A couple years ago I was asked to be the featured artist for the 2013 Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament benefiting the Boy Scouts of America in St. Thomas. Knowing that this tournament is the "Super Bowl" of sport fishing, I graciously accepted. In return for being chosen as their featured artist, I was commissioned to paint a Blue Marlin piece inspired by the legendary summer Caribbean bite that goes off in St. Thomas around the full moons. I did plenty of research before I decided on what to paint. A couple of lucky run-ins while spearfishing for mahi with free-swimming blue marlin gave me some good ideas. I was convinced that the fish was definitely not going to be all lit up and colorful like we have so often seen in Marlin paintings. The two I saw were jet black with small areas of white and blue vaguely showing. The fish was only one component to the painting; the next few components were crucial to creating something unique. A couple Marlin trips in the Bahamas helped me decide what the surrounding elements were going to be. After getting the opportunity to tease up and pitch to a hungry Marlin I knew that this was the apex of sport fishing and any anglers dream. The excitement of the fish in the spread and the technique of the pitch to properly present the bait I found to be an art in its self. So for me that completed the composition. A blacked out, angry marlin, in the prop wash with a descending pitch making its way to the marlin. With these images in my mind I put the brushes to work and brought my vision to life.
Once the image was completed, the only missing element was a name. Knowing that the piece was headed to St. Thomas there was only one suitable name, "North Drop." North Drop is the world famous shelf out of St. Thomas. In the summer the migrating marlin stack up because the upwelling created by the fierce currents colliding with the drastic change in depth. This traps and holds large amounts of bait in one area that the fish feed on. Upon the completion of the piece in mid August, my wife and I packed it up and headed for St. Thomas. This was our first trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. We had no idea what to expect. So when we flew in, I was pleasantly surprised in the elevation change and the abundance of islands in such close vicinity. We spent a week there and were treated like kings (and queens). The hospitality was amazing and the people were even friendlier. On the last night of the event, "North Drop" was to be presented in a live auction. I have never had a piece go up in a live auction, so I was a little nervous.
As the final night came around, the participants from some of the best sport fishing teams in the world started to pile in. After dinner was over the auction began, small items went up and my nerves started to build. Then the time finally came, it was the last item of the night. "North Drop" was up, but not before I was called to the stage and the chairman of the tournament shared a few words about our relationship and my artwork. I was so flattered by the words that came out of his mouth, about my talents, and images that I felt regardless of what the piece went for I was satisfied! I stepped down and the auctioneer started the bids, "do I hear $2500" and a host of hands went up, then it climbed $3000, $3500 and before I knew it, it was over $10,000 and hands were still flying. Before I could even think what was happening I heard "SOLD"! $11,500. I was absolutely pumped! My work had gained that kind of respect among some of the greatest Marlin fisherman in the world. More importantly, I had created something that just brought $11,500 to the Boy Scouts of America! Money that can help make a difference, I felt so satisfied. The event wrapped up, pictures were taken and hands were shook. As the even came to a close, the chairman put his arm around me and said, "well we did it, that was the most a painting has sold for in the history of the event". I about fell over, the Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament has had the absolute best of the best in the marine art world as their featured artist, and my painting had gone for more than anyone. I was so flattered and proud, I didn't even know what to do. So.. As any other angler, mate, captain. or owner would do, we went out and celebrated!