"Bucktail Blue" salt water fishing plug - oil painting by John Morfis

Bucktail Blue (Fishing Plug Painting)

"Bucktail Blue" salt water fishing plug - oil painting by John MorfisThe title of this oil painting is simply a description but the alliteration proved irresistible!

The tail on the back of this medium sized fishing plug is authentic fur from a deer.  It is aged and has some really great rust streaks in it near the treble hook.

In fact, one of my favorite moments of painting this lure was the buck tail.  For those of you who don’t know, the buck tail is the hairy part of the lure, it hangs off the back and partly obscures the rear hook.  I suppose some hooks may use artificial hairs and such but this antique lure!

I loved capturing the bend in the buck tail as it curved into and out of the light.  This was one of those areas of the painting I would have overdone in my younger years.  I would have tried to paint too many lines of color and failed miserably at capturing the true essence of the fur.  I probably would have played up the value too much, feeling the need to drastically paint the contrast from the highlighted parts to the lesser lit spots.

Actually, less was more in this case.

Yes, value was important but so was my paint’s chroma (saturation).  I made the buck tail grayer as it moved out of the light while simultaneously darkening its value.

The key here is to do it subtly.

I’m changing both the chroma and value so I need only do it slightly.  The colors are barely decipherable on the palette.

I can also forgo all the lines that represent each strand of hair in the buck tail.  Simply softening up the edges simulates all of the hairs at once without painting a single one!  That’s one of my favorite parts about painting… oils in particular.  You can capture something’s presence without boring yourself with all the precise details.


  1. Wow, this is an awesome site. I’m glad I found it. The tutorials and articles are extremely helpful. Thank you!

    1. John Morfis says:

      Great, thanks for your kind words Rebecca.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *