Born 1973, Warwickshire England. Grew up on the Avon
and Stour rivers. Studied design at Leamington Spa and wildlife
illustration at Camarthenshire College, West Wales. Pursued landscape
painting and wildlife art for a while. Moved to the states 1999, Colorado.
Started a family and started flyfishing. Set up business as a house
painter, where by came up with staining/carving idea. Moved to Bend,
Oregon 2005 to revive artistic aspirations and increase fishing
Simonís Process for Creating His Art:
I first look for a seasoned piece of hardwood with a lot of fluid movement
in the grain. Subject to availability myrtle wood is my wood of choice. An
extremely hard wood found in the Pacific Northwest, full of character yet
very stable. The grain indicates the flow of water and this ultimately
decides the composition of the piece.
I use traditional hand carving tools (curved chisels etc) for the majority
of the carving and go in with a dremmel tool where needed. Care must be
taken in carving the water's surface due to the very subtle, undulating
movements indicative of water. By lighting the work from directly above I
am able to see the form taking shape and correct any imperfections. Before
coloring, the piece must be sanded down to a very fine grit along the
grain to ensure a smooth tactile finish and to avoid cross grain issues.
When it comes to coloring, I use oil based woodstains such as Japan* which
can be found in all colors including primary, so any variation can be
mixed up and can be thinned to control the transparency. Using stain as
opposed to paint allows the natural color and character of the wood to
come through. A method I liken to that of a watercolor, disciplined with
little room for error. The iridescence found on some pieces is achieved
using a fine powder-like eye shadow, a little embarrassing when
purchasing, but anything for my art right.
The finish is a high gloss, non-yellowing acyclic sealer/finish, sprayed
on with multiple thin coats as not to drown the contours of the carving.
The piece is mounted within a sheet of veneered plywood, stained and
lacquered, providing a complimentary transition between the artwork and
I have always been fascinated with water and it inhabitants, so much so it
has nearly cost me my life on a couple of occasions. I fell into two ponds
as a child, staring into the depths mesmerized by this "other world". My
love of fish and fishing started the day I cast my first line, inspired by
my uncle, also an artist and in my opinion one of the most knowledgeable
fishermen in England. Using a variety of course fishing techniques my
brothers and I would go after the many species of fish found in British
waters. Chub, tench, barbel, roach, pike just to name a few. It wasn't
until I moved to the States that I became a keen flyfisherman, due to the
inexpensive accessibility of first class trout habitat.
The idea to use wood to depict sport fish in their environment came to me
whilst working on an 11000sq ft log home in Colorado. During the staining
of what seemed like miles of knotty alder trim I noticed how the wood came
alive and its natural movement reminded me of water. Perhaps it was the
fumes or my longing to get out on the river but I could imagine a fish
somehow locked into the wood, and from there the experimentation began.
As all fly fishermen know, reading the water is key to success. This
rekindled my fascination with the wet stuff and has led to new insights,
both fishing and art improving on each other.