I've hunted my whole life.
During this same length of time, I've also been an artist. I've learned a lot about hunting and art over the years, seen failure and success in both, and seem to grow in both arenas each season.
As my passion for hunting and art has grown over the years, I can't escape the similarities between the two. In my career as a wildlife artist, it's become nearly impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends. Hunting influences my art, and art influences my hunting. Experiences afield fuel creative new ideas in my studio, and the demands of creating art have caused me to look my time in the field differently.
Hunting, like art, is: An Obsession
Mossy Oak says it best. "It's not a passion, it's an obsession." Truer words have never been spoken to describe both hunting and art. Obsession is defined as "an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind."
My boy Webster nailed it.
Are you the spouse of a die-hard turkey hunter? My wife Kim is, and she gets it. Chances are, if I go quiet and eyes glaze over when we're out to dinner during April, I'm either suffering from a month's worth lack of sleep (quite possible) or I'm thinking about where to set up the next morning. "Should I gamble and try to get to that white oak before first light? Or sit high in the pasture to and let him gobble before I make a move?" If I've got a bird roosted, just forget about conversation — my mind is focused on that bird. Kim might as well just talk to the napkin.
Hunter's don't just enjoy hunting, we live and breathe it. We dream about it. We talk about it with buddies. We watch ridiculous TV shows about it. We anticipate opening day like 4 year olds do Christmas morning. It's an obsession, and we embrace it.
Of all hunters, I've always felt that duck hunters went to the most extremes. Waking up at 2:30, driving to the boat ramp, putting in, loading dogs and gear, driving a half hour upstream in the dark, enduring awful weather and maybe, just maybe, shooting a few ducks before working just as hard to get back to civilization. It's insane. I've never seen anyone go to those lengths for anything. That is, until I became a professional artist.
There's a reason artists get branded as weird, sketchy (no pun intended) and spacey. Our minds are often stuck in the studio no matter where we are physically. We're preoccupied with creating and obsessed with the creative process, the journey of taking an image from an idea as vague as a foggy spring morning to something as detailed and colorful as the breast feathers on a strutting longbeard. The possibilities we dream of drive us to pursue our craft at ridiculous hours and at often extreme sacrifices.
In the same way my mind wanders during turkey season, it goes AWOL after a long day in the studio. We can be at a restaurant and I'll see a color reflected on a wall and think to myself "I wonder if I could take Burnt Sienna, some Lemon Yellow and Warm White and mix that color.....wait, that's too warm......it'll take a touch of Ultramarine to cool it off. Yeah, yeah that's it. I could mix that color." Poor Kim.
Obsessions, like any double-edged sword (or hunting knife if you will), can lead us to greatness if we're pursuing the right things. Obsession drives us to be better versions of ourselves. If I had to choose two things to be obsessed with, hunting an art are two of the best I can think of. Somehow, by the grace of God, I've managed to blend them into a life and a career, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
This spring, remember that Hunting is an Art, and embrace the obsession. Purchase your own "Hunting is an Art" Signature Series T-Shirt below and wear it with pride this spring.