Monday, January 29, 2018

Life’s reflection and more Catskill watercolors:


A question living creatures often ponder, this one at the bottom of a stream with reflections of a clear net--- from above--- all about.  Why, why am I here with a fly stuck in my jaw?  Why can’t I move freely about and why is that unfamiliar round thing behind me?  Why are the lines of refracted light in such odd patterns?  Why are you and I so up close and personal?  But perhaps most pressing, why are you anglers so in love with me most of all?

A Catskill Hollow:

What is it about a hidden Catskill hollow some find so alluring?  Is it because nature fondly calls these places home?  Could it be many are the birthplaces of mighty waterways?  Perhaps the small wild trout have something to do with this affection?  Maybe on this misty, foggy, drizzly day, the very elements of life are alive in this damp, cool ravine?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Catskill brook trout:  Salvelinus fontinalis, a native New York trout, although taxonomically it’s actually a char and not a true trout.  Historically brook trout were the only Catskill trout, but nowadays brookies might not be the largest nor most cunning fish in these mountains.  However, there’s little doubt brook trout are still the prettiest of the bunch, especially in autumn spawning attire.  Typically brook trout require the coldest and purest of waters, even if it’s a little acidic.  As such development, pollution, and competition from other trout species tend to reduce the brook trout’s current range to headwater streams and small tributaries.  Typically a six-inch Catskill brook trout might be a decent size while a foot-long fish a real trophy, though in ponds and lakes brook trout can grow in stature.

How can any serious fly-fishing fanatic not love the bodily colors of a wild Catskill brook trout?  These vibrant fish are both the hunted and the hunters.

The hunter:

This trout is poised in attack mode, patiently postured for a fleeting morsel to approach within striking range.


Confused by the sting of a Brown Bivisible stuck in its jaw and a slight tug from a tippet--- working to redeploy this fish from the creek bottom’s safety, it fins in bewilderment.

A Gunks brookie:

Not all wild regional brook trout are only found in the Catskills, some might make their homes under the shadows of the Shawangunks, in white conglomerate bedrock streambeds.

Hardy and the brook trout:

Perhaps one of the most prized fly reels ever manufactured, a Hardy reel and a brook trout make unlikely unwater acquaintances.

Traver’s trout:

This watercolorist only paints original venues, refusing to mimic the work of another artist.  However, a persistent husband pleaded that she paint this scene for him, so she acquiesced.  The work was originally portrayed by Samuel A. Kilbourne (1836-1881) and later graced the covers of old Orvis catalogs and Robert Traver’s book, Trout Madness.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Recent landscapes:  We travelled a bit this past autumn, with various watercolor and oil landscapes below inspired by our journeys.

Cape Elizabeth is home to the Portland Head Lighthouse, located on the rugged Maine coastline at Fort Williams Park.  This Lighthouse has a rich history dating back to 1776 when revolutionary American soldiers stood watch for British invaders.  Construction of the Lighthouse itself began in 1787 and grew incrementally with time.  Currently the Lighthouse is owned by the Town of Cape Elizabeth, with the U.S. Coast Guard maintaining the actual light and fog signal.  The watercolor below is:

Portland Head Lighthouse:

Dark Hollow Falls Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park.  Much of it traverses along the Hogcamp Branch of the Rose River, and is roughly a six mile roundtrip circuit located in close proximity to Big Meadows Lodge.  The falls itself is roughly a seventy foot drop in elevation.  The watercolor below is:

Dark Hollow Falls:

Clermont Manor originated in 1728 by Robert Livingston and was later home to seven generations of Livingstons until 1962.  Originally it was comprised of 13,000 acres, but the family also owned over a half-million acres in Dutchess County and the Catskill Mountains.  The word “Clermont” has French derivatives meaning “clear mountains” inspired by the scenic view of the Catskills from the family estate.  It is a New York State Historic Site and also a listed National Historic Landmark.  The oil below is:

Clermont, 11x14:

Located on the Clermont State Historic Site are several gardens.  The watercolor below is the gate leading into, and from, on such a space.

The Gate:

Perhaps no exercise is more invigorating, or rewarding, than a purposed stroll on a crisp, autumn day.  The watercolor below is:

Autumn walk:

Catskill Rivers:  Catskill rivers have long inspired artists, anglers, and woodsmen entrepreneurs alike, lest we not forget the thirsty needs of New York City residents.  The locales of both watercolors below are found upriver of two New York City Catskill reservoirs.  One is a stream with many names, included in Richard Lionel De Lisser’s Picturesque Ulster as Cascade Brook.  While an image of the second graces the cover of Ed van Put’s celebrated masterpiece Trout Fishing in the Catskills, and was home to such legendary anglers as Theodore Gordon and Edward R. Hewitt.

Upper falls, Cascade Brook:

West Branch Neversink:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

At the river’s edge:  Upstream, perhaps a connotation of flowing water, moving in one direction, always in motion, no matter what.  Sometimes currents are clear and gentle; at other times they may be turbid or irritated.  In November of 2016 when the latter happened NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed the Shandaken Tunnel due to muddy discharges into Esopus Creek.  DEC took this measure to protect spawning brown trout, and DEC prohibited fishing in the Esopus, below its junction with the Tunnel.

However, some anglers still yearned to fish, so they ventured upstream of the Tunnel, to continue enjoying the Esopus Creek where fishing was allowed. 

In his excellent book of angling stories--- At the River’s Edge, Jerry Kustich wrote the following, “And, above all, I will continue to follow the road that leads to water, because I believe---with all my heart--- that everything does make sense at the river’s edge.”

The watercolor below is at the river’s edge, looking upstream into the Esopus, behind the Shandaken Town Hall.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Recent watercolors:  Below are several recent watercolors, of several places forever changed in 2011 by Hurricane Irene.  Some of these images are now only burnt into the fabric of one’s mind, a digital Jpeg file, or perhaps the brushstrokes of an artist’s painting.

The Haunted House Pool is located on the West Branch of the Neversink at Frost Valley.  The logging bridge serves as a gateway to the Western Model Forest.  Sadly this pool is only a shadow of itself these days.

Haunted House Pool:

This U&D 30 bridge was built in the early 1900s, and at one time crossed the Esopus Creek downstream of NYC’s Five Arch Bridge and upstream of the Ashokan Reservoir and Chimney Hole.  Not only was it a favorite spot for anglers, but local high school students might sometimes be found jumping from it, into the cool waters of the Esopus Creek below.


White Pond dates back to c1990 and is located at Frost Valley YMCA.  It was dug out by the Ulster County Highway Department, in need of gravel to repair UC 47.  Its construction was a win-win for all involved as it soon became one of the finest wild brook trout ponds in all of the Catskills.  Hurricane Irene forever changed that.

White Pond summer:

Most of the upper reaches of the Neversink are heavily posted, however there is a very small parcel of NYS Forest Preserve to be found on the East Branch of the Neversink.  The landscape of the East Branch below was the outcome of a “plein air - date day”, where one individual painted while the other flyfished for trout.

Date day:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Old landmarks:  The watercolors below portray old landmarks, no longer to be found.

The Keene Valley red barn was once located in the Adirondacks near the intersections of Routes 73 and 9N with a High Peaks backdrop.  It was built in the 1950s by Reginald Whitney and used to house cows.  In December of 2016 it was taken down by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation after being declared a hazard.

Keene Valley red barn (sold):

The Bush Kill pump house was once located in the Catskills in West Shokan, NY on the Bush Kill Creek, a tributary to the Ashokan Reservoir.  Hurricane Irene, an historic weather event that took its toll on the Esopus Creek river valley, carried away the old stone building.

Bush Kill pump house (Sold):