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…





12 thoughts on “Koi Carp – Watercolour

  1. I like gouache too. 🙂 That basement pond sounds brilliant! I used to have a fighting fish (Betta) called Anthony who would take food from my fingers. I would love to feel that with Koi!!!!!


  2. Gouache works for me! I’m definitely not a transparent watercolor purist. And speaking of koi, I love them too. I had some friends who had a koi pond in their basement! If you held your hand out with fish food in it, they would eat from your hand. Really strange to feel fish nibbles!

    Liked by 1 person

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