The Vase

Ever since my internet pal Ben of Carnet de Dessins told me that some of my koi look like amphora, I’ve begun looking more at antique vases.  And sure enough they look just like my koi!  Well, except for the various decorations that cover their surfaces which are very different from the decorations that cover the koi.

One of my koi amphora appears here.  I’d say he’s also a little bit volcanic.

The main difference between a koi and a volcano is that with the volcano stuff comes out, whereas with the koi stuff goes in.  And the difference between the amphora and the koi is that the amphora will contain things, whereas stuff doesn’t stay inside the koi long before it exits from  — um — another corridor.

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Swimming up through the bounds

We need boundaries, and we need to defy rules also. No edges, no defiance. Yet one wants to be more than just defiant. One wants to create, and creation is sometimes all cooperation. Sometimes creating “goes with the flow” and resists nothing. It’s all very complicated.

Nous avons besoin de frontières et nous devons aussi defier les règles. Pas de limites, pas de défis. Et en même temps on veut être plus que simplement rebelle. On veut créer et quelquefois, créer c’est coopérer. Quelquefois créer c’est aller dans le sens du courant, se laisser aller sans résister. Tout ça, c’est très compliqué.   [translated by Bénédicte of Carnet de Dessins]

The image above comprises three paintings, as they would appear stacked one above the other.  Each canvas is 40 x 60 inches, so the overall dimensions would be 120 by 60 inches if they were displayed this way.  Alas, they never have been so far, but the fish and I are both hopeful.  These are the first koi I painted.  They have lots of friends now.  My studio looks like a fish tank.

The comment and its translation originally appeared at the end of a different post.  I made the comment, and Bénédicte was kind and adventurous enough to translate it.  Uttered in French my observations sound ever so wise!  Then it dawns on me (later) that the koi express this idea about boundaries.  The fish live in water and never leave it.  They can’t exist outside it (not for very long).  And so they are very bound, and yet within the confines of their pond they do amazing things.  They swim with the utmost freedom and beauty.

Dream Fishing

When artists go fishing, it’s a little different sort of thing than when most people fish.  I’ve begun a series of koi paintings that occupy most my time.   Of course, the fish in the drawing are obviously not koi.  They are just fish.  They’re friends.   My generic fish that swim in the notebook in search of a fine blue stream.   They are rambling fish of imagination and dreams.  They come to cheer me on in my larger project that I’m just now beginning.Come visit my store on CafePress!

[Top of the post:  Swift Swimming Fish of Dreams, by Aletha Kuschan, drawing in a notebook]

Getting Squared Away

Squaring up: the technique of copying that uses a grid.  Comparing the squares of the source image to the drawing underway helps an artist draw the relationships between visual elements correctly.  It’s especially useful when an image needs to be enlarged. 

And that’s why I used it.  I was painting this bridge into a large portrait and needed to get the architectural structure right.  I made this little version from a photo, then enlarged this image by making a similar grid on the canvas I was painting.  So it had this very practical purpose.

Still I think the gridded drawing has a unique charm of its own.  It turns each square into an abstraction and heightens the abstraction of the image as a whole.  The order that it imposes is also comforting somehow.  Having these grid lines here, I feel confident that this little bridge isn’t going anywhere.  It’s locked down on the page. 

[Top of the post:  Little Bridge by Aletha Kuschan, colored pencils]