Flylords got to know Boulder, CO based artist Remington Robinson. Remington is a passionate fly fisherman who grew up casting for bass in Ohio’s lakes and rivers, deep-sea fishing in the Bahamas, and chasing Pike in upstate New York. He uses his wealth of artistic talent to create paintings of all sizes, from massive murals to minuscule, plein-air masterpieces. Check out Remington’s thoughts and creations below!
Could you tell us about how fishing and art found their way into your life?
I’m from Northeast Ohio and I grew up around fishing. I used to fish off of docks with a little spin-casting rod and then got into spin fishing for bass on the local lakes and rivers in Ohio. When I was really young, before my granddad passed away, we used to go down to the Bahamas on a trip with my mom’s side of the family every year. [My grandad] had a big fishing boat that we would take out and get up close to grouper and different types of snapper. My dad’s side of my family also has a place in upstate New York, and we still go up there to this day. My great-great grandfather bought an Island on upper Saranac Lake way back in the early 1900s, and all the families that have grown and branched off [from his children] all have the island as a timeshare.
I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. My dad, who passed away a few years ago, was an architect, and I used to go to his office when I was a kid and mess around with the colored pencils and all the little drafting templates. I started learning how to construct things from the ground up with craftsmanship and drawing. And then just like any other kid, I did art class in school and took to it because I already had that background of going to my dad’s office. [Since then,] I’ve just been taking [my art career] one step at a time, focusing more on art the more I grew up, and now we’re here today and I live in Boulder, Colorado making art full time.
Walk us through your process for creating a new piece.
First I have to come up with an idea of what I want to do because I’m making art—I could literally make anything I want, even stuff that doesn’t exist. A lot of people have a tough time nailing down what they even want to [paint]. I like nature and have been around nature my whole life. Fishing is included in that, of course. My biggest inspiration just comes from nature itself—understanding the laws of nature and seeing how they work and how everything’s put together. [I also get ideas from] other painters and seeing what they’re making, and am inspired by Monet.
[Starting the painting involves] coming up with the composition and dividing it up into the main shapes so that everything fits together correctly. From there I add a little bit of detail by drawing, and then go in with the main colors of the paint, blocking in the main colors with a bigger brush and then filling in the details with a smaller brush. It’s kinda simple—there are ways to break it down to make it simple so that it’s not so overwhelming.
How would you compare learning to paint and learning to fly fish?
[With both] you just have to start small. You can’t eat an elephant all in one bite—you gotta work your way up. It’s really tempting to want to just accomplish everything all at once, but of course that’s not possible—you have to start from the beginning and work your way up. You’re not going to go out and catch the fish of a lifetime right away. First, you have to start casting and get your line in the water. With painting and fishing, you have to make the choice to put yourself out there. I think a lot of people have a tough time putting themselves out there because they’re doing something else that they need to do—everybody has bills to pay.
With art and with fishing, it’s not about whether you have the time [to learn] or not, it’s whether you make the time. I had other jobs and was making art on the side and for a while, and said “I don’t have the time to start getting my foot in the door and start being a full-time artist.” But then I realized I was watching Netflix at night and going out with friends, and that stuff has its place, but it’s also possible to take some of that time to begin pursuing something else that you want to do. [Once I realized that], I approached a friend of mine who was doing murals and asked if we could do a mural together—I put my line in the water. He ended up asking me if I wanted to work with him on a few things here and there, that slowly ramped up, and then I was able to quit my other job in order to paint full time.
Another connection between the two skills is preparation. I do a lot of murals and people end up seeing the end product, just like they see the end product of the fish when you catch it. But they didn’t see all the prep that went into it. [Working on a mural] I talk to the client, figure out the design, do a mock up on the wall, and order the paint. The same goes for fishing—nobody sees you getting up at 3:00AM and setting up all the rigs beforehand, making sure the raft is at the appropriate pressure, making sure your waders are there, but you wouldn’t catch anything without the work that happens behind the scenes.
How did you come up with your miniature plein air paintings?
I took a class in college on plein air painting (painting on location outside). I really loved it, but didn’t get into it right then. Later I worked in an art store and I saw all these big, quality plein air painting kits, and thought “I don’t want to carry all that stuff out to a place.” About four years ago I was in Salida, Colorado, and I stopped at a storefront that belongs to Joshua Been. It’s a storefront and studio location, and when I wandered in I saw that he had these really cool, compact, plein air painting kits for sale. I immediately bought one and then started going out and painting. It’s a really good excuse to be outside, and there’s a takeaway—an actual artifact—from [being outdoors], which is always nice.
Later on a girl sent me a direct message on Instagram and was like, “Hey, my friends saw you painting!” I looked at her account, and she was one of these people who paints in the Altoid containers. I started painting a little bit smaller when I saw that, and then I ended up meeting with her for a little painting session. I asked her if she minded if I tried out the Altoid tin painting style and she was like, “I don’t own it. I just saw somebody else doing it!” After that I didn’t do it for a while, but for some reason, right when my dad died, I switched over to doing those tiny paintings. I was like, “you know what, I’m just going to start doing that because it looks like a fun thing to do!”
They’re oil paintings, and what I’m painting on is a small wood panel. I velcro them into the lid and then put the pallet of paint in. The paints will stay good for a month or two—they’ll dry on the outside, but there’s still good paint on the inside if you poke it with the end of the paintbrush and peel back what’s dry. I usually set those up ahead of time and it’s a good way to travel and be able to paint.
Do you paint exclusively with oil paints?
I actually [paint in] a lot of mediums. The Altoid container paintings are all always oil, but I [use other materials, too]. When I first started painting, I got into acrylic paints and I still [paint with those] occasionally. When I do murals, it’s usually a combination of acrylic paint and sometimes spray paint, too. I was just down in Mexico and I did a lot of gouache paintings—gouache is basically opaque watercolor, and it’s a fun medium that I just got into.
What motivates you to continue creating?
I think [painting] is my healthy addiction. It’s fulfilling for my inner self and my innermost self. I feel like you have your inner self, which is the base part of your personality, and then your innermost self is who you are on the inside when there’s nobody around and everything is totally quiet—you just have your own thoughts and there’s no ego attached. On both of those levels [painting] is fulfilling [for me].
What are some of your most memorable fishing experiences?
I’ve got tons of fun fishing stories from my adult life, but this one is from when I was a little kid. I was at my grandparents’ townhouse in Great Harbor Key, Bahamas, and maybe four or five years old. All the adults were out fishing, and I was there with my mom, but she was upstairs. I was down on the dock below the townhouse and wanted to fish, but I didn’t really know what I was doing yet. I found a rod that had a hook on it already and tossed it in with a bit of shrimp. Small fish came and picked away all the shrimp, so I was just fishing with a bare hook. This Barracuda comes up and eats it right on the surface of the water, and when it took the hook it immediately started splashing around. My mom heard the splashing and thought I had fallen off the dock. She came running down and saw that I had this Barracuda on. It was almost the same size as I was, and she helped bring the fish in and then took a picture of me.
Another time, at the end of 2016, my dad took me on a trip to Aruba and he paid for a deep sea charter and for us to go out and bone fish. We didn’t catch a single thing, but right near our hotel, there was this random, man-made inlet. It was lined with reeds, and when I walked over to it one day I saw all these Tarpon. I got my rod and I was able to land a few small Tarpon that were between four-and-a-half and five feet long. It’s just funny because my dad spent probably $500 or $600 on us being able to go out deep-sea fishing and then, just outside the hotel, for free, we caught the biggest fish of the whole trip. If you keep your eyes open you can always find little things like that.
According to Remington, “more fish-related art is always welcome.” Additionally, Remington and his mural partner, Jason Graves, are interested in doing more fish-related murals. To reach out regarding any fish-related artwork requests, send an instagram direct message to Remington, or email your inquiry to: email@example.com
Finally, Remington encourages everyone to follow and support Rep Your Water on Instagram.
To see how the mural came to life, check out this video!