Colin McLain: Spy vs. Spy


While vastly different, the art of fly fishing and old-school skater graphics have at least one thing in common: artist Colin McLain, who is drawn in equal measure to both subjects. For McLain, painting, like fly-fishing, is a deeply meditative act. Both have complicated processes that require patience, skill, and grace. He quotes Norman MacLean from A River Runs Through It to describe this resonance, “…all good things …come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.” Choosing the perfect fly mirrors so beautifully a painter’s color selection, while casting that fly parallels the act of applying the selected hue to canvas. 

While his soft, delicate brushstrokes depict the feathers and fur of hand-tied flies, his flat, neon forms recall the sometimes garish silk-screens of the 1970s and 1980s. Inspired by his love of skate culture and its iconography, he reanimates and reinvents those graphics by repeating them in dizzying, large-scale patterns. 


Colin McLain was born in Memphis, Tennessee and currently lives and works in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut. He has shown his paintings at many galleries and museums nationwide and abroad. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Flash Art, and The New Art Examiner, he was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and The Vermont Studio Center, and received a Rotary Fellowship to Italy. He teaches at Parsons School of Design.