koi finishing

I have begun finishing koi paintings.  It’s a strange process finishing a painting because it’s such an open-ended and uncertain process.  Of course, in truth, finishing is nothing more than continuing to paint until one is “done.”  If you have a very specific notion of what the image should look like, arriving at “done” is mostly a matter of nose grind-stoning.  But it’s very possible for a picture to be elusive right until the very last minute, which is kind of what I’m up against with these koi — and this is all the more ironic since I’m painting some of them from preexisting images.  All I need really do is just copy my image (the painting’s are enlargements of something), but somehow mystery enters during the translation.  I don’t recognize the paintings being at all identical to their sources — indeed they are so different that I can honestly say I have no idea how they will turn out.

I get some sense of what novelists talk about when they describe their characters taking over a novel while it’s being written.  I knew I was making progress on a painting when the koi started swimming — and that’s a good thing.  I want them to swim.  But I don’t know where they are going.  And you’d think I would know.

Why is the artist always the last to know?

Above, still unresolved swimming going on.

4 thoughts on “Finishing Fish

  1. Finishing- so hard to do! I took up mosaic so that I could know when I’m finished. That happens when the whole surface is covered with little pieces and there is no room to put another on.

  2. Lynn, There’s a lovely idea! Perhaps I should try mosaic and find certainty and completeness! Thanks for a very insightful comment. (Point of view is everything, and the materials will have a say as well.) Aletha

  3. You have picked the hardest subject to find an ending or be finished. It is koi, they do not stop. Only you will know when the painting has the spirit. You are a fantastic artist and it has been a great joy and learning experience following along on your journey.

  4. Woah, Paul, there’s a bit too much past tense going here. When I said “finished” I didn’t mean it in the Picasso-esque sense. (He said, when it’s “finished” it’s “finished.”)

    The koi are jazz — like we were saying in the other post. ak

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