"Fowler Paddling (on the Sweetwater River)"
©2010, Watercolour, 20” by 16”
A few years back, I decided to try my hand at writing a fairy-tale type children’s story, one that I would also illustrate with my own paintings. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to paint. I could illustrate with pen and ink, but I’d never done anything more than play with watercolours. So, I decided to sit down and teach myself to paint while I wrote the book in the background.
It took me a few years to finish the book but, when I was finally able to present the 500 page epic that I had wrought to a publisher, they were very polite in saying that the paintings that I’d created for the book were much better than the actual book. The fact was, I was reluctant to admit, they were right, so I decided to take their constructive criticism and focus almost entirely on my painting career, something that I feel was a good move.
Still, this particular character from the book was a favourite of mine nonetheless. His name is Fowler the beaver and he is the cartographer or the Kingdom of Thenken. He travels the forest in his cedar-rib canoe which he paddles expertly with his tail. The sack around his neck contains magic dust that, when sprinkled on water or steam, floats above it all to form the mapped-out shape of the forest as seen from above.
All connections with my fairy-tale aside, this painting remains one of the most Canadian things I’ve ever created. When I was first researching it, I looked for images of beavers paddling canoes and kept finding them where the beaver is holding a paddle. I couldn’t understand why, since the beaver actually has his own paddle growing out of butt and, as anybody familiar with canoeing knows, the best paddles are those called “beaver-tail paddles” because they’re shaped just like their namesake.
If you’re wondering if it’s natural for a canoe to be tipped this far over, then you should know that a very common way to paddle a canoe solo is to do just this. It’s called “keeling”, and it pulls the physical keel of the canoe out of the water while simultaneously reducing the amount of the vessel in direct contact with the water, making it more manoeuvrable. In fact, the image of the canoe that I based this painting on was one of the legendary Bill Mason. Everything except the beaver is a direct interpretation of the photograph of Bill. From the position of the canoe, to the water, to the background, and even the reflection. I just took Bill and his packs out and painted Fowler in. In fact, if you look closely, you can still see Bill’s white beard and face in the ripples of the water.
Fowler Paddling (on the Sweetwater River)
Reproductions of my art are available printed either on paper or canvas. Both formats are signed by me, the artist, and are high quality, full-colour prints of a high resolution scan or photograph of the original painting. All prints are inspected to ensure that the colours match the source and created using inks that are guaranteed to resist both fading and UV light.
These are printed on high quality paper to give them the look and feel of the original painting. In terms of the dimensions listed, please keep in mind that they are approximate. Since I custom mat and frame the prints myself, I reproduce them at specific sizes so that when they are matted to standard matting dimensions, the mat-board borders are consistent widths on all sides. It’s because of this that I highly recommend that you upgrade to the matted version (seriously, go do it now).
Now, if you've ordered a print that is not a standard sized when matted, then I highly recommend that you go back and order it in a frame. As described in the sister section Frames, I do all my own framing using reclaimed wood and am affordable.
If you want to avoid matting and framing altogether, then I suggest that you order the canvas option. I stretch the canvases myself using reclaimed wood and, with a profile that is an inch and a half thick, the art will make a strong statement on your wall.