I am Stuart Mason.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always drawn pictures of animals. When I was a kid, my grandma taught me to paint with watercolors on her stone terrace overlooking the river in West Virginia. I wanted to become another John James Audubon. Since then, I’ve been everything from a park ranger to a web developer. I was a touring folk musician until the pandemic shut us all down in March of 2020. When Christmas came, I started making pet portraits for my friends and my new business took off like a runaway train. My “pandemic pivot” allows me to work at home with my wife and our two rescue cats, Tasmania and Sasha. I’ve reduced my carbon footprint, learned how to grow some of my own food, and renewed my relationship with my family and my bike. Mother Ocean provides us with the occasional fresh fish, mussels, nori and sea lettuce.
My typical day starts before sunrise with a strong cup of coffee. If the tides and the swell look good, I might sneak out to the nearby beach for a sunrise session chasing surf perch or striped bass with home-tied flies. If not, I’ll jump on the bike and loop our neighborhood for about 12 miles. I’ll spend some time on the computer, either marketing my stuff on social media, or writing about music. I run a folk music blog (fiddlefreak.com) and I write reviews for The Old Time Herald, a print magazine based in North Carolina. Around midday I usually do some painting, and later I might zip over to Morro Bay to ship out some pet portraits. An early dinner of fish and greens, maybe a movie and then we’re out like a light.
So much better than life on the road.