one fish

Three Fish; casein tempera on panel; 10" x 8"

You don't see the threads - or washers - or rod in the painting.  But in real life they were necessary to keep the plastic-toy fish steady and in one place.  And you can see a few of the bubbles but certainly not all of them.  It's important to remember what the painting is about and not paint all that you see.

The two refracted images of the fish plus its shadow make up the title.  I didn't think about Dr. Seuss's "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" when I was painting this.  Instead, I concentrated on the strong light and dark shape harmony, the repeated ellipses and the orange/turquoise color complements.  The rectangle in the upper right represents wood-slat blinds.  It seemed unnecessary and distracting to render that beyond an outline and color.  The focus is the fish and, as painted, the blinds echo its color without stealing the show.

This is a February painting - done under lamp light in the evening.  It was done standing at my field easel - in preparation for painting outside soon.  My summer calendar months are filling up with plein air contest possibilities.  I've been writing quite a few of the organizers of these events asking if casein will be allowed.  So far all have been very welcoming.  The saying, "It's better to ask forgiveness than permission," does not apply in this case.  It would be a shame to make all of the arrangements, haul my gear to an event and find out casein paintings will not be included.  Luckily, it's easy to ask via email - and fortunately, all the responses have been positive.  I'm getting excited for spring!


Jan said...

Again, well done, Mary! It must have been a real PITA to set up the arrangement for painting but the result is awesome.

Glad casein has been accepted at your plein air events. That's something I don't like to do but, I don't paint landscapes as a general rule and the weather here during plein air events is so hot and steamy that you can't concentrate on the painting! Taking photos outside is about the best I can manage these days!

Anyway, I look forward to the results of your outings!

Mary Klein said...

Thanks, Jan! It WAS a pain - and comical too. For how serious the painting looks the set-up was equally ridiculous :) But somehow you can block that all out when you're painting - just keep the focus on what the painting is about. Not unlike working from the nude model. If I thought too much about how bizarre that situation would seem to most of the rest of the world, I'd get bogged down. As it is, you're so focused on the lighting, form and gesture - you really don't have time to think of much else.

Painting outside is definitely an acquired taste. But if you can get past the 'camping' aspect of it, you can learn so much about colors and values. The biggest difference, though, is time. You've got to work very fast outside and, as a result, you can make some insightful discoveries about yourself as an artist. I certainly don't knock painting from photo reference. I do a fair amount of that myself. But if you can get the chance to paint out - even a few times - I think you'd be amazed at what you can see and do.

I started with a creaky old Yarka field easel and told myself if I painted 100 outdoor paintings with it I could 'earn' a Julian. I still have that Julian - even though I've been tempted to get some of the snazzier easels offered nowadays. And it's really not THAT heavy - certainly lighter than a standard poodle - or a lab - or a Rottweiler/Doberman mix :)

Jan said...

Does painting from the back porch count? lol It's not just the heat and humidity but the fact that

1) my subject preference is animals who don't usually hang around for long IF they let you get close to begin with!
2) I'm a very slow painter and usually do a stroke here and there (why gouache works better than casein for me)
3) and we've already discussed the fact that this old body ain't what it used to be

Anyway, I admire plein air painters but I don't think it's a taste I'll acquire at this stage in life!

I'm glad you enjoy it though and I'm sure your plein air paintings will reflect that.

Mary Klein said...

Painting from the back porch definitely counts! But I hear you on the other points. In the summer here we have heat, humidity AND monstrous mosquitoes. Some people call them our state bird :)