This is my latest woodcut for “Art in the Park”, a festival in Tecumseh, MI on June 8th and 9th. After this dries it will be hand painted with watercolor. I hand pressed this print using Akua intaglio ink on Japanese Shin-Torinoko paper.
I really dont like labels. But if I had to classify myself as a fisherman, I would say I was a Pike fisherman. I enjoy Bass fishing. I enjoy trout fishing. But I love Pike fishing. In the winter I love catching Pike on a tip-up. I love bringing them in by hand…feeling the weight of the fish. At first I was fascinated by their appearance; forward facing eyes and razor sharp teeth. Later in life I began to appreciate their adaptability. They can survive where others cannot. Pike fishing is much different than trout fishing. For one the environment is different. The rivers and lakes in Lenawee County are too warm for trout. It’s a harsh environment to live. Rivers here are rarely used for recreation. They are a place to drain a field to maximize crop production. Many are inundated with pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers. It’s a miracle anything survives in our rivers. But incredibly fish do survive..and E. Lucius is one of them. Secondly, Pike fishing requires hardware. The flies are BIG and meaty. Leave your 4 wt at home. You’ll need a powerful rod to cast big flies and land monster Pike.
Getting to small creeks like the Bean can sometimes be a challenge. There are no trails or walking paths, no TU signs pointing the way, no benches to rest or public accesses. Along the Bean there are waist high stinging nettles. I tried to stomp them down to protect my bare legs. I climbed over a fallen cottonwood to get to the river. I jumped in and flushed two Kingfishers. They scolded me as they flew upstream. I looked down and noticed muddlers and crawfish darting away. I pulled out my flybox and tied on a conehead muddler. The water felt cool on my legs in the 90 degree heat. Wading upstream was impossible…too many downed trees. So I worked my way downstream. The sandy bottom made it easy. I cast into every deep pool I could. I had a few Pike chase my fly but none would take it. Other pools were covered by fallen trees or overhanging vegetation. After an hour of snagging branches on my back casts I gave up. I waited at the bridge for my friends to return. Sherm caught one Pike. Stuart got skunked. I managed to land a decent sunfish while I waited for them.
Bean Creek runs through Hudson, MI in southwest Lenawee County. For more information about this beautiful watershed visit the Bean/Tiffin Watershed Coalition Website.
Due to the wind I decided to spend the day indoors to crank out the final prints for this wood block. You might notice this print has fewer cut marks. That’s because I decided to cut them a tad deeper than the first run. Concerning the process, I almost always print on Rives BFK and this one was no different. I used Daniel Smith water soluable ink (thalo green mixed with thalo blue). The digital image was tinted green using iPhoto. I’ll let these prints dry about 10 days before I attempt to paint them with watercolor. At this point I don’t have a color scheme in mind. I’m leaning toward painting each one differently.
While this print is drying I’m starting a new project. It involves Zinnia. That’s all I will say for now. Since this is another wedding project you wont see any pictures until the bride to be approves.
Blue Damsel Lotus, Zinnia, and White Crowned Frostic will be on display at Hidden Lake Gardens in mid-June.
Concerning sales, framing will be done at Dexter Picture Frame Co. Prints will be uploaded to Etsy sometime this summer. Pending approval I would like to take a few framed prints to sell at The Side Door Gallery, The Boulevard Market and The Book Abbey.
I’ve tied enough dainty little Catskill flies. It’s time for some Bass popper mothras. I love trout, but I was never very good at long distance love affairs. Where I live…Bass and Pike grow big enough to scare the kiddies off the lake after dark. I have to keep my Bass flies in their own box. They like the taste of tiny little trout flies. I do love fishing for the big boys around here. It’s a whole different ball game. I’m stealthy and quiet on a trout stream. On Devil’s Lake it’s about the weaponry. Make sure there’s fuel in the boat. Is the battery charged? Rig up two fly rods. One for Pike and Bass and the other for Crappie and Gills. Start the engine. Run the bilge pump. Check the live well. Got the hemostats? You better unless you want to lose a finger on a Pike’s tooth. Where’s the net? Are the lights working? Got a headlight/flashlight? Life jackets, fire extinguisher, throwable…check. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. Especially when you get out before dusk. The waverunners are running home to mommy to make their curfew. The water lays down. The sunset is glowing over the marina. A live band starts to jam at the yacht club. You find your spot….out of the path of the pontoon parade….but not far enough. They still come too close. Inevitably a pontoon passenger says….”that guy is…..he’s flyfishing!” I’m a freak show until the sun goes down. I cast out over my favorite weed bed. Gills slap away at it. My hook is bigger than they are. Jerk it once…wait. Jerk it twice…wait. Let it sit. All is quiet. Then suddenly, there’s an explosion of water….like somebody dropped a bowling ball from the sky. Set the hook, feel the weight. He jumps a few times. I bring him in…slowly. I grab his lower lip, remove the fly and lift him up to get a better look. I let him go. No audience. No hurrahs! Just me, my boat, my fly rod, the moonlight and another memory.
What possesses a person to spend all day on a frozen lake? For me it’s the thought of pulling in a Northern Pike by hand. I don’t fish for perch, crappie or gills through the ice. I put out a few tip-ups and kick back. My nephew Garrett joined me this weekend. He brought his girlfriend who has never been ice fishing before. I wanted to show her a Pike badly. When a flag finally went up I was happy for me, but also happy that Lacie would get to see a Pike. But, fishing trips don’t always end happily. I lost the Pike when bringing him in. Actually, I think when he bolted for the weeds the line tangled and probably ripped the minnow out before I even had a chance to set the hook. When I did set the hook it felt like a snag, and not that noticable throb that you feel when you hook a Pike. I’ll add another chapter to my book titled, “The one that got Away”. It’s good cold therapy anyway. My house doesn’t feel cold anymore. It feels comfortably warm, and I know I’ll sleep good tonight.
“Night Heron”, Linocut, 7×8
This is the lino that I cut on the Friday of the Artalicious Festival.
This design was originally tried as a glaze on a vase during a collaboration with James Freeman. But the design melted during firing. So here it is again in lino. I really like this one. I used Akua Color again and it is great. I think I found a new ink. The paper is Rives BFK. I use a Richeson Baby Press for printing. I’m not sure I will color this one. I like it just the way it is…but who knows. I change my mind a lot.
The inspiration for this design comes from the AuSable River, the summer moon over Devils Lake, moonlight and crickets.