Earl Chirstensen - River Vibes

Posted by Amy Snowdon on

Arcade: Hey Earl

Earl: Hey GP

Arcade: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.

Earl: No worries, I am stoked to be here.

Arcade: Could you introduce yourself to everyone?

Earl: Yeah, my name is Earl Christensen, I grew up in Verdi, Nevada. I currently live in Truckee, California which puts me close to the mountains for skiing in the winter and near the Truckee River for fishing almost year round. I split my time between painting and digital creation; working with watercolor, acrylic, ink, spray paint, and digital illustration.

Arcade: Ok so what were some of the influences in your life that led you to Truckee?

Earl: I moved to Tahoe in 2003 to pursue skiing and to work at Squaw Valley. I lived on the West shore of Tahoe for 10 years, but being closer to the river is what ultimately led me to Truckee.

Arcade: Tell us what inspired you to create your collection of river paintings and drawings?

Earl: I really got into fly fishing about five years ago and my art seemed to follow along. I started out just doing quick comic like sketches of our group of friends experiences on the river, everyone seemed to enjoy them so I decided to do some more in-depth pieces.

Arcade: Your work seems to have a lot of energy and motivation within it. Seemingly “jumping off the page”. Some might say a fish is a fish, but in the instance of your work, this is not the case…

Earl: I really like to focus on the contrast in my work. I want you to know what something is from across the room and have my work draw you closer. I kind of tread the line between realism and comic illustration. I also like combining mediums and techniques to get less of a traditional style of painting. For example, I use ink combined with watercolor a lot because there is no eraser, it’s a risk vs. reward thing I guess. For my larger canvases, I mostly use acrylic and spray paint, but will also incorporate ink.

Arcade: I find it interesting that you sometimes start projects with pen and ink and then move the project over to a digital workflow. Can you describe that process?

Earl: I started taking my pen and ink drawings and rendering them into Adobe Illustrator quite a while ago, but two years ago I got a Wacom tablet that really allowed me to bring a hand drawn feel to my digital art. I start my process with a pen or pencil sketch that I take a picture of and then transfer to my computer. My tablet is essentially a 27-inch touch screen that I can draw and paint directly onto digitally. So the eagle painting, for example, was an ink and watercolor painting that was pretty much black and white. When I converted it to a digital painting it took on a whole new life, by adding color and changing some of the line work. It’s like a writer doing multiple drafts before a finished product, where in this case I draw something a couple times and am able to come out with a final product that can always be modified both in size and color palette.

Arcade: That is a really sweet workflow!

Arcade: Clearly you have a strong passion for fly fishing. Tell us about that. How often do you get out on the river and what do you enjoy most about fly fishing?

Earl: I get out on the river as much as possible. We also have Pyramid lake fairly close which is one of the best still water fisheries in the world. I love covering a bunch of water and just being away from the crowds. The Truckee river has some truly amazing fish, but they make you work for them. Pyramid lake is more about the camaraderie of fishing with buddies and tends to be more crowded, but who doesn't want the chance to catch a 20-pound Cutthroat Trout!

Arcade: Agreed Pyramid is a special spot. The Truckee is a whole other beast. Those fish are smart….!

Arcade: Ok last question, where do you see your work taking you in the future. Any hopes, plans, dreams or ambitions...?

Earl: I seem to be doing quite a bit of digital work lately which is awesome. I feel like it will always come full circle back to ink and watercolor though. There is something about how unforgiving those two mediums are that draw me back to them. The best part of fishing is exploring new places, so I see my brother and I packing up the raft and floating new rivers a lot in the future. I always want to make my art different from the status quo, which seems to motivate and drive me to explore new places. I'd like to do some more large format murals in the future, and of course to do more awesome collaborations with companies like Arcade.

Arcade: Thanks for taking the time Earl. We are stoked on how well the Eagle reproduced in our “tiny” format. The detail is there. Very cool to see that belt come together.

Earl: Yeah man.

Arcade: Well maybe we can get out to Pyramid or hit the Truckee River soon!?!?!?

Earl: Yeah that would be good, you know where to find me. Let’s do it.

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