In March of each year I show my maritime art in the Fred Hall Fishing Tackle and Boat Show at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. It is very different from the experience of gallery receptions or outdoor art shows. Some 80,000 people attend over the course of 5 days. Most of the attendees are not very interested in art, but the ones that are make the event worthwhile for me. I've had great conversations and sold art to tugboat operators, commercial fishermen, boat captains, the Coast Guard, members of congressional environmental study groups, restaurant owners, other artists, boat owners and salesmen. I've talked with people who know the places I've painted and who recommend other things to see and paint. I've traded art for my kayak and for chartered fishing trips. Sportsmen conventions can be a great fit for some artists. The artists that participate are all accomplished. They include, for example, Robert Steiner who has won more duck stamp competitions (Federal and State) than any other artist.
I personally have been most impressed by the art of Tom Robison from Klamath Falls, Oregon. Tom owns Pacific Northwest Metal Arts. His art is life-like metal sculpture as seen in the figures. His particular ability to represent pelagic ocean fish with unmatched realism and drama is remarkable. Tom uses 1/8th inch thick cold-rolled sheets of carbon steel to create his compositions.
He cuts and bends the steel to shape. He then uses torch heat to cause the steel to take on permanent colors that are a function of the temperature. Tom says the steel begins to turn from silver to gold at about 500 F. If he continues heating, the surface changes from gold to brown, to a deep brown-purple, to royal blue, to silver-blue, to silver-violet, to violet, and finally to blue-green at the highest temperatures. In addition to shape and color, Tom adds surface textures and details by scribing, grinding, sanding, and polishing the metal. The art is finished with a clear coat to enhance and preserve the coloring. I find myself starring closely at his work thinking it is highly 3-dimensional only to be fooled by the optics that he is able to achieve with the treated metal surfaces. Tom has a unique talent and is committed to making quality art at affordable prices.