Friday, November 20, 2015

Obsessed With: Goldfish!

You may have noticed fish popping up in my art over the past half year or so:
If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen a lot more fish, first appearing in my sketchbooks and then, finally on my painting table in watercolor.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, orange, goldfish, painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

What's with all the fish?

Truth be told, I have been wanting to paint goldfish for a very long time.

Since childhood the image of the goldfish has been iconic to me. The joyful flash of orange in pond or tank (or bowl -- I love the image, but goldfish bowls are inhumane) was irresistible.

Once in seventh grade I sketched a portrait of my new pet goldfish on a math quiz. I'm not sure why I even remember that. Maybe because I was so happy about my pet and a bit proud of my sketch (of my math quiz, I have no recollection).

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Symbolically goldfish and koi represent luck, tranquility, harmony, long life, happiness, wealth, fertility and altered states of perception.

To me the represent joy.

Not a surprise, then, that I'd want to paint them.

Once I started painting them, it was hard to stop.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The three large fish seen from overhead were my first experiment.

I loved the look of the bight orange fish against the white of the paper. I was curious, though, and and tried painting a fish in a background of gorgeous pale blues and greens.

It didn't work for me. The background seemed to mute the bright orange, distracting attention away from the fish.

After that I left my signature white backgrounds.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

These first batches made me so happy, but I felt that they weren't quite right.

I started experimenting with a lighter, looser touch. I used a large paper and a large brush and painted fish after fish after fish.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

These weren't quite right, either, but I liked the varying colors and shapes.

I painted more.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The next batch was painted a little more carefully.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The multi-colored fish are my favorite.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Watching fish swim in a tank is soothing.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Painting them is soothing, too.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I used to keep goldfish in a 55 gallon tank. They were so beautiful. Eventually I had problems with disease. The tank was left empty for a while and then when we moved we ended up giving it away. I'm wishing that we'd found a spot to tuck it into the moving truck because I miss having fish and can't afford to buy a whole new set-up right now.

But paint them?

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, watercolor painting, goldfish painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Yes, I can do that.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, watercolor painting, goldfish painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Fantasies of my future garden always include a fish pond. Fantasies of my some-day studio always include a big tank with goldfish.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, watercolor painting, goldfish painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Goldfish and gardens are linked in my mind. Probably because as I child I visited so many public gardens where there were goldfish or koi ponds. They made a lasting impression on me.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, watercolor painting, goldfish painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

So it's not really weird for someone whose inspiration comes from the garden to be painting fish.

watercolor, watercolor goldfish, watercolor painting, goldfish painting, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

But I'm afraid my Instagram followers have forgotten that I paint anything other than goldfish!

I'm moving on to other things but I'm sure I'll come back to fish again. They're like vitamins for my spirit, fortifying me with joy.

I'll be adding some fish to my shops, so keep an eye out if you're interested. (Edit: three of them are now available here, here and here!)

Oh, and there's this, too:

goldfish repeat pattern, fabric design, watercolor, watercolor goldfish, orange, goldfish, painting, watercolor repeat pattern, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Edit: a revised version of my watercolor goldfish fabric is now available on Spoonflower as part of my Summer Bliss fabric collection.

watercolor goldfish, fabric design, Summer Bliss, My Giant Strawberry


I guess it was inevitable.

What about you? What images or icons never fail to bring you joy?

8 comments:

  1. Absolutely beautiful! You have captured the tranquility and delicacy of the goldfish so very well Anne. I am sure that your daily sketches and your collaborative sketch book with Dana have played a big part in developing your myriad of art skills. I can't wait to see what else you produce. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Simone! :)

      I hope you're having a rejuvenating rest from your blog and that you've been finding time for creativity and making joy.

      Wishing you all the best!

      Delete
  2. I love your goldfish story, paintings and fabric! It came out great. I can't wait to see it printed on fabric. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Dana! It's been so much fun. :)

      Delete
  3. I love all your flower paintings, but honestly the fish are my favorite! They're so joyful to me, too, and I loved reading the background on them. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Laurie! They're my favorite now, too. :)

      Delete
  4. I love the joy you put into your art, Anne. Your goldfish are full of lovely colors, movement and delicate fins. Thank you for sharing the story here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sharon! This has been my favorite series so far! :)

      Delete