Inspiration month continues here at Unruley Articles … and today I’d like to talk fish.
I like fish — they’re probably my favorite subject for painting (well, I like woods as well, but it’s hard to combine the two).
I particularly like Koi carp. I love the serene and mysterious way that they glide through dark water. Silent torpedoes of colour against the blackness.
I can tell you the point at which I realised just how beautiful they are: it was a couple of days before I got married.
I was in Portland, Oregon with my wife-to-be. We were at the Portland Japanese Garden - it’s an amazing place: if you ever get a chance to visit, you should. Set in a pine forest, the garden is a beautiful series of vistas, linked by a winding path. Misha and I walked around it amazed: here was a bamboo grove, here a Japanese gate, here a zen garden, here a stone pagoda. And here a reflecting pool filled with Koi.
We took lots of photos (see our flickr set for more) — it’s actually pretty difficult to get a decent picture of them. The water makes focusing difficult, and has a tendency to reflect the sky and hide the fish. Plus the little blighters don’t stay still for very long — you line up a shot then with a whisk of their tail they’re out of the frame.
We visited the garden again after our wedding: a bittersweet visit, as I was leaving that afternoon to return to the UK, leaving my wife behind until we could get her visa sorted*. So that visit, and that time in Portland generally, made a strong impression upon me.
Little wonder then that when I was looking for something to paint, the image of bright, streamlined shapes against a dark background returned to me. I produced several pictures of fish — some of which hang in our home, others hanging in other people’s homes. There’s even one in a pub!
*My wife’s visa did get sorted, by the way, and she joined me in the UK a few months later.
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