I come from a long line of “Gone Fishin”, in the family. Really. We have a fishing parasite along with a strong love of the outside. We embrace a meditative state as we lure our dinner into the fry pan. I have proof of this through generations of photography.
The first photographs are of Sedilla, nicknamed “Dillie”, who is my maternal Great Grandma. She had a habit of outliving her husbands, so her last names were numerous including Oxendine (maiden name), Canniff, McKibben, and then Pyle. She fished wherever she lived, these are pictures of her and her kids fishing in Colorado, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
What the heck kind of fish is this?
I guess there were no fishing limits back then…
Honestly, I remember Grandma pulling over cause she saw someone fishing. She’d casually ask them what they were using for bait, and ask if they caught anything.
This woman could cook a rock and make it taste delicious.
Fishing is a weekend long event where we would drive up to the mountains, picnic and camp, fish and hike. I loved it. It is probably why I feel so free hiking in the mountains still.
The final part of the water kingdom is done on her left side bringing the darker blues continuous behind her with a quick absence bleed of color at her back tail fin. This is how I give an impression of movement in the water there. The final touch I feel drawn to do is some darker splatters throughout the water for bubble impressions. I am pleased with her bright moving attitude! C’est fini!
The underwater world keeps going as I proceed on her right side adding cobalt blue, Prussian blue, ultramarine along with violet. The trick for me is to not do too much. I don’t want it to be a solid background, instead wanting to see variance and depth. the other side of that is that I don’t want the water to compete with the main subject of the sassy koi. Hoping to get not too much and not too little. Slowly and carefully I proceed.
Our lady koi is ready to enter into her world. How is she going to look underwater? This is my favorite thing about watercolor painting. Wet on wet! I absolutely love the way that the colors bleed pool and spread when you give them water to travel on. There is no better experience than carefully wetting where you want color to transform and then dropping color and watching the magic in front of your eyes. Beginning at the extreme curve of her body and working my way under her chin her underwater world appears.
I continue to add color to her scale areas getting the majority of her done. The next area is her back tail where I am opting to give her a real colorful fin to stand on for her statement. The tricky part for me here it to give her an impression of standing on two legs without giving her legs at all. How do you make fins kind of sort of be legs? Well here is my best stab at it.
At this point I begin to add the areas of different colors on my koi character taking turns between adding scale patterns and shadow shape. She is colorful with white, gold, orange, red and black patches. I add darkness in layers we are able to see the depth of her open mouth which makes her expression have much more impact. The darkness on her right chin makes her lips seem to jut out toward us. As I work with the eyes I darken where the shadows are along with her iris. Isn’t it great how watercolor allows you to carefully bleed the edges of the shadow to gently show a curving eyeball? I noticed her dorsal fin is not right and am able to correct that with darkening in the back that reduces it to the correct size.
You may notice that I was in the middle of doing a couple’s wedding portrait but I put it aside and did this real quick because the meeting was the next night. I have had to learn to be able to quit one project and hop onto-the-next whenever customers put a hold on something. It works well for when I tend to procrastinate too long too.
This little watercolor was a challenge from the Spokane Watercolor Society (SWS), which is a club that I love being part of. It is great to be able to see fellow artists every month throughout the year and be able to learn from and inspire each other.
At these meetings each month we are asked to paint something and then bring it to the next meeting for show and tell. This challenge was to paint something “Fishy”.
When I thought of what to paint, I immediately thought “koi” because of the great techniques discovered while watching Vicki A. West for an evening as we both showed people how-to-paint at the SWS art show opening the month before. Vicki is quite a talented artist, and it was an eye opener to see her quick and decisive strokes blossom into beautiful koi images. My brain immediately took this koi idea to another kind of comical path envisioning a talking fish saying, “Don’t you play koi with me!”. The old time movie that I thought of was “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” where Don Knotts plays a mild-mannered bookkeeper who falls into the water and becomes a fish.
The painting begins with a quick pencil sketch showing a fish with mouth open and eyes wide-open, standing with its left fin pointing up and out and it’s right fin reaching down to it’s hip. The character I saw was a sassy woman putting her right hand on her hip and her left hand up in the air pointing as she declares her powerful statement to the world.
I reserved fin areas with transparent yellow and then proceeded with putting a real light wash of shadowed scale pattern on her body. My main goal was just being able to see the roundness of her form before putting her colors on.