Frenetic Fish

Or maybe I am the frenetic one!



I finally reached a level of satisfaction with the second painting for my London College of Art assignment – capturing movement. This has been a long, long, LONG process with many twists and turns, and not just by the fish! I changed my mind about colours, composition, techniques, you name it – it changed! But I managed to produce a painting that I like, with vibrant colours, contrasts and a sense of movement. Yay!

The journey for this one has taken far longer than I intended, and there have been many frustrations along the way, as I am always seeking that elusive “loose, but succinct” result. After much experimentation with the order of painting the background vs foreground, I went for the loose background wash, Jean Haine’s style, and then fitted the fish in on top, adding some background splashes and texture as I went along. I played with salt and wax and sponging, but in the end I did not use any of these in the final version. Needless to say, I have learnt quite a lot in the process – mostly that I am far too impetuous and impatient!

I nearly decided to stop with the third and second to last versions, deciding that

Life is too short for a perfect painting

but I felt that after putting so much effort into trying to depict the subject in a certain way, I wanted to give it just one more go, and …. then another! And then – I got it!

In the final version – the composition is “quirky” – koi tend to cluster and mob, but here they are more isolated and I actually like the sense of space that they are enjoying.

The final colours are

  • Koi: Translucent Orange (Schmincke), Cadmium Red (Daniel Smith), Quin Gold (W&N), Hansa Yellow (DS) ; Indigo (W&N Cotman) for shading
  • Background: Perelyne Green (DS) & Sleeping Beauty Turquoise (DS); with splashes of White gouache
Trial and error

Trial and error

~ by Tomorrowslices on May 18, 2013.

4 Responses to “Frenetic Fish”

  1. I love both the final result as well as following your process! I’m under the delusion that paintings are not rehearsed, but done in one go, as a result I never make it past the first background because I just know I’ll ruin it when I continue. 😉 I guess eventually I’ll have to suck it up and just practise.

    • Hi Pia – thanks for commenting. I have those moments of hesitation too, many times – sometimes more of a “freeze” – that I should just leave the background as an abstract! But then I would never get anywhere near the painting that I am trying to get out of my head onto the paper.

      It is all about practice – I wish there was an easier way, but I’m learning that there are no short-cuts! And we just have to keep remembering – it’s only paper and paint and tomorrow we can start a new one, or paint a completely different subject…. Take care and happy creating!

  2. This is brilliant work and it’s my favorite of all your paintings. I loved reading about your process and experimenting. What it has shown me is that I should be experimenting and discover.

    • Wow, thank you, Mary – I am so glad you like it! All my experiments start off as “this is the One”, and then most of them get relegated to “just an experiment” – but they do have their uses!

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