First the Angel Fish
This week I played around again with painting effects. This time I used a watercolour base with pencils on top for detail.
I began with a simple light sketch…
Then I drew heavier lines to push my subject forward and emphasise the shape…
Next I began a watercolour background. I used a wet in wet technique to drop various colours onto wet paper. It was tricky to get things exactly how I wanted and I had to use my hairdryer to get the paint to dry in the state I liked without it pooling. Here’s a picture…
Unfortunately the camera wont pick up the shades of blue I used. I had some parts in cerulean blue with a little paynes grey to damp it down slightly and other parts in ultramarine but the camera on my phone doesn’t seem to pick up the ultramarine, I wonder if it is weak at picking up reds? Or if it was running some kind of filter to normalise photos taken in a room with warm artificial light? Anyway, after seeing this I think I’m going to take future photos with my Canon camera.
Next I painted in the weed…
Then finally I painted some base colour for my fish and put some wet on dry lines around the edges of my weed to give it some more definition. After that I used coloured pencils (I think I used my Aquarelles for this one) to add the pattern details to the fish.
Here’s the final picture…
I have very mixed feelings about this one. I really like the colour harmony in the painting and the general design. My favourite part is the wet in wet background. However I have massive issues with the fish looking like no fish alive on earth really looks. I was going for an abstract pattern effect on her but it really bothers me when things don’t look like they really are. It feels like a lie to me.
I love other paintings of this type, with patterns and unreal colours, which is why I tried to do one myself. But I used a real angel fish photo as a reference, from my 30 gallon angel fish tank, and so my painting feels like a lie.
Autism, lies and imagination
One of the biggest issues I face with autism is the way I view lies. For as long as I can remember (which is back to 3 or 4 years old) I have struggled with lies.
In the beginning I didn’t know that such a thing existed. I always said exactly what I thought, which got me into endless trouble, and I thought other people did the same so I never understood why I was ‘rude’ or ‘tactless’. When people said things that weren’t true I thought that they had remembered something wrong or were a bit stupid and didn’t know the truth.
I think I was about 12 when I realised that people told lies sometimes. A girl at school had written on the desk and then the teacher caught her and she said that the writing was already there and she was just looking at it, but I saw her write it! I knew she wasn’t stupid and she had just been doing it so she couldn’t have forgotten. It was horrible to realise that people could deliberately say things that weren’t true.
To me lies make me feel sick, they feel like that famous painting ‘The Scream’ by Munch
It’s like reality gets all bent and twisted by lies. I really really hate that. Although I am capable of telling lies now as an adult, I very rarely do because it feels so awful. When I don’t like people to know the truth I just don’t say anything – that’s my lying. They call it lying by omission.
I also get the opposite effect from my view of lies if I fail to draw my perpective correctly in a drawing. The picture looks all skewed and, consequently, feels like a lie even though it’s really just a bad rendering of perspective on my part.
So how, as an artist, do I make interpretive paintings?
I saw a great video about watercolour painting on YouTube by a lady called Cathy Johnson.
Here it is…
Rather than paint exactly what’s there she does something she calls ‘suggesting’ what is there. It has a beautiful, loose and lively effect which I totally love but I can’t do it with the place, or a photo of the place, in front of me because it feels like lying.
So how can I use imagination and suggestion to make my paintings less realistic and more real?
I think the only way is to sketch how things are on location or from a photo and then leave the location or put away the photo while I paint the sketch. Then instead of painting the truth of my eyes maybe I could try painting the truth of my heart. So the picture would still be true but it would not refect the reality of the place photographically, it would reflect it emotionally?