Time on the Line

Life and all its pleasures have a way of pushing and pulling us through the years. I am in a season of life that affords me the gift of time; and I intend to spend it well. Now in my 70s, I reflect on the story of my life, how I've spent my time and how to use the time I still have.

The fact that I feel truly blessed is an understatement. Between family, friends and food, I try to live every day to the fullest. Whether cooking up a great meal or spoiling the hell out of my five grandkids, I don't take any of it for granted.

But there is another part of me. A huge part of me. I am a Watercolor Artist. I am an avid Fisherman. I consider these two parts of my life to be my true passions. As I try to make time for both, I have really set myself up to fail. Here's why:

My art studio, which is in my lake cabin in North Mississippi, provides me with wonderful seclusion to do my art, along with a beautiful spring fed lake. This clean water, along with very little fishing pressure results in healthy, strong and plentiful fish.

Painting in the watercolor medium is one of the most rewarding, challenging and frustrating forms of expressing myself in my creative journey. It is immediate, fresh, brilliant and transparent. I am by nature an impatient person. Watercolor allows me to use this fault to my advantage. Watching what happens when I lay down a brush stroke of color into a clear wash of water is one of the most exciting things I experience. If you let the paint do its own thing and just watch what happens, it can create the most amazing results. I have many more failures than successes. I have thrown away more sheets of paper than I want to admit. But when I have a successful painting, it makes up for all of those that went into the trash.

Fishing also is rewarding, challenging and frustrating. To feel that tug on your line with an ultra light rod using 4# test line and pulling in a beautiful, healthy bream, crappie, trout or bass makes a day on the lake . . . perfect! I release 99% of all my fish. I am not there to fill a cooler and have a big fish fry. When you hold one of these creatures in your hand, after fighting it for a while, and see the beauty and strength that it has, it is almost impossible for me to take its life.

As I said, my studio is in my lake cabin. The loft where I have my drawing board and painting supplies has a half wall next to my board. I can look out over the half wall and see the lake through the large windows. It can be a late fall, or an early spring day, and I know the crappie are finally at the right depth to be fooled by my fishing lure. Guilt sets in and I say to myself I need to be on the lake, so I abandon my painting, grab my gear and head to the boat. So on the lake I go, and I fish. Between catching fish, I am always looking around. I see trees turning their fall color, or the budding green leaves of early spring. Guilt sets in again, and I feel I should be in my studio, painting.

Should I fish, or should I paint . . . should I paint or should I fish?

Seems a funny thing to complain about I know. Believe me, I am not complaining. I know that even this mixed bag of feelings is a gift, and one to be treasured for sure.

To be honest, it's a good problem to have. One passion feeds the other. This provides me with constant energy and inspiration to keep up with both, while trying to commit the appropriate amount of time to one or the other.

I've lived long enough as both an artist and fisherman to know that creativity is found in the balance of all things. You don't always catch a fish and you don't always make a great painting. Time spent on your craft is time well spent indeed. Both of my passions take time, patience and practice. But there will always be more fish to catch and new paintings to paint. I look forward to every minute, every second I can do both. Or neither . . . but probably both.

David Rawlinson lives in Germantown, Tennessee, and creates his art out of his lake cabin studio in North Mississippi. After receiving a BFA in Advertising Design from Memphis College of Art, David worked as an art director for several advertising agencies in Memphis and Little Rock. In 1987, David began his own graphic design company in Collierville, Tennessee. For 30 years his company provided marketing and design services for various clients from agricultural chemical and seed companies, to the manufacturing and service industry.

In the late 60s, David lived with his mother in the French Quarter of New Orleans. She was a portrait artist on Jackson Square. He began painting while attending high school and working in a frame shop after school. Working in the frame shop, he got to know many different artist that lived in the French Quarter. That early art environment in such a unique place was a valuable asset to his art career.