The Process

My works are hand crafted, one-of-a-kind creations and fall into two categories. The first being realistic, full dimension and presented on driftwood. The other is stylized realistic emerging from driftwood. These pieces show portions of the fish usually the head and sides and sometimes the tail.

My realistic works are carved from Tupelo wood. I order these precut to my needed dimensions. The pectoral and pelvic fins are also carved from this wood. The illustrations here show the process of a realistic work to the primer coat. The most tedious part is creating the illusion of scales. Trout scales are small, thus the process is more of texturing than scaling. This consists of hundreds of diagonal lines, then cross hatching. This creates a realistic look and feel that elevates my works from the ordinary.

The painting process is two fold. I use the airbrush for the foundation colors and then detail with a hand brush. The final step is a clear coating to create the “wet look”.

Now, the fun part: driftwooding! Out of the studio and on to the lake. About 20 minutes from our house is Center Hill Reservoir, an impounded portion of the Caney Fork River. This lake is surrounded by all kinds of Tennessee hardwoods. Because the dam produces electricity, the water level constantly changes from high to low. When up, it gathers roots, deadfall and all kinds of goodies. When the level recedes, these accumulate in coves and gravel bars. When I go driftwooding I’m looking for three things: a piece that wants to be a fish when it grows up, a piece that’s already a fish trying to get out, and pieces with character, unusual shape with a flow that I can picture for one of my realistic pieces.

A beautiful fish carving is still just a fish. When put on a piece of driftwood it’s just a fish on a stick. The artistry is in the presentation. I try to create the illusion of motion by having the fish flow with the character of the wood, that fish is doing something, it’s headed for a nymph on a rock, or emerging to a mayfly; it has a purpose. The only fish I present in a level attitude is a big Brown Trout, lurking under a log, looking over the menu swimming by. I love creating stylized works that are truly one-of-a-kind hand sculptured pieces of art; they move me. There’ll never be a piece just like the one I just completed! I like that, and others do also — I sell a lot of them.