Flick FordFlick Ford fell in love with fishing at age five. His father, an accomplished fly-fisherman and talented commercial artist/copywriter, instilled in him a deep respect for nature and nurtured his early creativity.

Born in 1954 in Atlanta, Flick was raised in Westchester County, New York. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Flick fished the Adirondacks, New England, Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and the woodland lakes of Quebec, while pursuing two other loves: music (as lead singer in a garage rock band) and art. He took formal watercolor classes in the 1960s; figure drawing and graphic design classes from1973 to 1976 and then studied art at Evergreen State College in Washington State.

Flick moved to New York City in 1978 and dove into the audio/visual scene including indie film, video, underground publishing, cartooning, illustration as well as reconnecting with music. He performed in the East Village with several bands, and wrote and sang lead in The Crazy Pages for almost twenty years.

Ford left New York in 1993, heading for the Hudson Highlands where he quickly became obsessed with fishing the NYC watershed. As he branched out to many of the brook trout places where he had previously fished in parts of the Adirondacks and Vermont, the effects of over twenty years of pollution, over-development and acid rain became painfully apparent.

“I felt I should start to keep a record of the fish I caught and decided to do it in watercolor paintings. I just want to catch and paint these fish, and show how they appear to me in all their iridescent beauty.”

Today Ford makes his home in Putnam County, New York. He fishes more than 100 days a year and ties his own flies. He selects early every fish he paints for its relative size and beauty. After landing a fish, he quickly gets a digital photo before the colors fade, carefully measures it in all dimensions, sketches details, counts scales, fin rays and finally traces it to get its actual outline. He has developed a technique of successive washes utilizing masking friskets and painstakingly detailed dry brush that make these fish truly come to life on paper.


"The 19th century method to make the popular botanica and fauna prints were either hand-colored copperplate engravings or lithographs. You couldn't just make prints off of paintings then. As far as process goes: specimens were pickled, stuffed, smoked or salted; hasty sketches in journals were supplied to artists with the specimens to make the renderings, which then went to lithographers or engravers. So those old plates today have a certain charm, but unparalleled accuracy is definitely not their hallmark. The purpose then was to bring the wonders of 19th century discovery into the parlor. A not so humorous reprisal from using spin that suggests I use 19th century methods: fine art prints made from litho or engraving are worth big bucks and are taken very seriously by fine art people. They are very labor intensive, and to achieve the kind of detail I can (by simply painting them) the hard way would be ground-breaking. I'm a watercolorist. I don't want to be called to task over this if I was ever interviewed.

I have developed my own fully modern, and as far as I know - original and unique technique. I can get real translucent fins and an iridescent shine on the scales with my method. My process involves: catching the fish, taking digital photos, tracing the catch, notes on markings and the exact placement of body parts, print-outs of photos, a detailed free-hand ink drawing on velum and a transfer to the watercolor paper with the aid of a light box. Then I begin applying liquid frisket medium to block the subsequent washes, so the first frisket layer will hold the white I want to show through. Repeated frisket layers over subsequent washes will trap the colors I want to stay. An average painting has 3-5 washes before I take all the frisket off, blend the edges by putting on a clear wash of clean water and then after drying paint the details in with fine sable hair brushes. I never use gouache or any opaque paints, I let the paper show through for white and the amount of tint I use determines the shade. In contrast, scientific illustrators use sharp color pencils and a scratch-board technique to get the absolute finest detail. I'm not about that, I'm dealing in detailed illusions within the medium and limitations of fine watercolor painting.

My background as an underground cartoonist also comes into play. I instinctively feel the "personality" of the fish. Certain fish look ferocious to me, others look meek or sad, others proud. I don't hesitate to let this come out. I figure that if I subtly render my anthropolymorphism, the fish will come to life in the publics mind's eye, rather than looking like a dead fish study. I've never understood why in our culture this is viewed as such a horrible thing to do. Native people call all manner of plants and animals "nations" or refer to them as "people" as in the "fish people". I'd like to think I am seeing these connecting threads in creation and recording them as well as the physical aspects of my subjects. It's the spirit of the animal I'm trying to portray.

From now on let's say that my style of painting (an isolated fish study in profile) is reminiscent of 19th century plates in that great age of discovery – but much more lifelike due to the unbelievable quality of Greenwich Workshop printing which can capture the delicate shading and hairline details of my remarkable paintings better than ever possible before. It's totally NEW and IMPROVED!!!"

- Flick Ford

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