Jim Reid is a singer/songwriter and a woodworker/painter who lives by Martin Lake in the community of Lake Echo, Nova Scotia. He started out creating, for his wife, a series of fish shutters. The requested shutters were supposed to be simple, single colored fish cut from 1”x 12” x 4’ boards, all identical, for their 12-sided dodecahedron camp in Tennecape, by the Minas Basin. This was to be, as the project took on a life of its own.
However, once the paintings began, so did the creative spark to do something beyond what was requested, as is often the case, it seems, with disturbing regularity. This simple request developed into a somewhat compulsively generated series of fish shutters, none of which was the same and thought by Holly (his Wife) to be too attractive to be left outside exposed to the weather and instead to decorate the camp indoors.
Soon friends, who visited the camp and their home by Martin Lake, noticed these fish (four of which do adorn two windows outside at the camp) while another half a dozen are inside. A friend, who works with the Sackville Salmon Association, requested a Salmon or two to adorn a float to be used in an upcoming civic parade in 2014. Four pine, painted acrylic 1” x 12” four foot cutout Salmon with routered edges were created. They were enthusiastically received by the volunteers who assembled the float. One fish made its way to decorate a newly renovated kitchen of that friend; the other three fish were donated to a raffle fund raiser for Costal Voices Men’s Choir, of which Jim is a member. The fish turned out to be popular and over $800 in tickets were sold and the fish went to the homes of three winners.
Over the next couple of years, upwards of fifty to sixty fanciful fish have been created, some donated as fund raisers, some sold but mostly given as gifts to friends and family who liked them. Some fish, like the salmon and the shutters are cut out, edges smoothed and routered then painted; some are simply painted on pine, spruce or cedar 1 inch boards from 6 to 12” wide. The edges may or may not be routered. For each fish, acrylic paints are applied in layers on a primed wood board to give the various effects or color and texture. Some features of the fish are built up from many layers of paint giving the finished work a sculpted or a carved three-dimensional look. The finished fish, depending on the desired effect are finished with a matt or semi glass acrylic clear coating. This also has the effect of punching out the intensity of the color combinations of the acrylic paints. Each fish is an experiment in using this medium, each is a unique work and no two are quite the same. Some of the larger fish can take thirty hours to complete, the smaller ones six hours or so. They are all signed by Jim on the back of each board with the completion date and place where they were created, usually by Martin Lake, Nova Scotia. May whoever acquires one of these folky, colorful, fanciful fish; enjoy it as much as Kim has, in its creation.