Inspiration month con­tin­ues here at Unruley Articles … and today I’d like to talk fish.


Koi Carp

Koi Carp


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.

Small Koi

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. :-)

Red Koi


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