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





12 thoughts on “A sense of scale

  1. oh that last one which I am sure I have seen but it grabbed me….beautiful! I like that….the fish have caught you! ha! your teapot is beautifully and sensitively drawn. You seem to be very contemplative today….right up my alley!

  2. Great to get the sense of scale of your work. It is often one of the first things I look for when seeing a painting on the internet, because without a sense of scale I cannot picture it as something real. Once I know the scale I can assess its meaning: is it an intimate picture on a bookshelf or a grand decorative piece above a couch. All this makes an image real because I understand what it means to the owner or viewers.
    Great post around this issue. As always, your Koi paintings are gorgeous!

  3. I think the scale is important too. (And it was also fun creating puns on the word ….)

    I feel like the size of an image strongly affects how we relate to it. The life sized fish (or anything else) is very different from ones that are small in a notebook. We are more literally with the things, somehow, when they are life size. But the imaginative sensation is perhaps stronger when things are out of scale — either smaller or larger than life.

    In any case, I remember remarking on this in regard to your landscape. That though the picture was small, the subject was huge. That is a meme that sometimes runs through art history. I’m thinking now of Rembrandt’s famous etching of The Three Trees which is so precious in its tiny size and yet is panoramic, symphonic, sublime in regard to its subject. It’s almost as though it defies the laws of physics — compresses space into a tiny powerful thing, creates an entire alternate world in miniature.

    Size can be very psychological. I really loved portraying the koi on large sheets, back when I was doing that. It was like trying to recreate a pond.

  4. Very true, I just read today something Robert Henri said about Rembrandt being able to suggest a sense of space with just a few lines in a drawing. I know that etching of The Three Trees well – I made a charcoal copy of it about 20 years ago, it hangs in my parents house now.

  5. we have something in common that way — I made an oil sketch after the etching some years ago — mine was about 16 x 20 inches — the actual etching, though, is really, really small

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