Classics of the Pacific North West
As a kid in Terrace, BC in the early-to-mid 1960s, we learned to fish on the creeks in the area and on the Skeena River. For the most part, we used salmon roe and worms as bait, and the goal was cutthroat trout. They fought well, they ate well, and they looked tough with that slash of red just under the gills.
We didn’t have lots of money when I was a kid, so whatever fishing gear I had was what I could buy from the money I got collecting beer bottles in the neighbourhood. Our equipment was crude, we learned by trial and error, but not much could contain our enthusiasm.
Those were the days that I’m sure a kid couldn’t get away with now - we watched black bears scatter up Thornhill Creek ahead of us, we gawked in wide-eyed wonder at the red and bloody scar on Doug Hougland where a lamp-ray sucked onto his leg as he crossed the creek, and we slashed our way up the gullies lined with painful Devil’s Club, and ate soggy sandwiches held by fish-smelly hands in the rain under the spreading protection of majestic west coast forest. This was my introduction to fishing from my Dad and from our Boy Scout Leader, a trapper named Les Watmough.
This was our Boy Scout Troop (Les Watmough in the background) fishing at Red Sand Lake. (me in the middle)
When our family moved to Kelowna later in the 1960s, I was in high school, and all the guys I hung out with had fly fishing gear. Soon enough, I was out on the myriad upland lakes in the area learning the finer skills of fly fishing and admiring the delicate nuances of one fly pattern over another.
Around that time, I also began to sketch and paint, and over the years there has been a kind of conjunction between the fly fishing and the art. From the sketches of the lake settings and the camp sites to now.... with this new series of watercolour sketches of the unique fly patterns that have kept my enthusiasm up for the great sport of fishing.
This series of paintings grew out a recent fly fishing trip to Beaver Lake in the hills above and behind the Kelowna Airport with one of those wonderful high school buddies of mine who taught me to fly fish. We hadn’t fished together for years, and we came away from the day’s outing with 4 wonderful rainbow trout each and some even newer memories of the quiet camaraderie of those wild places.
Soon, I was back in the studio and brought along my small tackle box to rummage the contents - I’d been painting old wooden fishing plugs, and I got to thinking about painting the exquisite patterns of the flies in that ratty old tackle box of mine. The flies I had were, for the most part, pretty ancient to say the least. It was clear I needed some clean new flies to work with.
I drove off to Trout Waters Fly and Tackle, and in no time had the stock I needed to get going on this new set of watercolour paintings. I wanted the classic patterns - all those patterns that I remembered as a kid learning to fly fish at Beaver Lake with those old boats with their 2-stoke outboards that made it ‘interesting’ to try and troll a fly....and Postil Lake where a high school friend’s family (Rod Krimmer) owned the lodge, and Doreen Lake where one of our high school ‘lifetime sports’ classes camped for a weekend.
This series of paintings grew from there to capture a set of flies that I have used successfully for decades.
The single series of paintings helps to feature the individual fly pattern, and each piece is painted into a kind of halo or silhouette to focus the image more completely. The background of each is painted uses a rich ‘Deep Sap Green’ that, in the end, tells more about the beautiful cold waters of those upland lakes of my youth.
The set of four fly patterns is rendered in the same general layout as the single pieces, but it collects a few of the patterns in comfortable horizontal format. I painted a few of these sets of four, and one of them I have taken into a Limited Edition Print, each signed and numbered, and each piece is printed using archival quality inks and paper for longevity. This is the work that holds the title of the series - ‘Classics of the Pacific North West’. All of the works come with their own signed Certificate of Authenticity.
All of the watercolour pieces in this series are painted on Arches, 100% cotton, 140 pound, cold pressed, watercolour paper that is archival/acid free. The works that are framed all have Museum-quality, acid free matting and backing.
I hope you enjoy this new series of original watercolour paintings that capture something of the special wilderness activities that have come to mark our region as a unique setting for the outdoor enthusiast, for the eager fly fisher, and for the collector of fine art.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me through my website at www.waynewilsonart.com where can also sign up for my newsletter.