Editor's note: B.A.S.S. has designated 2019 as the Year of the Fan. To celebrate, B.A.S.S. is profiling some of the sport's biggest supporters.
For Debbie Shaiper Ferguson, fishing is a passion. It’s her peace, her solitude, but she’s also turning it into somewhat of a livelihood.
Ferguson often takes her Jeep loaded with four or five rods and about that many tackleboxes to fish waterways near and far from her home in O’Fallon, Mo. Yet it’s during that time that the wife and mother of one finds inspiration for some of her outdoors-themed artwork.
“Fishing, it is just a passion,” she said. “I just love it. It’s everything. It’s quiet. Nobody’s bugging me. Everybody has their Zen, and that’s it for me.
“And I can study what I want to paint. It’s hand in hand.”
Now Ferguson might not know John Crews from Tom Cruise as following the tournament circuits isn’t her deal. (She does like Roland Martin). She accesses stories and videos on Bassmaster.com, among other websites, to get fishing pointers and to see images that might help her paint more realistic fishing scenes.
“The hardest thing is to visualize what I’m going to paint, because all my stuff is original,” she said. “I don’t look at a photo. I’m making it up.”
There is research, however, and the best kind is observation during fishing, as one sore-eyed bass might attest. Ferguson recently imagined an underwater scene with a bass eying to suck up a crawdad from a submerged branch.
“I really wanted the picture of a bass looking at something,” she said. “I actually caught a bass and kind of moved his eyeball before I released him. I poked around on him without hurting him, just to see how the eyeball would work. There’s not many opportunities to see a fish looking down.”
The painting below is the result.