Much ado about a fish

So this week's big effort (besides finally launching this portfolio! Woohoo!), was my decision to give semi naked 'geisha'  paintings a break and go back to paint my other favorite... fish!

I felt like I did well enough in the last few that I should really up the ante this time. The first time I painted a fish in watercolour was this fellow: 

 

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Not bad for a first effort, I guess! So then I somehow got it in my head that I should get all dramatic and artsy by drawing a fish in silhouette:  

 

Hmm...something's off here.  

Hmm...something's off here.  

And this is where I get a little carried away. Turns out, if you're going to do a silhouette, your blacks should be very dark and ideally, you're not painting this all on cream coloured paper. A background would have been nice. But I did none of that, so I admit this piece wasn't as satisfying because a few hours later I went back and added an eye to give the work a sense of finality. 

So here we are, lucky number three. I still wanted to do a darker fish than the first, but not as goth as my second attempt. As usual, Pinterest is great and gave me lots of darker looking betta fish photos to study.  

When I had an idea of what I wanted, I started sketching away and working on the fish body: 

 

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In this photo, the pencil sketch is still visible. Although I say pencil, I actually just use an HB mechanical pencil for sketching - it's easier, no sharpening to do and I like the fine lines (sucks for shading though, but I never usually shade my stuff anyway). After I sketched the entire fish, I went over the body with my brush and when I got most of the main colours down I traced parts of the scales with a 005 pen.

Then I put in all the yellow highlights in the tail and tried not to freak out when the lemon yellow looked very fluorescent when it dried. This turned out to be okay later on. 

 

Here's the final version! 

Here's the final version! 

We're going to fast forward a little because I didn't actually take too many photos. As usual, the whole mental exercise of trying to reign in your inner critic while painting occurred when I was adding colour and detail to the tail. But after a few paintings now, I know it's just a mental phase where I have to trust that I have an image I want to represent and that...you know, this is art! It's expressive, it's fun and fluid. How dare, I use a different shade of blue by mistake...what will people think if they see green in a place where there shouldn't be any..well, the answer, I told myself, is: chill. What people think isn't any of my business, but how I feel at the end of this painting is - and I shouldn't come out more stressed than before I started. Sometimes this sort of inner debate can get really intense and that's when I stand up, stretch and make a cup of tea. Much tea is consumed when I paint. 

So people, whenever you see any kind of artist / performer / maker put themselves out there..if you ever see them work live, in person, know that despite looking like a free, creative  spirit, inside all of them is a never ending, self-manufactured storm. I myself am only starting to understand now, that to be a maker means growing past this mindset that I must only be a 2 dimensional font of creative energy. Like a lightning rod or something. I'm slowly starting to see now that the turmoil I experience is really all part of it.