October 3, 2011

Crazy Gringos

Panama means "Abundance of Fish."  Anybody who calls Panama "home" knows fishing is a main way of life for much of the country.  Manned with only the essentials, native fishermen travel across the waters of Panama in search of any kind of fish they can catch and sell at the market. 

"Into the Storm" by Al Sprague, 2010 captures the native fishermen heading out for the day

As a child growing up in Panama, I  had  my share of days out on the water fishing for every type of fish you can think of.  You see, my father (Al Sprague) is an avid fisherman.  He had us kids out fishing since we were three years old.  That was and is still a huge part of our lives.  In the early morning we would load up the boat for the day and head out to see what we could catch.  As we traveled out to the nearby islands of Taboga, Tabigilla, and Malonis (I called it Bologna Island) we would watch the natives heading out in their pangas. 

"Afternoon Return" by Al Sprague
My father, being an artist, would never go out without his camera.  You never knew when the best composition was in front of you.  It was normal for us to be heading out when my dad would say, "Wow, look at that!  I have to get some pictures.  That would make a great painting!."  He would hand over the control of the boat to one of us kids and he would pull out his camera.  We would then slow the boat down and begin to circle the fishermen as they threw their nets, pulled in their hand lines, and traveled out to sea.  This would happen several times throughout the day.  I'm sure the fishermen thought we were some crazy gringos!  

Native fisherman brings in the net in this 2006 original oil by Al Sprague.

In his paintings, dad captures the moment, the sky, and the water.  He brings the tropical feel of Panama right into the homes of the many collectors who hang his marina paintings on their walls.  Once again, he captures the essence of Panama...it's people and traditions. 

One of my favorite fisherman paintings.  I love the shadow in the net! Not sure the date but I believe this was painted in the 90's


  1. Your father's paintings made for some classy Canal Zone Postage stamps. I had the honor of meeting him a couple of times outside the Balboa post office. One was for the first day of issue "Mule" stamp in '78. The other was for the "Last day of Operation" in '79. It was an honor.

  2. Hello Ms. Taylor, Not sure how else to reach you but I've had a painting for many years that I think may be your father's. It's an oil painting of a young woman alone in a bedroom shot through the open door - the style is almost Hopperesque. It doesn't seem like any other Al Sprague paintings I've seen but the signature does match. If you contact me I'll send you photos so you can see what you think. I'm at writeont@yahoo.com. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best. Toby Muller

  3. Love your father's artwork and how he has always captured the moment. I look at this particular collection and I can almost smell the saltwater, hear the birds, and feel the boat swaying back in forth in the ocean. It sure brings back many memories. Thank you for sharing this and thank your dad for capturing our home through his paintings. Regards, Lina Rhoades Norris (p.s. I selected Anonymous as I have can't use any of the profiles provided below.