everyone reading your blog!

Thank you!

kaslkaos said...

Oh man, sorry I took so long to get back to you. I did a large pc piece that didn't work out so feeling stuck...that said, thank you so much for you comments.
Especially shared fish stories. Something about fish. I remember the scary thorns on sunfish, but they are fun when you just stand in the water. You can hand feed them.
Cat-in-the-box, the layers of irony just keep piling up. Writing this post made me think of the reasons we do art. Are we attempting to preserve bits of our souls?

Michelle (artscapes) said...

I would say that is exactly what we are doing....

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