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Muskie guide with an artistic side

Jerry is a muskie guide and needed a new winter project he and his son could work on together, so he revived his love of art. Some of the duo’s completed paintings. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham1 / 5
Jerry and Xander Sondag work on a painting in their Pelican Lake home. Jerry owns Jerry Sondag’s Headshaker Guide Service and needed something new for him and his son to do indoors this winter. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham2 / 5
A painting of a muskie eating a sucker is a work in progress. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham3 / 5
Jerry Sondag signs his name on the paintings, while 2 1/2 year old Xander simply signs an X. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham4 / 5
The 2 1/2 year old starts the paintings and dad, Jerry, finishes them. Xander and Jerry Sondag look over some of the fish paintings they are working on in their Pelican Lake home. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham5 / 5

It’s the middle of a cold winter, there’s three feet of ice on his favorite lake and his season doesn’t start for another four months. So what’s a muskie angler to do in northwest Minnesota in February?


Being it has been such a long cold winter, local muskie guide Jerry Sondag decided it was time to revive his artistic side along with his 2½ year old son, Xander. The two have been creating brightly colored fish paintings since early January.

Watching television and playing with Legos for countless hours indoors this winter, Jerry decided the two needed to find something else to do with their time at home.

“Then he gets kind of antsy and aggressive and he gets so excited that toys are flung at the TV. So this provided an awesome outlet for him to get messy,” Jerry said. “And I love when he really gets into it and uses his hands.”

The popularity of the paintings spurred Jerry to start a Sondag Art Facebook page and start selling some of the works of art.

“Even people that aren’t interested in purchasing any have contacted me and said it’s been great watching the stuff,” he said. “I like the comments that what I’m doing is being a good dad, not being a good artist.”

Since Xander is so young, Jerry will draw out his pattern on a canvas, tape a portion off with painter’s tape, give Xander a brush and base color and let him go.

“He loves to sit there and drum on the canvas, but I don’t want big divots in the paint so I’ll smooth it out,” Jerry said. “He has about a 15 to 20 minute attention span. Then he starts trying to eat the paint and all kinds of stuff.”

Jerry said Xander was very neat and delicate and didn’t like paint on his hands when they first started.

“But now, he was splattering paint on the table or wanting to get down and chase the cats with paint,” he said.

Once the canvas dries with Xander’s base color, Jerry goes to work.

Jerry, whose mother had a master’s degree in art education, is a trained artist himself with a fine art degree. He now owns Jerry Sondag’s Headshaker Guide Service out of his Pelican Lake home.

“Fishing was always such my passion that I kind of gave up on art,” he said. “I still did it once in a while. My brother said that maybe having a child has lit a fire in my creativity department.”

Jerry said he would doodle and draw but never really thought about painting for many years.

“Literally, one day I didn’t even think about it. It was like, ‘We need to do something else.’ And there was just this idea of taping the canvas off and letting him splatter and doing little joint work. It just popped into my head,” he said.

The father and son have made about 25 paintings together, mostly fishing related.

Jerry said that half of the money from any they sell is going into Xander’s college fund, and the two have already had several commissioned paintings.

But for now, the two are just having fun with their art.

“In just a couple hours, (Sondag Art) had over 200 Facebook friends,” Jerry said. “It just absolutely exploded with people sharing it. People that I didn’t even invite to look at the page just went absolutely nuts about it.”

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