Fish Fails

After a successful catching, drawing and release of a sunfish from Lake Nokomis last year, I have been very compelled to draw fish. I am no ice fisherman, so I have been without access to said fish for what feels like at least 9 months.

Some of my fish ideas involve goldfish. I have hesitated to get into all of that because I have had fish before and aquariums are a lot of work! Not to mention the days of keeping goldfish in a bowl are long gone. Apparently they like 10-20 gallons EACH, can grow up to 6″ and eat things like spinach and peas. Yikes.

My dream was a bowl or a 2-5 gallon little setup. I thought maybe I could get smaller fish like guppies to keep it simple and be a responsible fish parent. My vision just doesn’t go with guppies.

Goldfish are ubiquitous, everyone has had at least one. Everyone knows them and most people (even if you don’t want to admit it) feel they are kind of a “throw away” pet. Like if your kid gets one and overfeeds it accidentally, you can get a new one for a couple bucks. I feel that for my drawing ideas I need that part -be it right or wrong – of the symbolism of the goldfish.

Ironically, that means I can’t buy the 4-5 fish I want and put them in a tiny bowl. (I totally have done this as a kid! It would be so nice and easy, too. I had no idea it wasn’t very nice.)

So I invested in a nice tank, set it up first and then when it was ready, bought a couple goldfish to begin with. Unfortunately for everyone, they passed away. After a couple weeks – one minute they are fine swimming all over the place happily – the next, belly up.

I thought I was doing a good job too – a nice set up with filter and changing a percentage of the water out often.

So I didn’t get to realize most of my ideas – even in reference photography. I got a few good ones, but nothing as philosophical as I would have liked.

Some times a project becomes “cursed.” This isn’t the fish’s fault – I believe they would not blame me for what happened.  Some projects just begin on a bad foot and never recover.

So about six layers and more than ten hours in to my drawing, the “fawn” colored Stonehenge I was using began to break up. I don’t know if it was the age of this paper or it’s softness. I find this color of Stonehenge to be much softer than other colors. One patch in the right half of the board had fuzzed up as well as a spot on the middle fish. I thought I could work through it, but then in my next background layer, I discovered the paper just would not hold the necessary layers. I had about four layers on the background and needed at least one more in most of the jar area.

So I started over. Ouch.

Here is how far I got and a close-up of the paper coming apart.



Hopefully I can use this as an experiment in varnishing at a later date.

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