"The Night Trawler" is one of my larger paintings, 30" x 40" ~ (35.6 cm. x 45.7 cm.). The painting is a representation of my childhood memories of going fishing with my father in San Francisco. These old memories are an obvious inspiration for my paintings today. ~ ~ ~
In the year 1958, when I was 7 years old, my father would wake me before dawn to go fishing in the Ocean. We would drive through the foggy San Francisco streets to "Muni Pier" , buy bait wrapped in yesterdays newspaper, and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. He moored an old 20’ inboard with a cabin there. To my young eyes it was a Ship! As the first false dawn light began to color the world, we would board with our gear. Trembling with the morning chill, breathing out hot steam, he'd start the engine. The smell of gasoline, bait and salt water is an indelible memory. ~ ~ ~
We made slowly out the jetty and into the S.F. Bay and under the Golden Gate bridge. Past a fearful patch of rough water called the “Potato Patch” lay the beautiful blue waters of Marin County. We would skirt the shore, find a still cove and drop anchor. These coves were always surrounded by high cliffs with wild trees shaped by the winds overhanging the edges. The Cliffs were natural wind breaks. The water was a thousand variations of blue, from deep black to azure, and still as a mirror. The smell was pine forest mixed with salt water, morning sun and exhaust fumes. ~ ~ ~
My fingers would tremble while I set my hooks and sinkers. We would sit side by side in lawn chairs as the boat gently swayed in the calm morning water. The fog would begin to clear in spots and open holes in the sky. What fish we caught! I never knew what denizen of the deep I might pull from those waters! Things that I was sure no one had ever seen before! Huge green purple kelp fish with bulging eyes and fins that looked like seaweed ! Some were covered with tiny slithering worms and tiny jittering crustaceans. There were Leopard Sharks with beautiful black spots. Fish that looked like futuristic cylindrical space ships, Crabs, many jellyfish, Once, a GreatWhite sharks as big as our boat! My favorite times were slow and silent. When our lines made the only ripple upon the water. The only sound was the soft lapping of the dark water against our boat and the sound of gulls. ~ ~ ~
I’m often asked why I choose to paint what I do. The simple answer is that these subjects fascinate me. I paint because I enjoy seeing my imagination come to life. A deeper answer is this: My work has become a sanctuary formed from my imagination. The effects of Climate change are so dire that I feel compelled to cocoon myself in a world of my own making. As I watch our planet losing up to 100 species every day, I feel a dark despair. When I was young, life was plentiful and abundant, or so it seemed. My paintings are not only my oasis, but also my way of remembering the way things were. My work has become my haven, as well as a tribute to life as it was before the great extinctions began. In the shadow of a withering planet, I create worlds that are lush and thriving. I hope my work can encourage and uplift those who who feel as I do about this climate crisis. However, creating a memory of a time when our world was stable is not enough. We all must do everything we can to lessen the causes of the this crisis. This is our greatest challenge since the ascendancy of humanity.
~ Robert S. Connett, 2020