"Ted's Red & Aqua Plug" • Oil • John Morfis

Ted’s Red & Aqua Plug Painting

"Ted's Red & Aqua Plug" • Oil • John Morfis
“Ted’s Red & Aqua Plug” • 15×8 • Oil • John Morfis

My cousin loaned me this vintage, wooden fishing plug. He had it in a bucket with other dirty plugs. Some he found in his travels about the sea, other lures were given to him. Fishermen accumulate an awful lot of tackle over time it seems. I’m not even sure if he used this one but it definitely caught my eye the first time I saw it.

The plug is constructed of painted wood and has an orange spherical eyeball that pops out, right off the lure in fact, like a little spherical gem. I didn’t realize how great that little eyeball was until I put the plug under my lights and started painting it. The eyeball glowed with great saturation. Because I paint mostly wooden objects with tarnished metals I rarely have the opportunity to use orange paint; at least not the saturated variety. I used some cadmium yellow deep and burnt sienna to get a range of color from more saturated yellow-orange to less saturated orange. Any painter can tell you just how extremely saturated cadmium colors are.

This plug definitely required some cleaning up before I could use it for a still life painting. Although I definitely favor old, beat-up objects, I’m not really into painting dirt or grime. Rust, tarnish, patina, (what ever you want to call it) is certainly welcomed though. I also like taking advantage of nicks, scratches and dents. These types of surface indentations are actually really easy to paint and always become a crowd pleaser. Little occurrences of wear seem to grab viewer’s attention and let them know that the object has a history.

This fishing plug was the first one I used a wire leader on. My uncle makes custom wire leaders that he uses when he fishes for bluefish. The sharp teeth of a bluefish can rather easily chomp right through regular fishing line so a metal wire is used for the first part of fishing line closest to the lure. I had my uncle custom make this length for me. He happily cut the wire and used his special crimp tool to create the right length wire used in this painting. It’s hard to tell in the photo here but the swivel’s greenish patina goes quite nicely with the green color of the plug.


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