Koi Carp – Watercolour

This week I finally made it back to work!!!  I also worked on finishing a watercolour painting of a Koi Carp which I began before I was ill.  I have a really strong fascination with fish.  They just amaze and delight me.  And I think Koi are some of the most beautiful.

I used to keep fish and would like to do so again when my health is up to doing the tank maintenance properly.

Here are some of the tanks I’ve had in the past…


30 Gallon Angel Fish Aquarium


small tank inside

5 Gallon Betta Aquarium



15 Gallon Tiger Barb Planted Tank with DIY CO2.


Anyway, bakc to painting.  I had this idea for a Koi picture and I sketched it out on the PC using photoshop and my wacom drawing tablet.  I filled in some quick colours and moved things around until I had a good plan of how I wanted the picture.

Here’s the plan…



Then I got out a lovely big A3 sheet of cold pressed watercolour paper and started to sketch…



Here are some painting process photos…

I covered the fish and the flowers with masking fluid and then painted a varigated green background and added some sharp dark shadows.


I painted my rocks.  Above is the first layer – it took three to get the texture and colours I wanted.



After that I added in my foliage.  This also took several layers.

Then I cleaned off the masking fluid and began painting the fish!!!!!   Yay!!!



…But no…  My original plan was to paint the Koi in a traditional loose wet in wet watercolour style and to contrast this with a sharp tight background.  My idea was that the wet in wet technique would help the fish look below the water.  However, the masking fluid didn’t cover the paper as well as I’d hoped so I had some background colour steaks and some shadow colour streaks right across the white area where I want to paint my fish.    It was a real pain.

So I had a bit of a think and then went to plan B.  I painted several coats of white gouache over the marked paper and then used more of a gouache technique to paint the fish.  It gave it a different feel, where the Koi is surfacing temporarily, but I think I’ve ended up with something that works well enough.

Here’s the final painting…





Fever Dreams and Drawings

So while I’ve been unwell I was awake at night a lot of the time with a high fever and asthma.  When I’m feeling like that, especially if the asthma is bad I have to keep calm.  If I get fearful it gets worse.  Now my number one calming activity is drawing!  So I occasionally made a middle of the night drawing while trying to cope with all of this stuff.  A lot of the time I couldn’t draw because the steroids make my hands shake, but when I could control it I had a go.

I also watched a lot of fishing videos on youtube from bed with my android tablet and this led to some fish and fishing drawings.

Here’s a fiesty little Perch…


[Ink on sketchbook paper (plus I used a waterbrush to make some greyscale tones).]

And here’s fisherman who’s about to get the bite of his life from a gigantic sailfin catfish…


[pencil on sketchbook paper]


While I was working through this illness I kept having this recurring dream that I was trapped inside a gasmask which was full of pond water and bubbled everytime I breathed.  I guess it was just my mind’s way of dealing with illness.  This is the picture I drew of that…




[pencil on sketchbook paper]


Another night I had a go at sketching a hood – always difficult to do well and essential for any artist who is a Jedi fan…



[pencil on sketchbook paper]


I also drew a bee.  I’ve had half a bee and my background hexagons in my sketchbook for 6 months or so and  I thought it was time to finish her off…



[Ink on sketchbook paper]

Lastly I made an ink drawing of my favourite tropical fish Betta spendens – the siamese fighting fish – and a more technical sketch of a ecosystem in a lightbulb which I saw on YouTube…






My plan for my blog now is to paint a full-size proper painting every week to two weeks here now rather than continuing to sketch lots of tiny stuff like this.  I want to see how all of this sketching and ink practice has changed my overall painting skills.

I began one bigger painting just before I got sick, it’s of a koi carp, but it’s been taped to my drawing board and resting on the piano stool for so long now it’s beginning to put down roots!  As soon as I’m fit enough I’ll paint it.  Can’t wait!

Still Unwell…



I’m still struggling with this chest infection.  At least half term is coming up next week which should give me a chance to get better without letting anyone down at school.

Doctors are still checking every orafice…



(PS:  Both images in today’s entry are not my own.  The Calvin and Hobbes cartoon is by the wonderful Bill Watterson and the cat is a an internet meme.)