Jerkbait Lure - oil painting by John Morfis

Jerkbait Painting

Jerkbait Lure - oil painting by John MorfisI had painted this fishing lure a while back and decided to try it again but from a completely different angle… upside down in fact! This is one of those pretty lures that seemed to sit in the bottom of all my childhood fishing tackle but never got used.

As a kid I fished exclusively in saltwater mostly for snappers and bluefish “snapper-blues” as we called them when we were young!  Metallic lures that shined strong and popping plugs really seemed to be the best form of non-living bait were I fished on the northern shores of Long Island.  So this funny lure just collected dust.  Either it was right for the waters or I just didn’t know how to use it.

Recently I came to find out that this lure is of the “jerkbait” variety and hence my title for this artwork.  Apparently this lure is supposed to creep through the water in a non-linear path making it seem like this lure is an injured fish.  Looking weak and hurt makes it easy prey for the larger fish one would hope to catch using this lure.

This painting was one of those classic examples of making things darker to correctly paint the “shine”.  While it’s true that the blue color on this lure is radiant, I had to be careful not to paint it too light in value.  Otherwise I would not be able to show that reflective highlight along the right side of the lure’s spine.

I suspect I’m not the only painter that intuitively wants to paint colors (especially saturated ones) lighter than they really are.  Looking at the blue on the actual lure my gut tells me to paint it with a high chroma, light blue, nearly straight from the tube with maybe a wee bit of white paint to open up the color!  But my experience reminds me to keep the blue darker than I think.  Some ares I even darken it slightly with the smallest percentage of black, especially moving away from the light and into the shadows.  This allows me to make that highlight pop and really read as an incredibly shiny object.

I also used this strategy with the yellow eye.  Although it reads as a yellow eye, it was darkened accordingly so that it looks like yellow in the shadow.  In my younger days I would have painted pure yellow here.  I would have been fooled by the subtle contrast.  When looking at the shadow side of an object and encountering a spot of color that is different from the surrounding color it’s easy to be fooled and overdo that colorful focal point.  But I know better now.  The yellow of the fish eye needs to be darkened to fall into the shadow just like all the surrounding colors.

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