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Linda Stem has a pretty unique fish tale. But this is no unbelievable story of the one that got away. The fish in her tale can be seen adorning the International Fishing Pier in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Stem spent the first few years of her life close to that pier, falling in love with the beach, ocean and all things nautical before being dragged kicking and screaming to Colorado when she was in elementary school. She has since fallen head over heels for the Centennial State and said she wouldn’t live anywhere else.

“I have ducks and chickens and dogs and bunnies — animals are my passion,” the Wheat Ridge resident said. “I’m just so happy where I am.”

But her love for the ocean has never waned.  So, when she was approached by a friend from Florida who asked her to submit paintings of fish to be displayed on the pier, there was no chance she was going to let the opportunity pass her by.

“They had a bunch of local people submitting, and didn’t find any work they liked,” she said. “So, they called me last March asking me to submit some paintings of some fish.”

She said she started submitting and honing in on what they were looking for. In June, 2021, the group in charge of the project decided that her art was the right fit.

“By the end of August, my whole house turned into an art studio,” she said. “They’re big panels, and everywhere ther was a space, there was a fish panel in the process of being painted.”

Then, working with a local company, The Painted Pixel, the paintings were digitized and the digital files were sent to Florida to be incorporated into the signs for the fishing pier. She says the fish, while mostly true to life, are more colorful than  the real ones swimming beneath her renditions. All in all, she created 10 paintings that have been made into informative displays in the idyllic location.

A creative at heart, Stem also does Scandinavian folk art and carves wooden figures. In the past, she was more focused on raising her children — she homeschooled them, which many parents have recently learned, takes a fair bit of time.  But now, she’s looking forward to pursuing more creative pojects as they come along. In the meantime, she’s getting ready to start her next series of work oil paintings of squirrels.