By John Frazier
SIMMS AMBASSADOR, JEFF CURRIER RECREATES A CATCH OF A LIFETIME.
When you travel to the far reaches of the earth to catch a fish of a lifetime and actually do, how do you document it? For Jed Mixter of Jackson Hole Wyoming, a photo of a 68 inch Guyanese arapaima wouldn’t suffice. Instead, he called upon an angler who has been there and done that in fisheries most can only dream of. To document his catch, Mixter commissioned Simms ambassador, Jeff Currier to paint a lifesize keepsake of his catch.
According to Currier, arapaima was a fish he’s long known of and always wanted to catch. The sheer size and eel-like body structure always intrigued him and even though his travels had taken him to some of the most remote locales in the world, arapaima was one species he had not yet been able to check off his list.
“In March of 2014, Jed asked if I’d be willing to paint a lifesize painting of a 68 inch arapaima he landed in Guyana. I had always been fascinated with arapaima but hadn’t had the privilege of catching one myself. That being said, I felt a little funny painting a fish I hadn’t ever caught but it sounded like a very cool project so I planned on getting started in April. That was put on hold because an opportunity to fish the Red Sea in Sudan came up so I pushed the project back until May but then a really unique opportunity to participate in a mahseer relocation plan in Bhutan came about so I pushed it back again. Things just kept getting in the way. Luckily, Jed was very patient and as luck would have it, an opening for a trip to Guyana opened up to me in November. Without even looking at my calendar, I accepted and it turned out to be a trip of a lifetime. I was very fortunate and ended up landing three arapaima on that trip. Actually getting up close and personal with these fish really gave me confidence and inspiration when I returned home to sit down and start and complete the largest piece of art I’ve ever created.” says Currier.
For Currier, all of his art begins with a light pencil sketch. When a rough outline has taken shape, he goes back in and begins adding color. “On this painting, I started with the head, then drew every scale one by one and colored them in which is why the entire painting took upwards of two weeks to complete and that was working on it every day.” says Currier.
If you think Currier has a big, wide open studio to work on his art, you’d be wrong. Instead, Currier’s kitchen serves as his studio. “I do all my artwork right at the kitchen table, well, that is until this job came about. It was too big, so I converted our kitchen counter to a temporary workspace. It was a royal inconvenience for my wife and I ended up taking her to dinner almost every night to make up for it, not to mention, the piece was so big, there was no chance to cook in our kitchen until it was complete.” says Currier. “In the end, it was a piece that took a ton of work but I’m actually very thankful things kept getting in the way of getting it started. It was meant to be because it’s so hard to paint a fish I’ve never held. These monsters have a very peculiar head shape and small eyes that I would not have gotten correct had I not caught one for myself. And the red in the scales, you have to see it face to face to believe it. I would have definitely not made his fish nearly as colorful had I not actually caught one. Bottom line, it really paid off for Jed to wait for his fish until I caught one. Jed already has the piece hanging in his living room. It looks spectacular if I do say so myself. I wish I had a larger house — if I did, I’d paint another one for me.”