Collector’s Focus: Sporting Art
In 1653 Izaak Walton published The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation. Its subhead reads, “Being a Discourse on Fish & Fishing, not Unworthy the Perusal of Most Anglers.” He continued to add to it for 25 years. Walton’s philosophy was, quite simply, “God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling.”
Anglers find their favorite spots, then familiarize themselves with the time of day, temperature and light. They are acutely aware of the environment and become one with it—a natural experience that is becoming unknown to many.
Brett Smith writes, “I have always loved the classic sporting scene. One that puts the viewer in a place and time that may be gone but not forgotten. These are the places that generations before us took for granted, that are now being covered over with urban sprawl. In a way, I was documenting a dying tradition, a common pastime, that is succumbing to an urbanized society not interested in putting down their technological diversions.”
In his painting, Spring Creek in Summer, the angler’s knowledge, skill and patience pay off. Smith began his career as an illustrator and turned to easel painting 25 years ago. Inspired by Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, he says, “What is important in these outdoor paintings is mood, a feeling of how things were and still can be. The idea is to convey the natural ruggedness of the sport without missing the subtle nuances that make the experience personal.”
The fruit of the angler’s labors is celebrated in George Northup’s bronze sculptures as in his table lamp God’s River Brook Trout. He had been a sales executive with a pharmaceutical company. After he married his wife, Kay, they
moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where they ran float trips on the Snake River. He was also a trout fishing guide in the summer. Northup (1940-2017) was a fishing buddy of the wildlife painter Bob Kuhn and recalled, “Bob and
I were fishing for trout on the Snake River. He was wonderful at fly fishing. I knew some of the hot spots on the river. Our comradeship allowed us to enjoy the fishing and to talk about technical things. He was only 100 feet away when a group of otters came around the bend and kind of exploded in front of him. He sat down and drew on a napkin what they had done. He handed it to me and said ‘Here’s your next sculpture.’ I said ‘Why don’t you do it?” But nothing ever came of it.”
The moods of the environment affect the quality of the fishing and inspire the artist to capture them.
Thomas Aquinas Daly’s watercolor, A Light Breeze, recalls the watercolors of fishermen in the Adirondacks by Winslow Homer. The breeze lightly ripples the water in the low keyed painting of fishermen on a lake. For many years Daly worked in the commercial printing business, turning full time to painting in 1981. His subtle paintings of the landscape
are meditative in the way that the sportsman and the artist become one with it. Daly writes, “It is never my intention to merely describe the physical attributes of a place. Instead,
I strive to capture its total essence—the visceral feeling that it evokes within me.”
Brent Cotton’s Solitude of the River epitomizes the feelings of Walton and Daly, as well as his own. Like Northup, he was a hunting and fishing guide. He now lives in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana near fine trout streams. Living briefly in Hawaii where he experienced the effects of moist atmosphere and back in Montana where he experienced the otherworldly effect of the smoke of wildfires, he turned to the moody, ethereal style of the 19thcentury luminists. Unlike many of the luminists, Cotton revels in paint and its application. There is a vitality to his meditations.
Throughout the pages of this special section, collectors will find examples of sporting art from premier Western art galleries and artists from across the country.
Chip Brock’s Meat and Potatoes series illustrates the bounty provided from a day on the hunt. “Two constants in my life since I was very young have been hunting and creating art. As a result of those two passions, wildlife has generally been my favorite subject matter... Two of my newest pieces meld my love of hunting and painting still lifes,” says Brock. “These paintings celebrate the hunt and the amazing table fare that success provides.” Dall Sheep, for instance, depicts the skull of a sheep on a hardy table of scattered vegetables. “I am a lifelong hunter,” says C. Edward Anderson, who has been drawing and painting for more than 25 years. His sporting art often features the canine partners that team up with hunters. “I believe that hunting is a way of knowing nature, and dogs,
with their feet in both worlds, mediate the interaction between human and nature,” says Anderson. “I try to capture this interaction in art and show the role gundogs play in the process...my goal is to show the viewer something that they will recognize as true, something that when they see it they will say, ‘Yes, I’ve been there.’”
Douglas B. Clark also shares a love of the outdoors and an appreciation for sporting dog breeds. “The Labrador retriever is a favorite breed of mine as both a hunting companion and a sculpture subject. My own labs and those of friends and family serve as my models,” says the artist, whose bronze on granite sculpture depicts a lab ready to catch an object coming its way.
The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, February 15 to 17, 2019, represents a world renowned collection of wildlife art from nearly 100 painters and sculptors. The 2019
featured artist is Lou Pasqua, and guest artists include Sandy Scott and Walter Matia. “SEWE welcomes 20 new artists with works ranging from ancient cave art to modern interpretations of sporting art,” shares SEWE art curator Natalie Henderson.
The watercolor art of Charleston-based artist Paul Puckett is powerful—natural splotches of water can be seen in his fishing scenes and other depictions of bodies of water, adding a layer of intrigue. “Anytime I am on the water or in the field, there is not a moment that goes by where I don’t foresee some sort of picture that can and should be made,” says Puckett. Turnaround Time and Last Boat Out both feature ominous storm clouds looming over the lake during a fishing excursion.
“Sporting art, like Western art, is art that tells a story. It tells the story of traditions, pastimes and activities that are shared and passed down among families as well as to people new to the sports,” says Clark. “I would advise collectors to select art that speaks to them and that helps them to share and tell
their own stories.”
2. Gerald Peters Gallery, A Light Breeze, watercolor, 10¼ x 13", by Thomas Aquinas Daly. 3. Sportsman’s Gallery & Paderewski Fine Art, Spring Creek in Summer, oil on linen, 14 x 18", by Brett Smith. 4. Insight Gallery, God’s River Brook Trout, bronze, 25 x 33 x 15", by George Northup.5. Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, On the Move, acrylic on board, 16 x 25", by Lou Pasqua.
13. Paul Puckett, Turnaround Time, watercolor, 14 x 20" 14. Paul Puckett, Last Boat Out,watercolor, 15 x 22" 15. C. Edward Anderson, Carried on the Wind, oil, 11 x 14"16. Douglas B. Clark, Incoming!, bronze on granite, ed. of 75, 4 x 5 x 3" 17. Jay Moore, Narrow Escape, oil on linen, 8 x 10"