Jason Zimmer loves to be on the water. He’s a fervent fisherman. He’s also an artist and a teacher at SCAD. Put Savannah, painting, and fishing together, and you get an interesting body of work.
“I had this idea of painting the low country marshes for several years,” Zimmer says. “I wanted to place myself in the middle of the water — not paint in the typical vantage point of standing on the edge of the banks. To do this I needed a boat suitable for painting — and of course fishing, which is another passion of mine. So in March of 2013, I bought a 17 ft. Carolina Skiff with a 25 horsepower Evinrude motor made for shallow water. This small fishing boat has a roomy open floor plan to accommodate an easel and painting table. The idea was not to paint one-day plein air paintings, but to paint larger canvases that would take several sessions. The skiff works out really well, allowing me to get into very shallow waters and placing myself in the middle of the scenes.”
Zimmer isn’t trading one hobby for another — oh, no. “I find it very relaxing sitting on the water even under the heat of the day, painting on my right and fishing on my left. Too many times, I missed a strike of a fish, being fully focused on the canvas — which is a good thing,” he says.
He reports that fishing en plein bateau is a lot like painting on land, “but there is a new trouble: the occasional wake from a speeding boat rocking you and your jar of turpentine.”
The boat offers Zimmer some distinct advantages, and the SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) instructor tries to maximize them. “I anchor my boat in places unable to get to by car or foot,” says Zimmer. “I find secluded areas where I am left alone enjoying my two passions. A lot of the times I am accompanied by my pal Chester, my Belgian Malinois-mix dog, who cannot take the heat very well. Needless to say, he only comes in the early morning or when I find shade. Some of the rivers I’ve explored are Turner’s Creek, Wilmington River, Bull Creek, and the Ogeechee River around the Savannah, Georgia, area. I also painted two paintings back near my hometown of Beckemeyer, Illinois, on Carlyle Lake, a 35,000-acre lake home to many mighty catfish, and at Lake Okeechobee in Florida, where I caught several largemouth bass. I know that this boat and method of painting suits me well and I will continue to explore new waters, where I will paint and fish, and ponder my life.”