A sense of scale


Well, here I was pretending to draw on this thing just like in the art books!  But this was just a photo op.  It provides a sense of the drawing’s size, the picture’s scale.  The lines, the smears, the hatchings are all fairly largish.  Many of the fishes are the same size as the actual koi — the “little guys,” that is.  There was a fish that we nicknamed “Moby Dick” who would require an extra-large sheet if one portrayed him in his full grandeur!

These are heavy, weighty matters. Sometimes the fish are big.

studio view of koi drawing

And sometimes they are small.  These fish in a notebook below are very small, but they are quite musical.  One might say that they are ascending scales.


Sometimes a sense of scale implies a sense of SCALE — get it.

Above leaps the fish whose scales I stole, and beside him the Hiroshige print from which I stole them.

Sometimes the drawing is small but the idea is grandiose when fish swim in the skies.  And then sometimes the clouds swim like kois in a koi pond.

I like the various permutations of the fish. And I don’t know why I like them so well. I just do.

Usually people go out to catch the fish.  But in my case, it’s the fishes who have caught me.

fast swim




the fish that foretell

two fishIf the past is prologue, if past behaviors predict future ones, what shall we say about choices we make?  Certainly some of a person’s personality is like a plot of land.  Put there by an invisible nature, shaped by what kinds of weather and forces, against what winds and tides, unknown and unstudied until we begin to question ourselves. I don’t wish to sound narcissistic.  I simply allude to the fact that we can wonder about what we do and why we do it.  The mind is a place.  Dreams are the thoughts that roamed when someone was not even aware of having motives.

Why’d I do that?  I recall the day. My father, then living, full of vigor, was outdoors too, his trestles set in the yard under the boughs of the maple trees, ready for mechanic work. In my mind I see him now, him ever curious, turning to watch me as I began, his face shaded by the brim of a straw hat he always wore.  I had bought two fish at the grocery store — a unique extravagance.  I had bought them only so that I might draw them.

Why fish?

I have made so many pictures since around the year 2000 of koi that they have become a sub-category in my art.  Did these two fish predicate the koi?  I find it intriguing to reflect back on all kinds of other paintings or drawings I’ve done of fish.  Of course I loved Winslow Homer. He nudged me in fishy direction.

Winslow Homer, watercolor


Now I seem to have a real fetish going.  I made my drawing a very long time ago, long before I knew that fish would be a staple of my artistic diet.  I can remember vividly that I purchased the fish from the Giant Food grocery store. I unwrapped them from the stiff white butcher paper, and set them up outside in the open air.  I had colored a sheet of drawing paper by hand in advance using ground up pastel mixed with diluted Elmer’s glue which I brushed over the surface and let to dry.  I made the drawing using pencil, Chinese sumi ink and touches of watercolor.

Needless to say that while they were fresh for drawing; after the session, they were not so fresh for eating.  They are immortalized here.  Does it seem like they’re looking at you?  It sure seemed like they were looking at me, somewhat accusingly at that.

Did two fish foretell these guys below?

So what are you doing right now that predicts tomorrow?

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