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Artistic integrity

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

A blast from the past. I found this clip from a fly fishing magazine. It opened a memory flap.

I used to pay the rent this way, painting fly boxes, maps and fishing memorabilia for fishermen from all around the world.

I got to meet a lot of interesting people, from poachers to celebrities and lords of the land. They say fishing is a great leveller, that could be true, depending on which side of the river you come from. One of my fly boxes ended up at the White House, yes that White House!

At the turn of the century I had had enough of my crazy first husband, he seemed to be controlling my life. He wouldn't let me drive, he wouldn't let me meet his friends, in fact he even dictated how and what I painted. I went to the bank, got loan and I ran away to Ireland. I set up my own studio and gallery, I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I wanted to make a living from my art. I needed to demonstrate I could do it. How else could I stand on my own?

For the first two years things were going well, (the third year was a total different story). It was hard, tiring work and late lonely nights. I painted fly boxes, I painted mugs, plates and slates, I painted anything that would hold paint. I painted mayfly, I painted salmon, I painted trout and all local scenic spots. I also painted for myself, I painted my feelings, my fears, my joys and anxieties.

I couldn't believe it, people were buying, I was paying the rent, I put food on the table, I bought a car to get around and I was paying off my loan.

One day, a bright young thing came into the studio, I could feel her looking down her nose at me.

"Why are you painting these things?" she asked, waving her hand in regal manner towards the fish and mayfly."

My daughter is so talented" her mother chipped in, "she's so clever."

"I wouldn't compromise my artistic integrity," the genius sneered," I couldn't bring myself to paint stuff like that."

"It pays the rent," I said " If I pay the rent I can paint for me when I get time."

"How do you manage to survive?, I asked.

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