Winslow Homer concluded the watercolor painting entitled Adirondack Catch in 1889, while on one of his many trips to the North Woods Club. The Adirondack Mountains are located in the countryside of the state of New York, where many people would go to practice sports outdoors while surrounded by breathtaking nature – two themes that Homer was enthusiastic about portraying in his artwork. The painter took advantage of these trips with magnificent views to experiment with watercolor painting more freely; a medium Homer turned to in the early 1870s.
The American artist began his career working with commercial illustration and went to Virginia to become an on-location artist for the Civil War, depicting what he saw. He also worked for Harper’s Magazine traveling to tropical locations, like the Bahamas, to portray the landscapes and typical life of the locals, mainly in watercolor. Eventually, in 1875 Homer stopped working with freelance illustration altogether and dedicated himself entirely to building his artistic career. The artist was profoundly influenced by nature and painted mostly on location – his choice of medium was perfect for outdoors painting because of its practicality. He strived to portray life as he saw it and to observe the natural lighting upon a landscape. This technique was made famous by the Impressionists of Paris, even though Homer already worked similarly before meeting the group of modern painters.
The watercolor Adirondack Catch shows a detail of a fishing expedition – the catch. The central image is a group of about four fish hung on a tree trunk. The fish are fresh and painted with great precision and detail. Their back is a beautiful dark blue-gray pigment that gradients to an off-white belly, as well as small fins in red-brown. With large dark eyes and mouths wide open, the catch has already stopped their struggle long ago – Homer did not shy away from the raw and brutal aspects of humankind and nature.
The trunk is on the same plane as the central figures but was loosely painted, with visible brush strokes of brown, just as the background, giving the painting an almost abstract feel. The vegetation in the back was depicted as if it were a blurry vision in a blend of many tonalities of ochre and green for the plants, and a violet-blue mountain in the far background. This artwork is an excellent example of how Homer was able to blend different painting styles into one to make it his own.
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