American Angler

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READING LIGHT Roger Fowler’s custom sculptures try to capture a fish’s unique light.

NATURAL LIGHT—AND BY EXTENsion, its relationship to color—has long fascinated artists. It was the light of Provence, after all, that brought Van Gogh to Pays d’Arles in 1888. Other painters followed. For Roger Fowler, it was the light from within that drew his attention— more specifically the light that seems to emanate from trout. A desire to capture that light inspired his first sculpture. “Twenty-five years ago, I was working at a job that required lots of travel,” Fowler said. “Our daughter was starting kindergarten, and I wanted to find a way to spend more time close to home. When I was traveling for work, I’d stop into art galleries. Trout were a great interest of mine. I grew up in Texas, but spent summer vacations on the Taylor


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River in Colorado, fly fishing with my dad and my brother. The galleries didn’t have many trout sculptures. And those that they had were not any I’d want to own. Every sculpture had an opaque patina that didn’t reflect light. It was the same patina you’d see on mammals. I wanted to see if I could find a way to make trout look more realistic. “I had no artistic training whatsoever,” Fowler said. “I didn’t know about the things you weren’t supposed to do. But it was pretty easy to carve the shape of a trout. And I began experimenting with different finishes to get that reflection I was imagining. After a year, I had a sculpture of a rainbow trout about eight inches long. To me, it looked real. I took


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