Drawing lessons from the koi pond

Had to do some research yesterday so I went swimming.  Ah hem! Okay, it wasn’t all research, it’s just that I had to take the kid swimming.  Perhaps I wanted to go as well.  But even beside the beautiful blue of the swimming pool, I could not let go of my koi.  In our beach bag of supplies, besides the sun block and the snacks, I took colored pencils and my big tough notebook.  My pencils were pre-sharpened (though I have a handy portable sharpener like kids take to school) and I drew blue patches and fish silhouettes.

Was thinking about how people learn to draw, and I decided that this would be a pretty good first foray into art for those so inclined: to take simple materials like colored pencils (for the pool I use the cheap dime store brands!) and make color patches.  You put colors beside other colors and teach your eye to marvel at how certain color combinations make your perception dance.

I think of it as proto-art — that first impulse to mark, to color, to decorate, seeking and discovering delight.  For me these pool side drawings are experiments with different patterns.  But for someone else they might also provide simply a beginning.

I swam a lot too.  In between swimmings, I swam in the pond of thought.  Being in the pond, I learn the role, find my inner fish, work to get inside the Koi mind.  And outside the pond, I play like a child with my artist’s tools.

The Water’s Surface

Spent another day painting koi.  One of the challenges of these paintings is what to do with largish areas of canvas that are just blue — as in the detail above of the painting-of-the-moment..  I have been thinking with the brush in hand, but I also make drawings in which I experiment with different shades of blue set side by side.  Or I try to figure out how to create some facsimile of the dimension of the water itself. 

It’s more “thinking about” than achieving “success” at this point, but it goes to show how any motif can take you deeper and deeper into the question of how we perceive our perceptions.

After painting, I stopped by the koi pond to see the guys.  They all say “hi.”  They’ll be very happy if I can make them famous. They think they’re worth it.

It was quite hot and muggy in Washington DC today (our typical mid-summer weather), but I had a quiet pool of blue water to stare at so I was vicariously cool as can be.  Still have a long ways to go with this painting, propped outside the studio door at my secret, fortified bunker studio in the heart of the Nation’s capital, many days to go during which I will sit beside my koi pond in thought.