Fisherman’s love captured

ON A FISHING trip in Montana, Belmont resident Wayne D. Parker had a bigger catch than he expected.

In this instance, Parker didn’t land a big fish, but ended up with a painting slightly more than 21 inches long and 16 inches high.

Appropriately, it’s a watercolor.

What’s more, it shows Parker fishing and was done by Ray Campeau, a Montana artist well-known in art circles in the West.

Campeau and Parker first met when the Belmont County man was fishing on Montana’s Big Hole River in July of 2007, and Campeau, who was with two other people, asked if he could take some pictures as Parker was casting his line in the direction of trout feeding in the river.

Parker was agreeable, and the artist explained for the last few years, he had been looking for a subject who appeared to be proficient in the art of casting a fly rod and line. He added that Parker looked like the subject he had been looking for.

Campeau then asked Parker if he would mind if he did a watercolor painting of him, using one of the photographs. The Belmont man was willing for the painting to be done, and he was informed last month that it had been completed.

“I did not realize that the painting was being done by one of the best artists in the West,” said Parker. “Mr. Campeau did an excellent job, and I did not know the painting would be large as it was. It truly is beautiful, and it included the river and its surrounding beauty.”

Parker and his two fishing buddies, Ron Preston of Barnesville and Dr. Lee Chambers of Cincinnati, were on another trip to Montana last month, and they were invited by Campeau to his home in Bozeman. That’s when Parker obtained the large painting.

The Belmont man, whose father gave him a fly rod at the age of 15, has been fly fishing for nearly 60 years. He has fished the rivers and streams of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho in addition to Montana.

Parker commented that he has fished “just a little bit of everywhere. Where trout live, that’s where I’ve been.”

Noting his fishing jaunts start in the spring in the rivers that flow into Lake Erie, he indicated that later in the spring, he’s often at the Elk and Greenbrier rivers in and also around Elkins.

“It’s hard for me not to catch any (trout), I’ve been doing it so long,” said Parker, who added that he fishes in different areas at different times. Places are selected for special reasons such as when the mayflies are hatching.

The Belmont man, however, doesn’t usually sit down for a big plate of trout.

“We never eat any,” he explained. “We’re like the immigration service – we catch and release.”

The watercolor is proof that things went swimmingly well after the Belmont County fisherman met the Montana artist. Parker said Campeau has two studios, one in Butte and the other in Bozeman.

According to an article in The Montana Standard, a newspaper in Butte, “Campeau has been involved in the world of art as an award-winning art teacher, active artist, gallery owner and director, bronze foundry owner, art education researcher and a founding member of the Main Stope Gallery.

“Always an advocate for the arts and artists, he has sat on the boards of many arts organizations and has for the past five years dedicated himself to the success of the Butte Phantom Art Works.”

According to the Web site for the Whooping Crones Gallery, Campeau’s watercolor paintings have been shown in numerous places in the state. He also is described as “a true inspiration in the arts.”

Parker said he “felt humbled and astonished that a complete stranger would take his time and effort and use his talent to do such a magnificent job, especially on an unlikely subject like myself.”