Saturday, May 31, 2014

Not Another Fishing Story

This week I painted two pieces really that took me down memory lane to my childhood growing up in Central Missouri.  My dear grandmother lived in a tiny community called Swedeborg that had a total population of about 300 I think and we lived there with her several times.  I would also visit and stay with her for weeks at a time.    As with many that lived there, fishing and hunting were a cheap source of entertainment and an activity that many of the residents enjoyed.  My grandmother adored fishing and since I adored my grandmother, fishing was a favorite activity for me growing up.  

"The Fishing Hole"  11x14 Acrylic

I decided to paint “The Fishing Hole” because the reference photo I was using had such great contrast between the sunny bank and the opposite shadowed river bank.  Partially through my painting I got excited when I decided to make my focal point and old forked stick left by some fisherman to hold his pole.   Now my grandmother would never prop up her pole because  part of the whole experience was to hold the rod in such a way that your right thumb had the fishing line resting across it as it came out of the reel.  This gave you the ability to "feel" the fish when they began to nibble at your bait rather than just watching the end of your pole.  If you felt that little tugging on the line you were to jerk your pole upward in hopes of hooking that fish before he discovered your hook.  

I have so many childhood memories connected to this simple activity.  Camping with my family where the Roubidoux joins the Gasconade River in Pulaski County near Waynesville, Missouri.  I can still hear my grandmother calling me her "little fishing buddy" as we sat on the shore for hours on end.  Come evening you could look up on the high ledge above the river and watch as the bats began to fly out of the *Roubidoux Cave.  They would dart around the river looking for their evening meal and I was amazed at their sonic radar abilities yet they often couldn't detect the fishing line and would fly into it. Having those bats flying into your fishing line was both thrilling and frightening at the same time.  My grandmother would tell me stories of men digging guano out of the cave.  Being scared of heights I would sit and stare up at that cave and wonder how anyone could be so brave as to try to climb up there; guano or no guano.

Most children can't sit still these days but if you wanted to be a good fisherman you had to be both still and quiet or you would be rebuked for "Scaring" the fish.  Needless to say that even at my young age I could sit there still as could be enjoying every minute spent whispering with my grandmother and imagining all the BIG ones".  I can't recall any particular birthday gifts I received in my childhood years with the exception of one.  My 9th birthday I was given my very own fishing pole.

My 9th Birthday and a Fishing Rod and Reel all my own!

"At the Rivers Bend"- 16x20 Acrylic

As it is with many of the painting I complete, I find that I make an emotional connection with it as I'm working on it.  Right away it became apparent that it was important for me to give this piece a story.    I could imagine this perfect little spot along this river to spend an afternoon with your favorite rod and a good book or in my case a sketch pad.  Both of these pieces will be available on my website at so be sure and use the link to check them out.
In a vertical bluff overlooking the junction of Roubidoux Creek and the Gasconade River is a cavern with a high, wide entrance giving access to a large chamber which has several smaller but well-lighted rooms opening into it. There was formerly a considerable depth of earth on the rock bottom, but most of it has been taken out for fertilizer. What is left is dry near the entrance, but wet farther in. Although it would make an ideal Indian home, being easy of access and within a few rods of the two streams, there could be found no indications of such habitation; and owing to the small amount of earth remaining, the presence of many large rocks, and the close proximity of a large club house on the public highway immediately in front, no excavation is possible.  A cairn on the point of the cliff over this cave has been completely demolished. (Fowke) (

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