Passion for… Art in Angling

John Bailey

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PCwithBigFloat.jpg


Thomas Turner travels led to the door of legendary angling artist, Paul Cook, a short while back. Paul moved from Hertfordshire to Norfolk a few years ago, and now lives in a delightful cottage not far from the market town of Swaffham. After a coffee and meeting with the family greyhound, Paul took us into his studio, an Aladdin’s Cave of angling delights.

Paul attended Watford Art College for a year after school, but left when he was offered a job as a glass etcher, and in that regard he has no regrets. This five year apprenticeship taught Paul many of the disciplines you can see in his work today, notably the exceptionally fine detail that has made him so sought after by collectors.

Around a quarter of a century back, the demand for glass etching, especially from the pub trade, dwindled, and that is when Paul began the transition to full-time angling art and tackle making. It was in his blood, though. His father had been a rod whipper and float maker, but then many of us were back in the Fifties and Sixties when tackle availability was so rudimentary. But more than that, his angling art work fulfilled his creative urge and his genius.

PC + rod.JPG


Rods1.jpg


Paul showed us several cane rods in differing stages of completion, and some beauties waiting to go out to customers. A stunning Mark IV will be on its way to Ireland soon, along with a quite glorious modern version of the Avocet that will be used, or displayed, in Switzerland. He finds the cane processes tiring and time-consuming, but you can still get a Cook rod on commission, if not from the shelves. At present he is also renovating a Chapman cane fly rod from the undervalued company that made the 500 and 550 series carp rods back in the Sixties. Renovation is a Cook speciality, and he has played a part in the restoration of the Nadell roach pole collection we reported on a while back.

Floats 1.jpg


Floats 2.jpg


Paul’s artwork is highly valued in itself, and his drawings have decorated many books produced by the Medlar and Little Egret Press publishing houses. However, it is probably his float making that brings Paul the most joy these days. His floats are exquisite, up there with the very best created today. Indeed, his only regret is that the cost of raw materials like cork has rocketed to such an extent that it is impossible to keep prices down. And if you want to really enhance your float experience, why not house them in one of his glorious tubes or float boxes, one sumptuous example of which he is making from Turkish walnut?

Float Tubes 1.jpg


Float Tubes 3.jpg




In this regard, Paul’s passions have come full circle. Back on the Colne as a boy, Paul was a float-mad kid and today, if he does get a day out, it will be the float all the way for him. But Paul is not unique. We are lucky to have some superb artists who have found their creative outlet and destiny in the sport that they love. David Miller, David Cowdry, Rob Olsen, Robin Armstrong, and the late John Searl are all examples of passionate anglers who have painted fishing sumptuously – and we haven’t even mentioned Bernard Venables of course!

An intriguing and inspiring experience, then, with a lovely man who really is bringing art in angling to new heights and new dimensions. We are indeed lucky to have him working today.

D Cowdry.JPG

Tench by David Cowdry

R Olsen.JPG

Barbel by Rob Olsen

J Searle.JPG

Ferox trout by John Searl
 
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nottskev

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View attachment 16437

Thomas Turner travels led to the door of legendary angling artist, Paul Cook, a short while back. Paul moved from Hertfordshire to Norfolk a few years ago, and now lives in a delightful cottage not far from the market town of Swaffham. After a coffee and meeting with the family greyhound, Paul took us into his studio, an Aladdin’s Cave of angling delights.

Paul attended Watford Art College for a year after school, but left when he was offered a job as a glass etcher, and in that regard he has no regrets. This five year apprenticeship taught Paul many of the disciplines you can see in his work today, notably the exceptionally fine detail that has made him so sought after by collectors.

Around a quarter of a century back, the demand for glass etching, especially from the pub trade, dwindled, and that is when Paul began the transition to full-time angling art and tackle making. It was in his blood, though. His father had been a rod whipper and float maker, but then many of us were back in the Fifties and Sixties when tackle availability was so rudimentary. But more than that, his angling art work fulfilled his creative urge and his genius.

View attachment 16438

View attachment 16439

Paul showed us several cane rods in differing stages of completion, and some beauties waiting to go out to customers. A stunning Mark IV will be on its way to Ireland soon, along with a quite glorious modern version of the Avocet that will be used, or displayed, in Switzerland. He finds the cane processes tiring and time-consuming, but you can still get a Cook rod on commission, if not from the shelves. At present he is also renovating a Chapman cane fly rod from the undervalued company that made the 500 and 550 series carp rods back in the Sixties. Renovation is a Cook speciality, and he has played a part in the restoration of the Nadell roach pole collection we reported on a while back.

View attachment 16440

View attachment 16441

Paul’s artwork is highly valued in itself, and his drawings have decorated many books produced by the Medlar and Little Egret Press publishing houses. However, it is probably his float making that brings Paul the most joy these days. His floats are exquisite, up there with the very best created today. Indeed, his only regret is that the cost of raw materials like cork has rocketed to such an extent that it is impossible to keep prices down. And if you want to really enhance your float experience, why not house them in one of his glorious tubes or float boxes, one sumptuous example of which he is making from Turkish walnut?

View attachment 16442

View attachment 16444



In this regard, Paul’s passions have come full circle. Back on the Colne as a boy, Paul was a float-mad kid and today, if he does get a day out, it will be the float all the way for him. But Paul is not unique. We are lucky to have some superb artists who have found their creative outlet and destiny in the sport that they love. David Miller, David Cowdry, Rob Olsen, Robin Armstrong, and the late John Searle are all examples of passionate anglers who have painted fishing sumptuously – and we haven’t even mentioned Bernard Venables of course!

An intriguing and inspiring experience, then, with a lovely man who really is bringing art in angling to new heights and new dimensions. We are indeed lucky to have him working today.

View attachment 16446
Tench by David Cowdry

View attachment 16447
Barbel by Rob Olsen

View attachment 16448
Ferox trout by John Searle

What beautiful stuff - the materials, the shapes, the colours, the decorative art. It wouldn't be practical or affordable for me, and my favourite gear is from the pre-Duplon modern era when the best stuff was both hi-tech and lovely to look at. But I love the way it evokes a kind of perfect world of fishing. In a similar way, I enjoy the illustrations and drawings in the "Guide to Coarse Fishing" type books published in the late 50's and 60's. I read every one in the local library as a wannabe fisherman kid. They helped make fishing look like what it is - another world.
 

steve2

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The floats are works of art, collectors items, surely no one would ever use them.
 

tigger

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I'm a big fan of John Searl's art work. I am fortunate to own one of his print
 
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Ray Roberts

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This is the chap who does the rod licenses. His artwork is also really good.

Well worth a browse.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

theartist

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If anyone is thinking of buying angling art online please, please, please make sure you are either buying direct from the artist or from a reputable distributor heavily linked to the artist. Otherwise you could well be buying a piece of plagiurised tat that's been printed somewhere in asia, lining the pockets of a thief and getting poor quality in return.

On the art front i'm a big admirer of Miller, ok he's mainstream but for a reason, art is all about light and he gets it right more than any of the others, there is room out there for a more contemporary impressionist angle but us anglers do like realism dont we? He get's it right and gets depth through the painting via the use of light imo.
 

markg

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If anyone is thinking of buying angling art online please, please, please make sure you are either buying direct from the artist or from a reputable distributor heavily linked to the artist. Otherwise you could well be buying a piece of plagiurised tat that's been printed somewhere in asia, lining the pockets of a thief and getting poor quality in return.

On the art front i'm a big admirer of Miller, ok he's mainstream but for a reason, art is all about light and he gets it right more than any of the others, there is room out there for a more contemporary impressionist angle but us anglers do like realism dont we? He get's it right and gets depth through the painting via the use of light imo.
I looked up Miller, I see what you mean about the light, his prints sell for about £70 unframed. We don't see enough of your art by the way, I have seen some of your sketches and they are first class.
 

theartist

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I looked up Miller, I see what you mean about the light, his prints sell for about £70 unframed. We don't see enough of your art by the way, I have seen some of your sketches and they are first class.
Thanks Mark that's kind of you to say, here's a couple I did for some books Wayne from Little Egret Press was working on.

Walker redmire small.jpg

Yates Redmire.jpg
 

markg

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Thanks Mark that's kind of you to say, here's a couple I did for some books Wayne from Little Egret Press was working on.

View attachment 16465
View attachment 16464
Brilliant them, such detail, absolutely stunning, you should have your own thread. What did you use, I am assuming just pencil or maybe charcoal. How long does that take you? Where is your website can they be bought?
 
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theartist

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Brilliant them, such detail, absolutely stunning, you should have your own thread. What did you use, I am assuming just pencil or maybe charcoal. How long does that take you? Where is your website can they be bought?
Thanks Mark lots of questions there :) Just pencil a 3H, HB and a 4B is all I use (and some decent paper of course), they can take anything from 5 to 50 hours You can view most of my work here.

robspencilportraits/Etsy
or
robspencilportraits/Ebay
 

markg

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Thanks Mark lots of questions there :) Just pencil a 3H, HB and a 4B is all I use (and some decent paper of course), they can take anything from 5 to 50 hours You can view most of my work here.

robspencilportraits/Etsy
or
robspencilportraits/Ebay
Great, I have just ordered the salmon and the roach print, mounted, from your website, I reckon they are a bargain. I might try and find some frames. Sorry about the questions, just curious.
 
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John Bailey

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If anyone is thinking of buying angling art online please, please, please make sure you are either buying direct from the artist or from a reputable distributor heavily linked to the artist. Otherwise you could well be buying a piece of plagiurised tat that's been printed somewhere in asia, lining the pockets of a thief and getting poor quality in return.

On the art front i'm a big admirer of Miller, ok he's mainstream but for a reason, art is all about light and he gets it right more than any of the others, there is room out there for a more contemporary impressionist angle but us anglers do like realism dont we? He get's it right and gets depth through the painting via the use of light imo.

A good comment on David Miller who I have the pleasure of working with over the years. Not only is he a super man, and extraordinary artist, but his attention to detail, as you remark, is amazing. On several occasions, David came to Norfolk on my fishing expeditions and always brought with him a huge tank. This he would unload on the bank and fill with water awaiting a catch. I can remember contributing big chub, roach and pike which swam around obligingly, whilst David both sketched and took realms of photos before setting the model free.

Mind you, he is not alone in his diligence. I have watched David Cowdry at work too, and he goes the extra mile too. He has got into the river with an underwater camera whilst I have played and released fish for him in front of the lens.

Enormous talent is only enhanced by enormous toil it would seem!
 

markg

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A good comment on David Miller who I have the pleasure of working with over the years. Not only is he a super man, and extraordinary artist, but his attention to detail, as you remark, is amazing. On several occasions, David came to Norfolk on my fishing expeditions and always brought with him a huge tank. This he would unload on the bank and fill with water awaiting a catch. I can remember contributing big chub, roach and pike which swam around obligingly, whilst David both sketched and took realms of photos before setting the model free.

Mind you, he is not alone in his diligence. I have watched David Cowdry at work too, and he goes the extra mile too. He has got into the river with an underwater camera whilst I have played and released fish for him in front of the lens.

Enormous talent is only enhanced by enormous toil it would seem!
Just for the record the comment "his attention to detail" comment was mine about "theartist". Sketching to such detail is harder than painting. You can hide a lot under paint but there is no hiding with a sketch in my opinion. You haven't commented on his work even though two fine examples are shown.
 
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