Fish lover's passion hooked by electronic medium

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2002

Teegarden is a Boise artist who traded a canvas for a monitor and a paint brush for a mouse to create vivid images of his favorite subject, fish.

''I'm just a fishing freak,'' he said.

He's also a professional graphic designer and artist who melded his profession with his hobby to make a series of fish portraits.

His artwork involves a digital medium that blends aspects of drawing, painting and sculpting.

Teegarden starts building a fish on a computer by drawing geometric shapes. Once he has the basic shape, he converts it into a three-dimensional image that resembles a wire skeleton.

''There's an enormous amount of work to get the three-dimensional model done,'' he said.

He then layers colors and patterns that resemble the skin and markings of a fish onto his 3-D framework.

At that point, he can add background and manipulate the lighting to add detail, realism, and depth of field, which can give a static image the appearance of motion.

The process he uses is similar to the computer animation programs used to bring dinosaurs to life in ''Jurassic Park'' and other animated movies.

Teegarden has produced a series of five pieces that includes portraits of bass, trout and marlin.

He spent about 200 hours creating each one.

''I got a little obsessed with the whole thing,'' he said.

Some are realistic, as though you're peering into an aquarium at a live fish, while others are more impressionistic. But all evoke feelings of watching fish in the wild.

Teegarden has spent a lifetime catching fish and observing them, and he carries that knowledge into his artwork.

''I've been a fishing fanatic since I was a little kid,'' he said. ''I know fish top to bottom.''

The computer allows him to create and then manipulate the image until he is satisfied it achieves the intended effect.

''I'm trying to capture that moment-in-time snapshot,'' he said.

He now plans to do a series of saltwater fish pieces to complement his marlin artwork.

Teegarden said using a computer to create artwork is natural progression of using the newest technology to invent new art forms.

Modern technology also allows him to use a six-color printing process to make the final product, which adds depth and tonal range that can not be achieved through standard four-color printing.

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