Thursday, January 3, 2008

Progression of a Koi Painting

I just finished another large koi painting. For anyone who knows me, I paint a lot of koi. Sometimes I have very good results. Sometimes it's a mess. I guess that's one of the reasons that I keep doing them - they have yet to be conquered!!! And they're pretty.

This time, I thought I might walk you through a few steps of the process as best I can. I find them very difficult to teach to my class because so much of what I do is based solely on my instinct and not any "watercolor procedure."

I usually will compose and draw my fish out prior to painting. I've tried to lay the base colors in first and sort of "feel" where the fish are - but pre-planning tends to work better for me. So I lay a crazy loose wash down with my three favorite "water" colors: Prussian Blue, Sap Green and Burnt Sienna. Lots of splashing and spatters. I want some of the colors to be in the fish so that they look as though they are IN the water, but if it gets too dark, I lift the colors out with my brush and/or a paper towel.

Now let's focus on the bottom fish. I already washed in some vermilion, purple and blue to give it some form. (above) Now I paint in a darker top fin (there's names for these things - I know - is it dorsal?) And paint a darker blue around the negative space at the bottom of the fish, leaving a white lower fin. I also have begun to add the yellow and orange coloring on the top - this part is the most fun. (If you're wondering what the light blue over the eye is - it's masking fluid. When I am done, I will pull it off and there will be white, clean paper underneath.)
Here's a detail of the completed fish. I added more blue to the back and felt the fin was too dark, so I lifted color out of it. I added more shadow to the lower fin and lifted out some scales on the side. I removed the masking fluid over the eyes and whiskers and painted those in.

Here is the finished painting. You'll notice that I added a large area of dark blue between the two main fish. Although I liked what the paint was doing there before, I needed something to unite the fish and bring them together and the deep blue did that as well as adding contrast to their heads and bringing more focus to them.

Then I spattered a bit more to add some looseness and used two of my seals to balance and finish it off. Finally I signed my name. It goes into a show at the Artspace Gallery in Hartford on Saturday. Here's hoping it sells!


声声入耳 said...

excellent painting!
I wish i was on your class.:)

Anonymous said...

this painting was so lovely... if you had posted a bigger version, i'd use it as a wallpaper