This is a painting which in reality took me 4 years to complete. The original center panel of the Permit I began in Costa Rica and finished in New Hampshire. Although I have had a lot of offers on the initial painting, I held on to it mainly due to the fact that I knew I wanted to do something more with it but wasn't quite sure what. Plus I like having it on my wall because as others have said it is kind of like a mini vacation when you look at it.Over time, I had quite a few people suggest other fishing paintings such as a Bahamas Slam, Caribbean Slam etc including Bonefish and Tarpon but I always felt incorporating all 3 on one canvas might be a little too busy and what I was shooting for was tranquility in the painting. After all, whether fly fishing or spincasting remote flats, in crystal turquoise waters with a gentle trade wind breeze in the warm sun is a vision that puts me into something of a trance and I always find myself wanting to go back to that environment. So after having enough time to lose myself in the painting it one day dawned on me that instead of trying to stuff all 3 species of fish on to one canvas in an unnatural composition I might be able to add two more separate panels and producing a triptych, or a 3 canvas complete painting that not only incorporates all 3 species, but are each strong paintings individually as well.
Ideas are often much easier said than done, and although this was actually quite the challenge, it was a lot of fun to create and I am quite happy with the finished painting. Below are the stages from conception to finished painting of "A Place I would Rather Be" My largest painting to date, it measures 24" x 102" unframed or 2 x 8 feet, acrylic on stretched canvas.
Above is the initial composition sketch, including the center permit panel. I wanted to extend the painting on either side to include Bonefish and Tarpon, without them competing for attention or destroying the initial painting composition. What looked good to me at first in black and white soon revealed many obstacles, such as matching colors I used a few years ago, adding points of interest throughout the entire triptych without overdoing it on one panel and as I said also allowing each panel to have its own individual integrity so it could also stand on its own. Another problem I soon realized was that there have been many slight changes in how I approach my work now as opposed to then, such as brushstrokes, the way I see things etc.
Above is the painting about halfway through. Although I was liking where this was going, my horizon on the bonefish panel was tilted and not matching up properly. I also wanted to incorporate a little more atmospheric perspective with the archipelago of small islands giving them more depth and distance giving the feeling of the huge open uninhabited space I get when standing someplace like this. On the tarpon panel although it seemed to work horizontally for me and went with the rest, I found it a little too monotonous for my liking, and with the solid dark coral head behind the tarpon it kept pulling my eyes left and refused to let them wander around the whole composition. Also I wanted it to tell a little more of a story than just a couple fish slapped on a painting in the water blah blah BORING! Although there were many stages and screwups and changes, I was too into what I was doing to take any more pictures so without further ado below is the finished painting.
On the new tarpon painting I decided it might tell a better story and add a little more drama to the painting if instead of continuing the flats composition It might be more interesting to feature the tarpon along the edge of the drop off. I also found that the second tarpon was directing my eye off of the canvas so I decided to move it to the inside and make a third smaller on in the distance with the indication of a natural predator facing inwards to keep the eye wandering back into the piece. Then I added a few gulls and moved the foreground cloud so it could be seen through the water and the other major cloud would be relected on the surface.
On the Bonefish I wanted to keep the shallows, push some color in the foreground and some distance into the islands, again stopping the eye from wandering off the canvas by putting the impression of my sailboat on the horizon, which is how I plan to arrive in a place I would rather be the next time I am there.
And of course the original "A Place I Would Rather Be" permit painting. Hope you like it, happy fishing and safe travels!
" A Place I Would Rather Be " 24" x 102 " triptych, acrylic on canvas. Flyfishing, Fishing art, original available as well as full size limited original canvas reproductions and smaller size open edition prints.
If you love it, please feel free to share it below!
Another small tarpon study, this time in oil. I have been working out some different things for the final panel of a place I would rather be. While I am trying to figure out what will make the finished painting work across all the panels I have been playing with some smaller ones. Small paintings are a challenge and since I really prefer stretching out on a big canvas with big brushes I have to force myself to step back and get small again which is a good way to figure out technical dilemmas without using large amounts of material. Strange as it may sound, they can often take just as long as a large canvas and if you happen to drink to much coffee that day you can rest assured any shaky hands will be amplified in such a small area. Although I wasn't really concerned with the detail of the fly I thought I would include it just to contrast the fish and give a little more to the composition. It has been awhile since I have worked in oils due to the blinding headaches i was getting from my mediums, but through research have now found some great products that not only produce wonderful results, but also do not contain any of the nasty chemicals. So now I can once again enjoy painting in oils without having to wear every sort of protection short of a hazmat suit.
Tarpon and Fly Study 8x6" oil on board
For availability click here
This time of year I like to do a few smaller paintings, not only for study purposes for larger works, but also to give my collectors or aspiring collectors a chance to add some original fish art to your collection or have a great affordable piece to begin your own art collection. Since the value of my work has increased significantly over the past few years and my larger fish paintings have become unreachable for some, I will be adding smaller pieces from time to time at Savlen Studios so more art lovers will be able to obtain some investment quality paintings at an affordable price. This chunky tarpon study measures 6 x 8" acrylic on gessoed hardboard. I find it challenging to work in smaller sized paintings especially when experimenting with color, and quite often they take almost as much time as a larger fish painting, however I learn a lot without using an excessive amount of materials. Hope you like it!
About halfway through with the side panels to transform "A Place I Would Rather Be" into a triptych to include Bonefish and Tarpon. Finding some interesting challenges in this, mostly due to the fact that I am not a method painter. In other words I kind of like to reinvent the wheel in each painting, relying on my colors and brushwork to define style. The biggest challenges are color matching and reinventing the composition so it flows across all three canvases and becomes a cohesive unit, which by the way will now measure 8 and a half feet across unframed. Hoping to have time to finish it soon
Had the opportunity the other day to do some False Albacore fly fishing on Cape Cod with a good friend Brian Bennett of Moldy Chum and Captain Warren Marshall, an Orvis endorsed guide who runs a beautiful 23 ft Seasport that he rebuilt himself out of Falmouth Mass. The day was amazing, perfect weather great company, and I managed to get some reference photo's for some false Albacore paintings I want to do. Although the fish were finicky at times and I cast until my arm was falling off, we did manage to get some nice fish which produced some great reference shots and I hope to incorporate them into a painting soon!
If you are ever looking for a Striper or False Albacore guide on the Cape you owe it to yourself to try a trip with Warren Marshall. He has all the latest flyfishing and spinning gear, is a laid back very knowledgeable guy and kept us on the fish all day!
Although I do have a passion for painting fish and fishing art. Sometimes it is necessary to break the monotony and do something different. When I began this illustration I was tossing around the idea of what it might look like if I put my fishing art on some wading shorts for women or board shorts, bikini's etc. I chose to do it in a fly fishing pinup girl art piece, just because I felt like it. The positive response I have had from women as well as men got me thinking that a "smack your face off " women's flats wading shorts might be something I would be happy to see on the water, how about you? Prints available here
My wife Donna-lee and I have had a dream since we met to buy some ocean front property. Not in the form of a house but a sailboat. Something moderate sized that we could live on, fish, paint and travel. Its funny how even though you write something down and are fully committed to it, life sometimes gets in the way and suddenly you find yourself a few years down the road wondering what the hell happened and how you got so far off course. When we moved to Charleston last September we realized we found a place we truly love and wanted to live. So we rented a great place in a great neighborhood, stretching ourselves with the idea that we had found the place we could call home. Its been about 7 months now, we have filled the place with furniture and "stuff " just like your supposed to do, got a pup and Im even growing some damn tomato plants in the backyard. All is well, we should have everything we need and now all we have to do is work our asses off to keep the place, buy more stuff cause that's what your supposed to do and then buy something bigger to, as George Carlin said hold all your " stuff, " have 3.2 kids, get fat, grow complacent and die.
The problem is somehow we got caught up with the " keeping up with the Jones'es " philosophy which I am sure is cool for some people, but for us it means work 24/7 never leaving the house to do the things we love and spending more time worried about the fact that the lawn isn't manicured , or the truck is dirty as opposed to the important things like what type of crab pattern is best in Abaco for Bonefish, how many throws with a cast net will fill a cooler with fresh shrimp, or whats it like to hook into a Marlin on a sailboat?
Well the other day we were sitting together talking (something we rarely get to do, even though we both work from home) about what we have accomplished, all the things we have acquired, bills to pay blah blah blah and suddenly it hit me...this sucks. I turned to my beautiful wife and said is this who we are? Is this all there is to life when you get married and "Settle Down"? She thought about it for a moment and said I hope not babe because as happy as I am, I DON'T think this is who we really are. Nodding my head in agreement I said "well ..what if we sold everything we have, bought a smaller 30 ft sailboat, learned how to live on a smaller boat first and at the same time saving for something larger while doing what we love?" The immediate light in her eyes told me all I needed to know. She grinned her mischievous grin and said "why the hell not, lets do it!"
We immediately began talking about how many ways we could fish from a sailboat, set up an onboard studio, travel up and down the east coast at first seeing new places and learning to be as self sufficient on a sailboat as possible. Seeing things and painting them from new perspectives and so many ideas that began pouring out that I cant even list them all. But we would like to bring you along with us. Im sure this isn't all going to be cake and of course the doomcriers have already started putting their 2 cents worth in, but I don't even know the damn Jones'es and from what I've seen I'm certain I don't want to be like them.
So I am happy to say this blog is going to change. Granted I will still post new paintings here, but at the same time we have decided to document, as best we can, good and bad the transition from living the "quiet normal life" on shore, to the amazing place from which we all evolved and perhaps instinctively yearn to return to.. the sea
My Niece and nephew are great little artists, It would be nice if they lived closer so I could help them along and encourage them in their endeavors, but unfortunately they are at different sides of the country which makes it tough. My niece and Godchild Lilah has been painting for a few years with and without me and is quite good, I am hoping she continues. Also my nephew Eli loves to draw and color and since we are separated by so many miles i thought i would start doing some quick coloring type sketches that they could mess around with. This is a simple Largemouth bass to start them out and I am going to try to do at least one of these a week, not only for them but for your kids as well.
I have formatted it so you can simply print it out on s standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, so drag out the crayons and let them have at it. Share these with your own anglers and artists by leaving me a comment below and I'll send you a link to the full size image without the watermark. Doesn't have to be a novel, just say hi. Happy Coloring!
PS if you would like, send me a picture of them and what they come up with and Ill post it anonymously so they can see themselves and their art of the web.
New Striped Bass Fishing t-shirt art, illustration I did for Deep Ocean Apparel. There are 5 fly fishing or sport fishing t-shirts all together and I will post each when I can. This one was something of a challenge. Mike Croteau asked me to illustrate a shirt design that gave the feeling of a true striper blitz like you would see when fly fishing or surf casting in Montauk, the Cape or actually anywhere heavy with baitfish. he also wanted to incorporate a lighthouse giving it a New England feeling. After a few back and forth ideas and corrections, we decided that this was what he had in mind. What made it a lot easier was knowing the heart pounding experience when the water boils on a chilly October day as the Stripers crush the baitfish all around you and any fly or plug tossed into the fray is going to get hammered. These shirts are only available on the Deep Ocean Apparel website right now. You can get yours here
New issue of Tideline Magazine, Charleston's premier maritime publication covering all things wind, water, salt and sand. Fantastic articles about inshore and offshore fishing including tips and tricks, great magazine. This month they decided to see how some Sportfishing sailfish art would look on the cover for the first time. Thanks guys!
Been awhile since I posted so forgive me if my catching up shows some work you may have seen.This is a painting i showed at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition or SEWE in February. Lately I have been interested in working a little more loosely, almost abstract in areas with more emphasis on my focal points. I want to introduce some new perspectives into the world of flyfishing art. I hope you enjoy them.
" Fire From Water " 30 x 30" acrylic trout portrait on canvas Fly Fishing art . Original painting and prints available at Savlen Studios
I have been meaning to post the new Bragging Rights portrait of Eric Lander for some time. He was the winner of the 2011 Striper Cup catch and release winner and managed to land a very nice fish which was released after this photo was taken. I have to admit, when I first saw the reference photo I had to work from I was a little horrified. It was taken at night on a cell phone and didn't show much as far as values, colors, or any background whatsoever so before I began I asked Eric if I could have some creative licensure with it and thankfully he agreed which made it a lot more fun for me. Since this was kind of a tough one and I wanted to really make it a little more interesting I decided to record the steps at different intervals as it was created.
Meet Mike Savlen and view his colorful paintings of fish and art of the low-country landscape, displayed in the Grand Ballroom of the Francis Marion Hotel 387 King Street Charleston South Carolina February 17 -19, 2012. Mike's work will be displayed in the locals exhibit of SEWE, stop by and say hi!
New Tarpon illustration I finished today. Been working on some different ideas that I feel are hopefully a little more outside the box that fish art seems to have been stuffed into. Wanted a mix of lost and found edges for a more painterly effect but still incorporating the palette I like to work in, and movement within the piece. Limited edition prints on canvas are available in 2 sizes, just click the link or the image for pricing and availability.
Art About a fish
The great people of On The Water magazine were kind enough to feature my fish art on this months cover, check it out! If you haven't seen the mag or the television show you are missing out on some awesome fishing information from some of the masters the industry. This months cover is about a fish I painted in oil featuring a luminous brown trout.
Still waiting for my new studio to be set up in South Carolina so I can get back to my brushes and canvas. Generally when I move someplace new it takes me awhile to get into painting but I find during this time I can at least draw and sketch. However after getting out and fishing for some of the new fish in the area I have found them to be a lot more colorful in person than I have ever seen in other images of fish so I decided to take the extra time and bring out the detail in my colors and more of a realism style. You can click the fish pictures or here to order the new signed print on canvas
About a fish