I have to figure out the reflections around the fish in the top corner of the larger of the two koi ponds. So I began this drawing today. The initial lines are totally scribbly. And there’s a great sense of freedom and enjoyment to be got from a drawing like this. I will fill out much of it to gather up the detail I need to solve my problem, but I took the photo before continuing just to make the point about how free one’s gestures can be.
I’ve featured “fish faces” here lately. This one is composed of little strokes of paint. The gestures of painting on the small scale of the image — these strokes, these abstract “details” — can eventually influence a fish’s likeness quite a bit. This business of drawing with the paint gives me the sensation of being really near these fish as I paint. This is like the artistic equivalent of reaching out and patting them on the head. So far, they are the most obedient fish an artist could want. They give me no trouble. They practically paint themselves.
The other koi pond is coming along too. I have two ponds of fish in my studio now. Each pond has its own personality. These fish are more idiosyncratic. They are each going in different directions. Big fish and little fish pass each other, each on their separate fishy errands.
The little yellow fish strikes me as especially resolute. She swishes somewhere very emphatically. She is a bright, optimistic little swimmer.
The painting is 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas.
I’ve gone back to a drawing that I began back in July, and I’ve been working on it some more. It helps me think through the painting I’m making of the same motif. Drawing adds another level of intimacy since each line and each scribble takes me into the image is such small and close steps.
Colors take on an entirely different character when they are the effects of hatching. “Hatching” refers to the parallel lines that artists sometimes use to create tones in drawing, and with a colored drawing like this one above (made with Caran d’ache water soluable crayons), the hatch marks can be used to create “transparent” color effects — where one set of colored parallel lines overlays a different set until the several layers produce a color mixture that is the sum of all the combinations.
The fish are very abstract still. They dart here and there. They are too intent on their travel to be stilled in our gaze. They streak through the pond and leave beautiful, shining waves and ripples behind their path.