"When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe". (Henri Matisse)
This story begins far from the world of Henri Matisse, but remains deeply connected to it. When we published the first edition of Bassman Magazine last June,
we began to receive mail. Tons of it. We received pictures of bass, pictures of people catching bass, pictures of boats, and hundreds of letters of support. One package stood out, however.
It was a thick, brown envelope and the address was handwritten. Was it a lure? Was it a hat? No,
it was a note from Charles or Chuck Weiss (see photo),
a local Canadian artist whose art ranges from beautiful paintings of bass, walleye and other species, to wood carvings of large and small mouth bass. He has even immortalized Bob Izumi as a wooden
bass (see photo). "I've always been interested in creating and expressing fish in some kind of painting or carving. The fish as a subject are a source of many images in my mind", says Weiss.
His unique skills and talent are evident in the work he does, in its attention to detail and blending of colours and textures. But where does one acquire a love and knack for both the artistic media of carving and painting, and fishing? Is it nature (inherited) or nurture (learned from his background and upbringing)? Nature or nurture? What makes the artists of our time? It's both, of course. As with any artist, one begins to peel back the layers of creativity by looking to his formative years and his genetic background. As to "nature", Charles grew up the son of a carpenter, a trade which blends the creative and the constructive. As Weiss explains, "My father is a retired carpenter, and he introduced me to a variety of tools for carving and what wood to select to easily carve fish".
However, while Weiss was introduced to the medium of wood by his father and comes by his inherent artistic talents naturally, his upbringing and the environment played a key role as well. "Of course as a young boy, I went fishing with my family. The Kawartha Lakes and Georgian Bay was the place where I discovered ways to catch bass or panfish". Weiss continues, "My experiences while fishing are a great thing for me as an artist. It allows me to make accurate observations. This is where my ideas for most paintings begin. Also, snorkelling in clear waters with a waterproof camera allows me to record the underwater environment".
Throughout high school and later college Charles honed his artistic interests and talents. For example, in high school he worked on a largemouth bass sculpture of 30 inches in length. Around that time he also started a part-time fish taxidermy business. With Styrofoam he would carve accurate forms of the fish's bodies preserving the fishes shape. He later graduated from Sheridan College with a diploma in Illustration. He entered and won several first place ribbons, including in the Chrysler Search for Canadian Wildlife Artist Contest. That contest was sponsored by Ontario Out of Doors magazine which soon began publishing some of his sport fish drawings. In 1990 his artwork graced the cover of the Summer issue of Canadian Sport fishing, his first full colour cover.
All of this does not come easy. His attention to detail is impeccable. An example is his acrylic painting titled "Easy Pick-up", featuring a crayfish being chased by a smallmouth bass (see photo). Charles remembers taking endless reference photographs of bass and crayfish at the Toronto Sportsman Show fishing water tank display. This focus epitomizes Weiss's work. "Accuracy is very important when creating sport fish artwork. During the past 15 years several art directors at magazines would express delight with my paintings. They liked the accurate fin ray count and quality of colouration and markings." Count Bassman Magazine among his growing fan base.
So what does the future hold for Charles (Chuck) Weiss? Well, check out the two cartoons in Bassman Magazine this month. And stay tuned, Charles has certainly got our attention. To borrow from Matisse, we need to remember that we are ourselves a part of Nature. Whether a tree, the sky or a largemouth bass, we too are linked to the entire universe, perhaps now more than ever. Charles Weiss can be contacted in the Contact Section at the bottom of this page.
By Angela Kane
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Wood carving muskie in progress
This carving is about 36 inches /92 cm long. Basswood for the main body and pine for the added fins. This carvings was inspired by a recent illustration of a musky head in 2016 Spring issue of Anglers Journal
Muskie Painting, Assaly on the Rocks
Finished painting on board. Added an Esox Assault spinner lure. The waves, water and rocks were challenge
Mural of two Sleepy Otters
The client asked for this mural to be placed half way up the wall to be above the edge of the bed in their daughters room.