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Beluga Sturgeon - 120cm x 61cm Acrylic on Canvas
© Craig Bertram Smith 2017
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There are some strange fish on earth. One of the most bazaar are sturgeon. There are up to 29 species
of varying shapes and sizes in the family. Most impressive are beluga sturgeon, featured in this painting. Beluga are
highly valued due to the huge amount of caviar that it produces and are farmed in controlled environments in
parts of Europe and North America. I the wild they grow as large as 2500lb and are sadly
critically endangered due to damming of rivers, habitat destruction and overfishing.

I could not have hoped for a more interesting subject to paint, and I found a lot of reference showing their features.
Most fascinating are a close-ups on the head and "snout", where their sensory pits, nostrils, barbells and tiny eyes
all point to a low visibility habitat. I had to keep on reminding my self that this is a natural scene and not an illustration
for a science fiction story!

Brown Trout Sketch - 40cm x 30cm Pencil on paper
© Craig Bertram Smith 2017
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Brown trout are one of the most beautiful freshwater fish, I just cannot pass up any opportunity to draw or paint them!

F-16 Fighting Falcon - 53cm x 35cm acrylic on Fabriano
© Craig Bertram Smith 2017
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I Have a quiet fascination for fighter planes. For me the jet age introduced technology that was
far ahead of its time. The F-16, for example, was introduced way back in 1974 and was a huge advance in
technology and design, not to mention elegant lines, flying agility and load capacity.
I wanted to portray the Fighting Falcon in its superior pose cruising above the clouds.

Sails and Sardines - 60cm x 76cm acrylic on canvas
© Craig Bertram Smith 2017
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Watching sailfish hunt, demonstrates a fish that is highly evolved for its specialized function. Excited, their
colours switch on and with their large dorsal fin, they appear to purposefully herd their prey.
Their "Sails" darken along with the rest of their bodies only separated by lighter stripes, giving the illusion of bubbles.
This visual display confuses the baitfish as they swim tightly together toward the surface, forming the
phenomena of a baitball. At this point the little fish are trapped and the sailfish now pick off the sardines,
often stunning them as they thrash their bills.

 

Napoleon Wrasse - 60cm x 50cm acrylic on canvas
© Craig Bertram Smith 2017
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Life around the reef is a fascinating mixture of colours, shapes and sizes! In the first few meters of water,
the vibrant colours of the corals are very evident but as you go deeper reds and oranges of the colour spectrum
start disappearing. This was one of my challenges in the painting. Whenever I can, I try keep things as natural as
possible including colour and lighting, as you can see in the coral I have depicted. The corals have been muted
through a filter of blue as the scene is depicted about 15 / 20 meters of depth.

Another one of my challenges was how I was going to showoff the napoleon wrasse, these fish are very
beautiful and have quite intricate patterns, which is its camaflourge. So i had to separate the fish from the busy reef
of similar colour. I decided to offset the fish against the plain deep blue and have it slightly
silhouetted against the lighter areas showing the surface light.

Lion Pair - 60cm x 75cm acrylic on canvas
© Craig Bertram Smith 2017
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Tigerfish Portrait - 42cm x 60cm Pencil on Paper
© Craig Bertram Smith 2017
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Africa's most sought after freshwater gamefish is most definitely the tigerfish. In this drawing, I wanted to portray the essence of tigerfishing, showing a collage of the fish, natural habitat and the trophy but also highlighting the ferocity of the
fish in their wild habitat!

 

Salmo Trutta - 59cm x 30cm acrylic on Fabriano
© Craig Bertram Smith 2016
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The label for the most spectacular freshwater fish, in terms of their colour and markings, has to go to the brown trout!
In this painting I wanted to celebrate this by portraying a well conditioned male trout in all its splendor holding under a tangle of
twisted roots and branches.

Yellowfish on the Orange - 120cm x 80cm acrylic on canvas
© Craig Bertram Smith 2016
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Earlier this year I was pleased to be asked to paint a scene of fishing the Orange River for smallmouth yellowfish
for a client now living abroad. I knew it was going to be a mammoth task for the size of the canvas and
the detail needed. So I presented the pencil concept sketch and, after approval, I began the meticulous
work until completion.

Mako - 40cm x 48cm acrylic on board
© Craig Bertram Smith 2016
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The mako shark, which is from the lamnidae family (Mackerel sharks), is robust and highly adapted to its high paced life. It hunts some of the fastest fish in the ocean like a range of tuna, billfish, dorado and many other pelagic's. Hooked mako's are often seen clearing the water as they make numerous jumps to rid themselves of the hook.

This has been a subject that I have wanted to paint for may years and it has been very fulfilling. I decided to include some frigate and tropic birds to indicate the presence of feeding action of the eastern little tuna. These little tuna are extremely nimble and fast as they hunt their prey. But there is always a bigger fish, and in this instance the shortfin mako shark forms the apex predator. I wanted to also add a few free riding pilot fish as well.

DH Dehaviland Mosquito - 90cm x 60cm acrylic on board
- © Craig Bertram Smith 2016
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In World War II aviation, a plane that needs little introduction is the De Thailand Mosquito, and the result of many battles won for the British.
Quite interesting is the fact that this bomber was built almost entirely of wood, and is affectionately nicknamed the "wooden wonder".

Tiger fish Drawing - 47cm x 53cm Pencil on drawing paper
- © Craig Bertram Smith 2016
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In this drawing I was asked to capture the essence of tiger fishing, which is one of my client's favourite fish to catch.
It was decided that the composition would be a collage to capture the fisherman and his quarry in equal detail.
The tigerfish was to be jumping with its menacing jaws and flared gills exposed. I decided to draw the fish the split
second it leaves the water, hinting at its habitat below the water's surface.

Pristine Waters
Acrylic on canvas 24" x 14 " (60cm X 42cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2016
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The highlands of the Eastern Cape is home to some of the most special flyfishing in our country and though
the fish that are caught there aren't record sizes, they are wild and very beautiful.
When commissioned I start with a concept sketch before I begin painting.

Peacock Bass
Acrylic on canvas 46" x 24 " (120cm X 60cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2016
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In this painting I wanted to portray peacock bass in their innate colour and attitude. Peacock bass, along with many ambush
predators, are commonly found around structure where their barred patterning is an ideal camouflage to blend
in with their background. The aggressive PB misses the fly at the split second where the branchiostegal gill rays are
extended boasting a fiery red hue, which under normal circumstances is hidden. Set in Panamanian rainforest,
I also wanted to emphasize the richness fauna and flora both above and below the water line.

Sailfish Portrait
Acrylic on canvas 20 " x 24 " (50cm X 60cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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I was asked to portray a special memory of an impressive sailfish caught on fly rod. I was given a few photos
to choose from and decided on the one in the picture. Before starting, I introduced an underwater perspective
to show the rest of sailfish creating an interesting composition. I added in a bit of cloud detail to
add to the feel of the painting.

Mangrove Snook
Acrylic on canvas 30" x 16" (75cm X 41cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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Following in my continued interest in fishes of the Florida coastline, this painting titled "Mangrove Snook" was
enjoyable to paint. Like redfish, snook are a very popular angling species.
They are an aggressive predator and a striking looking fish, most noticeable for its distinct dark lateral line.
In the painting I wanted to emphasize its natural habit of being largely an ambush hunter, commonly found
around structures like mangroves as they wait and patrol the margins for unsuspecting prey.
In this painting the snook is about to snatch a mangrove snapper.

Harbour Garrick
Pencil on Paper (60cm X 42cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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One of South Africa's favorite gamefish, garrick or leervis, are well respected for their powerful fighting abilities.
Despite being a member of the carangidae (trevally) family, garrick are clean fighters, usually staying clear
of snags and structure.

Garrick have an unmistakable appearance, with a prominent lateral line and large, sickle-shaped fins. The
prominent dorsal fin and a pronounced and slightly protruding anal fin, give the garrick its
characteristic body shape.

In the drawing, the scene is set at sunrise against the backdrop of Port Elizabeth's harbour wall. A leerie
is portrayed breaking the water's surface as it chases after a small shad. Capturing this split second of
feeding frenzy is a challenge that requires a great amount of research and study. It is very important
to me to understand how light behaves underwater and also how the fish moves,
so that I can bring the concept to life.

 

Big Red
Acrylic on canvas (75cm X 34cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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Although redfish eat a variety of prey such as mullet, menhaden, shrimp, sea robin and lizard fish, just to name a few,
they are most recognizable for feeding on crustaceans while tailing in shallow water.

In the painting entitled “Big Red”, I wanted to portray a large redfish going after a healthy sized blue crab, a resident in
Florida waters. Paying close attention to details such as the unusual scale pattern running along the sides of
the fish, and the movement of the seagrass together with the intricate patterns that are formed. The reflection on the water’s
surface is also important as it reflects the grass. Another fascination for me is the ever-changing light display as it
filters through the water.

 

Yellow Billed Hornbill
Acrylic on board (78cm X 58cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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A common sight in the African bushveld is the charismatic yellow billed hornbill. Foraging mainly on the ground in
dry grass and sandy habitat they pick out seeds, insects, spiders and scorpions.

In the painting I wanted to portray their characteristic activity showing the hornbill with a freshly caught
grasshopper snatched out from the grass. I wanted to focus primarily on the bird and grass directly behind it, applying
detail to the grass and the bold markings on the wings and breast of the hornbill. I also wanted the shape of the bird
in the picture to be echoed in the grass and sand, leading the eye from the head of the hornbill to its tail and then
following the grass diagonally to the left of the painting.

Perfect Foil
Acrylic on board (49cm X 37cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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The black marlin is one of the largest and fastest predatory fish in the ocean. Its impressive size, strength and physique
make this fish a premier angling species among sport fishermen.
The fish's real beauty can be seen when one encounters them in their natural habitat, especially if you are fortunate enough
to witness them hunting underwater. The black marlin is a fish perfectly designed for life in the open ocean, where it cruises
effortlessly in search of prey. Its deeply forked sickle-shaped fins and robust body ensure that it is able to chase down
even the quickest and most agile of prey including tuna, dorado and mackerel.
Perfect Foil portrays the black marlin's power as it charges into a large shoal of yellowfin tuna.

Trophy Rainbow Trout
Pencil on Paper (60cm X 42cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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Spot On!
Acrylic on CANVAS (90cm X 60cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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Concept Sketch

Redfish are a highly soughtafter flyfishing species. They are usually found in large shoals in late summer
over shallow, grassy bays and estuaries where they congregate to spawn. Fishing during this period is very
productive and attracts fisherman from across the globe. The great Indian river of Florida, provides a
perfect habitat of clear, shallow water where one is able to sight-cast to them.
Based on the actual event, my client explained that he wanted to commemorate this trip-of-a-lifetime
with a descriptive painting, detailing the events that happened. The painting had to depict the way redfish
congregated over the shallow, grass flats of the Indian River. A mullet imitation fly was presented on the edge
of the shoal and a single fish split away to pounce on the fly. The fly fisherman (my client) stripped rapidly
as fly was being chased down by a trophy redfish.

Bass Portrait
Pencil on paper (42cm X 60cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2015
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Lunker in the Lily Pads
Acrylic on board (70cm X 50cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
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Brown Trout on the Witte
Acrylic on board (90cm X 53cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission

King Mackerel
Acrylic on board (75cm X 60cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission

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Three Kings Yellowtail
Acrylic on board (68cm X 90cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission

Catching the Light
Acrylic on board (120cm x 40cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission

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Sea Trout
Acrylic on board (100cm x 80cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission

Black Musselcracker
Acrylic on board (75cm X 60cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission

Undercover
Acrylic on board (76cm X 61cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission

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Striped Ambush
Acrylic on board (85cm X 65cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2014
Private Commission


Concept Sketch

Sunken trees, rock piles and submerged roots are ideal structures for sheltering small bait fish.
Predators like tigerfish patrol these structures, hanging back, just out of sight of the unwary prey. The tigerfish
bursts in, tearing through a shoal of baitfish, and there is little chance of escape from some of the most
impressive teeth in the fish world.
Conceptualizing the underwater habitat of a submerged uprooted tree is both enjoyable and challenging.
Placing every branch purposefully is not only key to enhancing the flow and design of the picture but also
portraying context.

Surface Tension
Acrylic on board (80cm X 70cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2013
Private Commission


Concept Sketch

Largely regarded as the fastest fish in the ocean, the wahoo’s streamlined features allow it to travel through water
at great speed. Their jaws are lined with razor sharp teeth, capable of instantly disabling their prey with one bite.
The commission was painted to commemorate the client’s capture of a trophy wahoo caught while
trolling a large kawakawa.

Trophy Tarpon
Acrylic on canvas (100cm X 75cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2013
Private Commission


Concept Sketch

A species that I am sure is on every fisherman’s bucket list of fish to catch in their lifetime - the silver king, more commonly
known as the tarpon. Those who have experienced them, will attest to the tarpon’s supreme power and spectacular
jumping abilities.
Apart from their reputation as an angling species, tarpon are quite unusual in appearance, with primitive features such as
exaggerated silver plates on the head region and large scales covering the length of the body.

Julian's GT - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2013)
Pencil on paper (51cm X 42cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2013

Black Sparrowhawk - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2013)
Acrylic on Board (75cm X 42.5cm) - © Craig Bertram Smith 2013

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Intricate patterns, detailed design and delicate plumage, make birds very fascinating creatures. Most are phenomenally camouflaged
as seen in owls and nightjars. But it is when they take to flight, that their true wonder is revealed. Swift and agile, yet graceful
and powerful, some are long-distance travelers and others silent and stealthy hunters.

In this painting the panicked bokmackierie flies low amongst the grass dodging and diving to avoid capture. The Sparrowhawk
being equally agile, relies on its strength of speed and power to catch it’s prey.

There are many big reef predators, such as blacktip reef sharks, great barracuda and grouper, but few that demand an
angler's respect like the Giant Trevally. When it comes to overall demeanor and aggressive feeding, the giant kingfish
or giant trevally (GT) is the real deal.
GTs are mostly found around structure of varying depths and will patrol coral reefs, constantly on the move,
in search of prey.
Craig welcomed the opportunity to paint one of his favourite predators. This commissioned piece was done to depict a scene,
often experienced offshore, but rarely seen. The painting aims to put the viewer in the moment that the GT pounces on a lure.
In the early stages of the painting Craig started with more neutral tones and then built up the colours and details until the required
effect was achieved. He focused on the different textures of coral and detail in the fish itself and then contrasted it against
the deep blue haze of the background.

 

It is always inspiring to study and paint new species as was the case for my latest work of a yellowspot kingfish. This somewhat
elongated kingfish has small yellow spots interspersed with grey/black blotches on its flanks. These contrasting markings can
be quite pronounced and create attractive patterns. The play of light along the body of the fish and through the water are
important elements that illustrate the relationship between the fish and its environment; the rays of sunlight also
help to add depth to the scene.

This is a very personal painting for the client who wanted to capture the moment of landing a very memorable yellowspot
kingfish with his sons. The knowledge of what might have been attracted up from the depths, I visualized a
giant kingfish / GT just below the action..

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"Black Storm - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2012)
Acrylic on Board (90cm X 60cm)
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If there’s a fish that deserves respect as a predator it has to be the black marlin - an impressive billfish
with a bold visual design, reaching massive proportions. From tail fin to bill tip, they are a product of open water
perfection; a dominant apex predator. It is optimized for maximum efficiency in the water. feeding on anything from
tuna to even smaller billfish.

In the painting “Black Storm”, Craig emphasises the moment of encountering and catching the giant fish with the
symbolism of an imminent storm. The decision was to keep a very subtle colour pallet in the painting to compliment
the black and white of the marlin and portray a dramatic mood.

Big Blue - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2012)
Acrylic on Board (103cm X 53cm)
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The strength and majesty of billfishes are unmatched. Reaching weights of over 1500lb, they are at the top of the food chain,
an intimidating sight for any smaller fish. They move with effortless grace and are perfectly designed for speed,
making them arguably the fastest in the ocean.

Also amongst the oceans sprinters, are tuna. These medium sized yellow-fin tuna, featured in the painting, are already
efficient predators in their own right. It is incredible to note that tuna and even sometimes smaller billfish, form part
of the diet of these big fish. I wanted to exhibit this apex predator in action, emphasizing a predator so well adapted
to a high paced existence where speed really counts.

Hightailing - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2012)
Acrylic on Board (90cm X 60cm)
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A fish that needs no introduction as a saltwater flyfishing species, is the bone fish. Pound for pound, they are
possibly the strongest fish on light tackle. Their reputation is not over-stated as you will probably see your
backing every time you hook one of these speedsters.

Seeing a bonefish for the first time you really notice how well adapted this fish is. It is shaped like a bullet from
front to back ending in a highly forked tail-fin built for speed. It is mostly grey / silver with faint dark bars running down
its back. It's scales and gill plates are very reflective, like mirrors, making it virtually invisible underwater. This created
a challenge in conceptualizing this painting so I decided to offset the fish against the background blue, allowing me
to stay true to its reflective "colour" of the sandy floor.

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Blazing Glory - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2012)
Acrylic on Board (65cm X 84cm)
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The characteristic head shaking jump of a trophy tigerfish is what dreams are made of. It is a hart-stopping
moment where landing the fish or watching the lure being thrown back at you, lies in the balance.
Keeping it clear from submerged branches becomes the next challenge.

In painting “Blazing Glory ”, I made every effort to illustrate the detail in this split second flash. The tigerfish
vigorously thrashes in an aggressive shake; its jaw is extended wide open showing the workings of the
head and gill plates. And its distinctive teeth are exposed emphasizing its fearsome appearance.
I spent a lot of time working on the head, inside of the mouth and gill structure, to form the focal point in
the painting. An important element also is the splash and water spray. This conveys the movement of the
tigerfish throughout the composition.

Silent Tension - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2012)
Acrylic on Board (52cm X 65cm)
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While painting “Silent Tension” I was once again reminded of my passion for animals and love of the bush. I find great pleasure in
painting wildlife striving to express the essence of the animal and illustrating their detail. With increasing demand to paint
animal art, there will be more paintings of wildlife in the future.

This painting is to be used on an exclusive range of hunting shirts. It is an addition to the CBS clothing range that will be distributed
in many hunting stores.

Fire Tiger - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2012)
Acrylic on Board (64cm X 80cm)
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One of Africa’s most aggressive river predators, the tigerfish is able to pounce with great speed and precision disabling its prey
with one bite. Their large jaws and eyes and a sleek powerful body, make these fish extremely efficient predators.

The challenge of capturing the tigerfish’s wild ferocity in paint, is something that Craig greatly enjoys. Pencil studies,
followed by a preliminary concept sketch formed part of the preparation needed to complete “Fire Tiger”.

The attractive little spot-tail robber (Brycinus imberi) is a common species found in the middle & lower Zambezi. In this painting,
robbers are chased up from the papyrus edge by tigerfish patrolling along the edges.

Red Rover - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2012)
Acrylic on Board (90cm X 120cm)
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Already Inspired by the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef, it didn’t take any convincing when Craig was asked to paint a GBR reef scene.
A wonderland of coral reefs and fantastical creatures at every glance, these coral shelves are alive with a kaleidoscope of colour
complete with organisms of different shape, form and size.

The main character in the painting is the bar-cheek coral trout. A predominantly red-coloured fish, highlighted by electric blue spots,
its name refers to the characteristic blue bars along the gill plates or cheeks, one of the major features differentiating it from similar
species like the common coral trout.

Craig wanted to emphasise a colourful coral reef scene heaving with life, showing different species of fish, large and small,
existing harmoniously in their habitat, and drawing attention to a complex variation of coral textures, form and colour.

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Kob on the Rocks - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2011)
Acrylic on Board (54cm X 74.5cm)
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The dusky kabeljou is a robust silver fish with a hint of subtle pink along the dorsal surface. The lateral line is very well
developed with noticeable silver spots running down the flanks. Kob are extremely effective hunters, relying on their
lateral line as they hunt in low light conditions.

Kob are prized amongst rock and surf anglers. They are found along the Southern African coast line and grow to in
excess of 70 kilogrammes. These days though they are becoming increasingly difficult to find due to over fishing.
Of concern is the fact that large fish, which are usually killed, are prime breeding specimens, while only the
smaller sexually immature fish are released. The result
is that most of the fish caught and released aren’t sexually
mature, resulting in limited breeding stock.

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Green Goblin' - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2011)
Acrylic on Board (74cm X 104cm)
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Observing bass habitat, such as flooded timber, I am inspired imagining a fantastical world of claw-like roots, dark holes and
big ambush predators. The mysterious murky depths offer so many hiding places for these large-mouthed hunters.Suspended
like ghosts, bass hover in structure, perfectly camouflaged and waiting for the ideal moment to pounce. In this case,
Rapala's DT-6 crawdad pattern is just too irresistible to ignore.

While painting, I had to visualize an aquatic habitat with gnarled roots and branches that would suggest the perfect territory
for a large bass. A challenging project, as freshwater habitat such as this has a muted colour pallet with subtle colour variations.
I ended up testing different possible background ideas and ultimately re-painting over to try other ideas. After many initial
attempts, I finally chose flat open water just past the roots which defined the shape of the fish and the structure. It was
satisfying when I finally realized that the painting was coming "alive" with a balance of texture and calm. the visual path flows
through the painting as the focus is initially drawn to the bass and lure, moving down to the roots and then past to
the murky distance.

Carpe Diem - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2011)
Acrylic on Board (80cm X 101cm)
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Carp fishing, a relaxing pastime, synonymous with carefully prepared flavored baits, creating feeding grounds, patience and a little bit of
luck. They are beautiful fish, not sleek speedsters like the blue water game fish, but challenging and full of character and charm.
Not to be underrated though, they are no push over especially when using fly fishing tackle, an exhilarating method of fishing for them. When
stalking the big specimens, they fight hard, but the biggest challenge is getting your fly close to their mouths and knowing when they
have taken it. Crust fishing is a lot of fun too, just a hook with a floating crust. Whether targeting them on fly or
specimen fishing with boilies, carp are one of most adored freshwater species worldwide.

In general carp are found in murky water due to their feeding habits. They are the grazers of the mud flats sifting through the debris
for morsels of food. This was tricky to conceptualize as I wanted to show carp in their natural habitat with their interesting fin, scale
and mouth detail but without losing too much of it due to the murkiness of the water. Quite noticeable when stalking them are their orange
mouths and fins of which I emphasized. I wanted to demonstrate their feeding habits as they use their mouths as hoovers to suck up
and taste the mud, separating food particles. They are social, often found in groups when feeding, I took the
the opportunity to paint a mirror carp variant, shifting over to the next feeding section.

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Angler and GT Drawing - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2011)
Pencil (42cm X 52cm)
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Sketching or painting giant kingfish is always a humbling experience reminding me of the monsters that lurk in the blue depths
and those that are just un-catchable due to their size and strength. I also realize that I should be spending more of my time on the
water - the environment where I draw so much of my inspiration from. Every species of fish that I catch is a gift and a special moment,
but I feel in awe when in the presence of a GT. They are a top predator, embodying the very essence of brute strength.

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Africa, wild and untamed, possesses some of the world’s most ferocious predators. Its rivers in particular are full of fearsome
beasts such as crocodile, hippopotamus and the infamous tigerfish. This predator is without doubt the fiercest fresh water
fish in appearance and character. The "water dog", as its scientific name suggests, is the ultimate river predator: Razor-sharp teeth
perfectly designed for disabling it's prey, powerful streamlined body, efficient sickle shaped fins and of course large eyes for hunting.
By holding or patrolling around structure they wait for an opportune moment. Their pounce is fast and brutal as shown in the painting
where bulldog fish are caught unawares.

Apart from its obvious characteristics, the tiger is a fascinating fish. Their colours vary from place to place, but is mostly
strong with deep red fins and dark stripes, so it was only obvious that I wanted to portray this intensity in the painting. What
interested me the most was the intricacies of the fins, scales and head detail, which I put of a lot of study into. I wanted to
illustrate its true nature and the essence of its character interacting with the environment. This continuity was important to
connect the habitat to the fish in a way that best explains its character.

 

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Bass Illustration - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2011)
Pencil (42cm X 30cm)
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Electric Blue

Fishes of the tropical seas are some of the most beautiful and inspiring to me. The colours found on the majority of
tropical species are often overlooked as the blue depths wash out most colour. But near the surface , the sun's rays are still strong
enough to reveal their magical hues. This is the case of the bluefin trevally / kingfish, at depth it is a drab and
pale, but close to the surface it is vibrant and vivid.

A highly prized angling species among light tackle fishermen, the bluefin is a bold, aggressive predator yet it's striking electric blues
contrasting against copper flanks make it one of the most beautiful. The fins, spots and edges are so intense that it is as if the colours
are lit up from beneath the skin, which in fact they partly are.

I wanted to emphasize the fishes ‘metallic’ colours throughout the body, presenting the fine details of scales,
spots and fin rays. I wanted to paint the kingfish fully illuminated in an excited state as it chases the fly.
The challenge for me was to bring out the "electric" blues against the predominantly blue background.
The movement in the scene is enhanced by the wave crashing against the edge of the reef.

Turned-on - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2011)
Acrylic on Board (180cm X 85cm)
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For the most part the open ocean is seemingly lifeless. But creatures here live a nomadic existence traveling many
kilometers every day from one feeding ground to the next. And where the seas are teaming with life on one day,
they are desolate the next.

Sailfish are just one of the many pelagic fish that travel great distances in search of food. But they are arguably the
most spectacular. Besides being the fastest fish in the sea they are also one of the most elegant. Sailfish have specialized
hunting techniques. Traveling in packs, they herd bait fish from the depths to the surface. The bait fish are then
kept together in a tight rippling ball as the sailfish, with their characteristic sails extended, circle around from all directions.
Each fish then takes turns to snatch fish from the peripheries. They often slash their bills through the shoal disabling
individuals to be snapped up.

This epic phenomenon is something that has fascinated Craig and was the inspiration for what is his biggest painting.
Other species often gather to take advantage of bonanzas like these so he added a few dorado or mahi mahi.
An obvious choice, given their spectacular ability to “flash” yellow and blue when excited.

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Big Brown - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2011) Pencil (42cm X 60cm)
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Iggy Pop - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on board(70cm X 50cm)
Original SOLD

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The inspiration for this painting came from a trip I had to Mozambique's Hells Gate - a narrow channel of water that
connects Maputo bay to the Indian ocean. Fishing off a rubber duck 100 meters from the shore, conditions were
perfect, a pushing tide and as can be imagined the volume of water funneling through, became a washing
machine of turbulent water. We popped live sardines on a surface trace with a float and cast in a section of extremely
churning water pushing over a reef. The conditions created an ideal feeding zone for kingfish.

Three or four large GT's were spotted and seconds later I had a massive surface hit on my helpless sardine. The battle
was on! It was a struggle just keeping it away from the reef, as meters upon meters of braid were being peeled
off - a miracle it never broke me off. The legendary strength of an Ignobilis is phenomenal and after 20 minutes
my prized fish was landed. A few quick photos were taken and then the brute of a fish was released.

The conditions, weather and just the memory of watching that large GT smashing into the bait at the surface was
something that will be with me for a very long time. Earlier this year I started working on a concept for a new
GT painting. It would be a popping scenario as I envisaged the fish swooping onto a Darkstar skipjack popper.
While working through the concept with the help of numerous video & photographic footage and conversations
with GT fanatics, the challenge was on. As is the difficulty with most of my paintings, that actual shot
(the fish at the moment of impact) was inaccessible and still is! I had to visualize the scene using what
reference I had in photographs and video clips and making pencil studies to understand the fish’s
movement, colours and attitude. The lighting was also a challenge and by trying different options in
my sketches and in the painting, a composition was visualized and the scene was put together.

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Elusive - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Pencil (60cm X 42cm)
COMMISSION

I have recently had the privilege of sketching the beautiful small-scale yellowfish in its natural habitat - “Elusive”.
I was commissioned to draw the fish, moments before grabbing a dragon fly nymph. It was framed and delivered
to Mr. Harding (owner of Aloe Creek) who gave us the opportunity to fish his stretch of wild Elands river for Large
and small-scale yellowfish.

Being a commissioned piece, it is not available as a print. However, one single canvas gicleé, courtesy of
Mr. Harding was printed and framed. It was auctioned at the 2010 Sterkfontein fly fishing event where the
proceeds go to the conservation trust fund for the protection of yellowfish in Sterkfontein dam.

 

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Andre Van Wyk and Giant Kingfish - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Pencil (42cm X 60cm)
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Message from Andre Van Wyk:

"Mate, all I can say is that I am completely, and totally gob smacked!!!! Absolutely incredible.. I knew you were good mate, but I had no idea the sketch would turn out this well... My friend you truly are an absolute wizard, magician, master, and of course artist par excellence!!! THANK YOU!

I am super super stoked mate! Craig once again thank you so much, I am awe struck mate!"

 

Digging In - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on canvas (76cm X 101cm)

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The Cape coasts of South Africa, experience some of the harshest conditions in the country with strong winds and
bad weather giving the water a characteristic murk of suspended debris and turbulence. Wind swept seas and
ripping waves create an environment where only the toughest survive.

Also known as the pignose grunter, the white steenbras navigates, swims and feeds in
these conditions with great ease. They are usually found in shallow turbulent water and estuaries. They are
robust fish, mostly silvery gray with darker bars running down the back, and have a characteristic pignosed snout.
They have a highly specialized feeding ability like its relative the spotted grunter's, of "snouting"and "blowing".
They shove their elongated snouts into the sand and literally"blow" their prey out of the sand.
They feed aggressively as they patrol the sandy turbulent shores for sand dwelling crustaceans.

In this painting I wanted to describe it's natural behavior by illustrating it's unique habitat and suggesting
its feeding techniques. This painting presented a real challenge primarily because these temperate
waters are mostly very murky and monotone. This resulted in a painting with a very limited colour pallet.
I therefore enhanced the muted greens and blues to highlight main characters in the piece. I also echoed the
shape of the steenbras in the ripples of the sand. I followed these shapes in the moving rhythms from the
sand to the surface water.


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North American Bison - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Pencil (42cm X 50cm)
ORIGINAL AVAILABLE

* Now Available as a Canvas Giclee Print

Initially I had planned to follow through to a full colour painting with this pencil study, but, in the end, I was in two minds.
I always thought that it just worked so well as a pencil piece on its own, and so the original drawing and
giclée canvas prints have now been made available.

Ever since I was a young boy, Bison fascinated me - the large woolly buffalo of the North American plains!
They just seemed prehistoric, as if they could be imagined roaming the icy plains with other creatures
like mammoths and sabre-tooths! Almost hunted to extinction in the late 1800's, with only a few hundred remaining,
my impression of the American buffalo was almost fated to become the same as those prehistoric
animals! Thankfully they were saved and protected and have made a come-back, roaming in good numbers
free from hunting and is now a treasured icon.

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Justin and the Giant Kingfish - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Pencil (42cm X 50cm)COMMISSION

A catch of a lifetime, estimated to be a 65 - 70kg kingfish. This beast of a fish was caught on a popper.
The kingfish must have looked like a small submarine as it pounced on the lure - enough to make anyone
week in the knees!

Show Time - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on board (65cm X 84cm)
COMMISSION

Apart from being one of the fastest fish in the sea, sailfish are also strikingly beautiful. Although usually
a maroon-brownish colour, once they become excited or agitated they can literally ‘switch on’ a palette of vivid,
electric blues and violets that flash and ripple in light and dark shades across their body. It is thought that
part of the reason they do this is to confuse prey.

In the painting I have aimed to illustrate this phenomenon, and so the jumping, agitated fish is shown ‘lit up’.
Bands of vivid ultramarine along the fish’s flanks are interspersed with very subtle browns and tans that contrast
strongly with the deep, metallic turquoise along its back. Interestingly, I discovered that the normally
brownish-maroon dorsal fin shows up as ultramarine when backlit, which is how the dorsal fin is
shown here, being partially illuminated from behind by the sun.

As this painting's primary purpose was to be used as a design for the owner's fishing boat, the colours
were intentionally enhanced
.


Preliminary Drawing (Approved by the client before the painting is started)

Ambush - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on board (45cm X 38cm)
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There are not many species of fish that can boast being bright, luminous greens and partly because of the
intense depth of this colour that almost glows from under the skin, the nembwe is a most striking
freshwater species,

The nembwe is an African cichlids and a robust, aggressive and territorial predator. They lie in ambush amongst
flooded timber, weed beds, or rocks, and are eagerly sought and enjoyed by anglers who chase them on lure and fly.

In this painting I wanted to capture the nembwe’s personality and character, and have shown it rushing from its
lair while the bulldog fish, a tiny indigenous fish (and interesting in their own right), desperately try and
escape the gaping maw.

The painting was designed as a logo for Afri-G Adventures and also a tattoo, but the original has been
framed and put on display.

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The Spanish Armada - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on board (30cm X 42.5cm)
SOLD

**Also available as a A2 Canvas print (48cm x 60cm)

Spanish or king mackerel (couta) are powerful and voracious feeders with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. Apart from their dental armoury, they are highly streamlined and their sickle shaped tails allow them to reach speeds of up to 75km/h, making them the ultimate open water hunter.

They are a pelagic species and highly migratory, travelling thousands of kilometers. I wanted to indicate this in the painting showing a school of them in the middle of their journey, heading for better feeding grounds - possibly the Natal coast in search of sardines.

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Top Dog - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on Canvas (76cm X 101cm)
COMMISSIONED - SOLD

Dogtooth tuna are a non-pallagic species patrolling deep drop offs, seamounts and steep underwater walls where they hunt other reef species. I wanted to emphasize its hunting habits by painting the scene in deep and low light conditions.

It is a powerful predator that is perfectly adapted to dark conditions as they possess large eyes, big jaws filled with fangs and streamlined torpedo-shaped bodies. In this piece I painted it chasing down one of the ocean speedsters - Kawa kawa to underline its agility and speed.


Preliminary Drawing (Approved by the client before the painting is started)

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Quick on the Trigger - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on Canvas (90cm X 120cm)
AVAILABLE

The Yellow-margin Triggerfish is quite an interesting character of the tropical flats. They hover around using mostly pectoral, dorsal and anal fins, the tail is only really used for quick bursts of speed.

In the painting I wanted the corals in the foreground very detailed. The branched staghorn coral echoes the intricate patterns of the light on the sea floor and the yellow tabletop staghorn coral draws the viewer to the focal point. The chartreuse of the crab pattern is also used to echo the colours of the main character which leads ones eye to the action of the painting.

I enjoy painting a scene from two different perspectives, water and air. Clouds form interesting abstract shapes and also create the mood. I wanted to convey a sense of eminent tension as the cumulonimbus storm clouds build in the background, the present pristine conditions could change at any time. Nature is of course anything but predictable.

 


Preliminary Drawing

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Fur and Hair - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on Canvas (90cm X 60cm)
COMMISSIONED - SOLD

The most recognised animal of the African savannah, the lion, a very social cat, surviving in tight groups, unlike there
other relatives, where they exist as a unit hunting and feeding together. They form lifetime bonds in the pride protecting
and caring for each other. This social behavior is their strength.

In the painting I wanted to explore all the textures, from the harsh dry grasses, to animal's variety of fur and hair.
I worked meticulously at the male lion's thick main of hair as I wanted a very real and tactile sensitivity to the painting.
I also wanted to evoke a personal emotion by creating mood with the somber earthy tones.

Response from the buyer:

"I received the painting this past Monday, it is EVERYTHING I'VE ALWAYS WANTED, and absolutely breathtaking!!!
I love it! I am also so happy that everything worked out!!!" - Ranata Lee, Maryla
nd, USA

Preliminary Drawing (Approved by the client before the painting is started)

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Break Away - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2010)
Acrylic on Canvas (120cm X 80cm)
AVAILABLE

Ignobilis,a fierce and powerful predator of the tropical reefs. One of the most sought-after and respected game fish
targeted by sport fisherman. A hard fighting fish that will put you to the test.
They are truly the lords of the reefs, capable of out-swimming and maneuvering any bait fish it comes across.

Here one large Kingfish breaks away from the group in pursuit of a shoal of fusiliers. Often patrolling the edge
of the reefs, they pounce on anything unlucky to be intercepted by it. A special request from the owner of this painting
was to add a interesting little fish, the undulate triggerfish, in the bottom right hand corner.

Preliminary Drawing

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Giant Kingfish (Caranx ignobilis) - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2009)
Acrylic on Board (45cm X 45cm)
SOLD

I recently went on a trip to Mozambique which was a definite highlight this for 2009.
The fishing was great and I was able to land and photograph a number of fish species
including a large Giant Kingfish (Caranx Ignobilis). The trip was highly inspirational
and as a result, I am planning on painting more of these, my favorite Kingfish
species in the new year.
 

The painting featured below is a small commissioned piece, which is the first
of many GT paintings to come

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River Keeper - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2009)
Acrylic on Board (80cm X 52cm)
SOLD

The elusive brown trout - robust  and an aggressive predator, but selective to what it feeds on.
It is not the easiest trout species to catch, but definitely one of the most treasured. Brown trout and especially the wild variety have some of the most beautiful markings imaginable. Here a male cock fish is indicated with a pronounced kype, evident in older wiser brown trout.  It is examining a large dragonfly imitation. 

"River  Keeper"  has been sensitively painted  to show every intricate detail from scales, fin ray and rock texture to the water's reflection. The detail brings the splendor of the brown trout to life as it would be in the wild.
ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY or enquire about the original

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Yellow-margin Triggerfish - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2009)
Oil on Canvas (70cm X 90cm)
COMMISSIONED - SOLD

Just one of the many fish species found on the coral-line flats - the Yellow-margin triggerfish is often seen cruising in pursuit of crabs and other hard shelled crustaceans. Shifting over the coral debris and sand, they give them selves away by the sight of the tips of their tails swaying out of the water while feeding. They seem to hover with just their pectoral, dorsal and anal fins rippling. This strange and eccentric yet beautiful looking fish is striking in its own right. Full of contrasting patterns, the head region being smooth with subtle yellows and pinks, the scaly body and also fins showing very intricate patterns.

While studying this species, sketching and reading, I was amazed and fascinated by their powerful jaws. Lined with round, blunt molars - teeth that are able to crush corals, crabs and other hard shelled molluscs with little effort. Even fishing hooks and flies twist and buckle under the pressure from their powerful jaws as the fish crunches down

Preliminary Drawing (Approved by the client before the painting is started)

It is always important to me that the habitat of the fish be accurate and just as lifelike as the subject. I wanted to enhance the lighting with intricate patterns and shapes made by the light as it refract though the water on the coralline floor. The water surface is shown in detail, reflecting the sandy floor and also reflecting the triggerfish. I have indicated the dorsal and anal fins rippled and beating as is characteristic of this species. The tip of the tail is seen just breaking the surface.

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Earl Strydom (renowned fishing guide and lodge owner) with his record 54kg Kingfish
-
(Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2009)
Pencil (30cm X 35cm)
COMMISSIONED

 

Click to view largerCaranx Ignobilis Concept drawing

Preliminary Drawing
(Approved by the client before the painting is started)

The Reef Kings - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2009)
Oil on Canvas (70cm X 100cm)
COMMISSIONED - SOLD

"The Reef Kings" is a commissioned piece, painted to record the memories of fishing on the maldives. One of the most sought after species, the Giant Kingfish (G. T.) is featured here as the "King" of the reef.

The proud owner of this painting, Petrus Gous made the following comments

"When commissioning Craig I had the following in mind, and I included it in my brief to Craig:

Having had the privilege of fishing various tropical islands for GT's on the fly, I have often wondered how the encounter between angler and prey is viewed and experienced by the fish, and what would the perspective be from the fish's point of view? On a recent Fly fishing trip in the Maldives, I had a few opportunities to ambush incoming GT's cruising in the faces of the breaking waves on the pushing tide as they waited to enter the flats via the cuts in the reef, while I was standing on the outer atoll coral reef bommies facing the open ocean. I had to synchronize my casting and retrieving into my stripping basket with the rhythm of the relentlessly breaking waves while trying to retain my balance, and I succeeded in hooking and landing a few of these marauders! I wanted to capture that experience forever in a painting destined for my study, to be able relive those moments over and over again, and to freeze that specific underwater moment milliseconds before the Flashy Profile Fly is smashed by a Giant Kingfish, from its perspective, with the angler only visible through the face of the breaking wave in silhouette.

Craig's painting evokes that special instant perfectly, and every time I admire the painting I am momentarily once more transported to that deserted outer reef, and I can smell and taste the salt air, hear the crashing of the waves on the coral buttress and the sound of the 12 weight fly line being retrieved through the rod eyes, feel the relentless pounding of the breaking waves, the sinuous fly line between my fingers and the accelerating rhythms of my heartbeat, and visualise that special moment of anticipation just before the fly is smashed while I am stripping the fly as fast as I can...

Well done Craig!!!" - Dr. Petrus Gous

 

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Sailfish Launch - (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2009)
Oil on Canvas (76cm X 101cm)
SOLD

>>>Email for a quote and details<<<

In my latest oil painting, I wanted to take the viewer into the world of high swells, wind, rain and leaping billfish. A world that in it’s grandness can leave one awestruck, not only for the wondrous creatures but also it’s impressive power.

The fastest fish in the sea, sailfish are just one of many oceanic inhabitants that evoke vivid images of the tug-of-war between fishermen and blue-water brute. A battle that usually results in bruised egos or broken tackle. They symbolize power, speed and agility that few other game fish can match. A hook-up with a sailfish can leave you with some of the most memorable fishing.

Craig wanted to depict the sea and environment “alive”, ever-changing and tangible. The fishing boat is pictured being fragile against the rising and falling swell. The misty rain, creating the mood, draws the eye past the boat only to be brought back into the picture by the presence of the sailfish rising diagonally, piercing through the mist.

The sailfish, being the focus, had to be painted in great detail with the characteristic “Sail” fully outstretched. The fly, tossing as the fish tries to rid of it, allows the viewer to derive their own result. The sight of gulls indicates a presence of bait-fish that are close to the surface.

 

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The Back-line Greyhounds - Garrick / Leervis (Copyright Craig Bertram Smith-2009)
Oil on Canvas (91cm X 61cm)
COMMISSIONED - SOLD

As the waves roll in while fishing off the rocks, I often find my self imagining what is actually happening just below the surface. I have seen ghost-like shadows of predators bursting through the surf in pursuit of their prey. Above water, on the other hand, it remains an eerie experience. Nearly everything that happens below the water is left to my imagination, where the predators show up as monsters with grizzly teeth.This has fed my life-long obsession with water and the ocean. It has inspired me to conjure up scenes and stories which I have portrayed in my paintings.

This commissioned piece presented quite a challenge. The idea requested was to paint an underwater scene of Garrick (Leervis) hunting, but at the same time showing the fly fisherman stripping the fly through the surface water. This inspired me so much!
In my mind I was replaying experiences of watching the waves rise and build up to crash on the rocks. This gave me the perfect opportunity to delve into these scenes.

 

Preliminary Drawing (Approved by the client before the painting is started)

After extensive research I began sketching, ending up with a conceptual drawing. I wanted to portray the Garrick chasing after a fly rather than have the fish already hooked. This enhanced the tension in the painting - the viewer becomes the participant - at this point there is no predictable outcome. This leads one to be drawn into the scenario and become a part of the painting. Two other Garrick are seen in the background, as they often hunt in small groups. Mullet dash away for cover. The water level cuts diagonally through the painting, and above it the habitat of the fisherman.

We have quite rough seas in South Africa with great waves and strong currents. I wanted to indicate the turbulence of the water by giving movement as the strands of kelp fronds ripple and wave in the tossing sea. Garrick are often found patrolling just behind the back-line where the waves start forming, so I felt that I needed to show them swimming through.

I really enjoyed painting the intricate patterns of light on the fish in the foreground, it's reflection off the water above it, as well as the subtle rock structure and seaweed suggested in the watery mist.

 

 

 

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All artwork and text is copyright 2009 Craig Bertram Smith. All rights reserved.
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