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James Michael O'Brien

Email: jamesobrienart@yahoo.com
O'Brien Art, LLC

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Catch and Release...

August 24, 2018

For the past several years I have spent my summers living on Mayhew Island on Newfound Lake in Bristol, New Hampshire. The island is host to a rustic summer camp for at-risk youth and for those few months it pulls me away from my painting studio.

While working there, I would often begin the day by fishing the island's edge. There is so much to admire among the natural scenery. The tranquility of each morning would resonate in the glassy waters, lifting fog, and subtle glistening of the breaking sun. Loon calls and eagle sightings would enhance my experience and expand my understanding of being present.

I am reminded of the numerous summers spent at a family camp in southern Maine. A small white cabin with bird cutouts on blue painted shutters. The constant smell of fresh pine and campfires would rekindle memories and link these two places in my mind. 

While fishing, I will observe all the trees, stones, and clouds mirrored in the water only to become rapidly distorted by the splash of a leaping fish. And no matter how turbulent the surface would become, the water could return to a calm hiding any evidence of the previous encounter.

I see little difference between the art of catching a fish and the beginning of a painting.

It's calm at first, with the numbing stillness of a pristine white canvas, only to be shattered with the first brush stoke. With that first mark I don't think much about the color or composition, I just focus just breaking the surface. In that process am continuously amazed by what is revealed in the application of that first mark. In that instant, I am in a state of suspense and forced awake. Each following decision is like the act of false casting with a fly rod. A back and forth action aiming to extend further and create a flawless presentation. Sometimes I find myself dealing with a snag and have to untangle those issues along the way. 

I never aim to create a masterpiece, but ready to catch one if the opportunity swims by. If I am fortunate to find that a genius wanders close and tugs on the line, than I have truly connected with something greater and makes my pursuit worth while.  

Once that tug is revealed and I reel it in, is it worth releasing back into wild? Or should I keep working towards mounting it on a wall?

 



 

 




 

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