This is the first lay-in of colors. This is what the bottom layer of paint looks like. And what will go above it, oh that’s the fun part! If this were an orchestra, everyone would be tuning up their instruments and playing a few of the more challenging riffs to get warmed up. So, the fish still have my permission to swim a little to left or right. Some might even get bumped right out of the picture!
I used oil pastels for this one, messiest medium in the world, but great smudgy tool for creating color that is solid at least. In each iteration of the motif, I find I have moved things around. I’m still searching for the placement of everything that feels right. I want my fish to seem to move. But in fact they must stay forever still (wonderful paradox of art), and in that eternal stillness, I want everybody standing (swimming) in the right spot.
Drawing for the Painting
I made a largish drawing for the painting, which I’m still working on. I start lots of things and work on them by turns, and each in different ways helps me think through the ideas. Each medium by its innate qualities makes some ideas either easier or harder to realize — and the differences lead one down different paths of thought. They each provide one with a different visual vocabulary, like saying the same thing in different words.
I have been making sketches for the second of the koi paintings, redoing the same motif over and over as a way of thinking about it. I am like an actress learning her lines. The lines I learn, however, are the ones I draw. I rehearse the gesture of making these lines, of thinking about the composition as a whole, of thinking alternately about the shapes of the fish and about the shapes of the water in which they swim.
One morning while working at the computer, I thought: what the heck, and I did this digital drawing using a paint program. The motif is copied from the oil painting, which is still just blocked in. So this computer “study” postdates the actual painting and develops simultaneously with it. I’ll post the canvas in a bit. Since beginning the lay in of the picture I’ve also made two drawings of different sizes.
It is much harder for me to control the lines on the computer, yet it’s interesting and challenging in ways that resembles playing a computer game. I find that doing a picture in a paint program has a “technique” just as do other media. I haven’t begun to master the use of the paint program with its switching between tools by grabbing them with the touch bars. I didn’t always have the tool icon that I thought I had and was “undoing” as much as I was doing — something that not even the use of an erasure quite matches.
In the traditional media of the artist, there is usually not much of undoing that one can do — just a going forward or a beginning again.