Fishy art: Bob White

Published Jul 3rd 2008

Bob White is probably best known for his illustrations for John Gierach's long running column in FR&R


Bamboo, Big water and Close to home
Bob White

My attention was drawn to Bob White through his illustrations of a long running series of columns written by John Gierach for the printed magazine Fly Rod & Reel. The column has run since 1992 and now celebrates its 100th anniversary. Bob White has been illustrating every single column with a beautiful oil or watercolor painting, which I all found on his web site.
Seeing all these nice paintings immediately made me want to see Bob in our series about fishy artists, and luckily Bob was kind enough to answer my row of questions.

How it all started
I always start by asking how it all started, and Bob explained:
- I've always painted, and sensed at an early age that it was essential for me to paint what I know and love... for me that was everything about fly fishing; scenes of fishermen pursuing their passion, of course, but also the landscapes, equipment, flies, fish, and even the abstractions reflections and water.

It is obvious that there's a deep passion for fishing in Bob's pictures, and you would guess that the fishing was there before the painting.
Like other of the artists we have talked to, Bob is fascinated by the appearance of the fish themselves:
- Every fish that I hold in my hands, or view from above is like a jewel to me. I'm fascinated by the reflective qualities, the surfaces and colors of fish.
Bob also paints the flies, the gear and fly fishing itself as well as the landscapes surrounding the anglers.
- Particularly those that hold the reflective quality of water in them, as he says, and continues:
- Like many fly fishermen, I also enjoy wing shooting, and much of my artwork also represents this passion.

Fly tying legacy, A short cast, Double digit and In the canyon
Bob White

Classic oils
- I prefer to work in the classic mediums of oil paints and watercolors, Bob tells us.
- My oil paintings are executed on stretched canvas or prepared board, and often utilize transparent glazes of varnish. In this manner, there is a cerebral connection to the process in which I work with my watercolors.
Bob likes his watercolors to be rich and deeply pigmented and paints with a wet pallet. As he says:
- This allows me to fully load my brush with pigment, and create images in watercolors that are stylistically connected to my oils. It's often difficult to tell my oils from my watercolors.
But Bob sometimes diverges from the painting and tells that he enjoys the simplistic elegance of pencil renderings and ink drawings.

Grayling, char and rainbow
Bob White

Full time
- I support my family by painting and writing, Bob says.
He lists the "menu": sales of commissioned paintings, my "own" original works, limited edition prints, illustrations for magazines columns and books, and the odd photograph.
He also writes and edits, and tells about a new project he is involved in:
- Regarding my writing; I am the Sporting Art Editor for a new magazine, Traveling Sportsman, which launches this June.
He also writes a regular column "Guidelines" for Midwest Fly Fishing, and sells freelance articles and essays to a variety of editors and publishers.
Together with his wife, Lisa he also publishes a weekly illustrated essay, which is sent over the internet, as The Thursday Morning Art Review. It is a free, and is subscribed by almost 4000 enthusiasts on all seven continents.
- We have a subscriber who resides at the Murdo Research Station in Antarctica, Bob says with a certain pride.

Northern light, Something old and something new, Rain, The Titan and Waiting on the incoming tide
Bob White

24 years guiding
Whitefish Studio
240 6th Street
P.O. Box 261
Marine On St. Croix, MN 55047 USA

Phone: (651) 433-4168
Fax: (651) 433-4183
He is into guiding too, and occasionally guides on the local rivers for smallmouth bass and musky, but also hosts several fly fishing trips to Argentina each winter together with his wife who manages the business.
He reflects on this part of the work:
- Since 1984 I have guided 27 seasons between Alaska and Argentina, and continue to guide in the upper midwest because I feel that it's important for my artwork to be on the water, seeing new images and experiencing the life of a guide. I was awarded Guide of the Year, by Fly Rod & Reel magazine in 1988.
He and Lisa live and work in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota, USA
When I ask him whether people can buy his artwork, the answer is prompt, and not surprising:
- Absolutely! We are represented by several galleries in the United States, but the majority of my artwork is collected by enthusiasts from our website.

The artist Bob White -
The artist Bob White

More Fishy Artists
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User comments
From: marshall mcdonald · marshall·at·  Link
Submitted July 11th 2008

Thank you for the article on Bob White the artist and guide. His weekly Thursday Morning Art Review which i read every week in my office, transports one back into the peace of nature, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It nourishes my soul. I can only afford his Small Fry Cards, because of currency exchange rates, but they are an excellent personal memo for use in business. Bob White deserves support.

Comment to an image
From: tom · domeldoom·at·  Link
Submitted July 4th 2008

Looking on this picture I almost feel smell of water, hear its rush and feeld little cold as staying in river in waders. Love this.

Comment to an image
From: derek - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted January 25th 2013

love ur work wow

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