Crazy Fish Caricatures: Eight Transparent Watercolor Paintings

Trash Fish (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Trash Fish (3.5×5.75-inch Transparent Watercolor)

Gatorface (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Gatorface (3.5×5.75-inch Transparent Watercolor)

Smug (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Smug (3.5×5.75-inch Transparent Watercolor)

Shoeface (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Shoeface (3.5×5.75-inch Transparent Watercolor)

Picklefish (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Picklefish (3.5×5.75 inch-Transparent Watercolor)

Grump (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Grump (3.5×5.75-inch Transparent Watercolor)

Glum Chum (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Glum Chum (3.5×5.75-inch Transparent Watercolor)

Psycho Goldfish (3.5x5.75 inch Transparent Watercolor)

Psycho Goldfish (3.5×5.75-inch Transparent Watercolor)

Now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! 

I suppose these are going to need some serious explanation. After spending close to a hundred hours on my previous painting, I thought it made sense to do a few quick pieces. Now I’ve never been master of the “loose watercolor.” In fact, I’ve always been a bit envious of those who can keep everything fresh and fun. My friend Don Brown is a master of that style, doing fantastic watercolor and ink paintings for his incredible children’s books. Have a peek at and to see some of his genius. I thought it would be fun to try my hand at something a little less heavily rendered than usual. I managed to paint the backgrounds pretty loose and splashy, but try as I might to prevent it, the fish themselves ended up moderately tight.

Why fish? I’m not really sure. When I was in high school, I spent an embarrassing amount of time drawing a school of cartoon fish and cartoon penguins playing electric guitars. I usually did my drawing at home, but I confess that, yes, I would occasionally doodle during class. I’m sorry.

Once in study hall, I finished what I thought was a particularly hilarious creation involving some low-brow toilet humor. Then I subtly tilted my notebook to share it with my friend Bill Q. Now, Bill was a great artist and had a wicked sense of humor. I still laugh remembering many of his one-liners. He was a true connoisseur of creations like this and the perfect audience for the comic subtleties of this scatological masterpiece. Upon seeing it, Bill audibly chuckled, and I got caught. The teacher ordered me to bring it to the front of the room. I embarked on the march of shame to his desk. With a sour demeanor he inspected it, then burst out laughing. He folded it shut, gave it back to me, and that was the end of it. Thank goodness he appreciated “Fine Art.”

You wouldn’t dream risking a doodle with some teachers at that school. Sr. Marie Catherine, for example, was a history teacher both feared and respected. She really was an amazing and dedicated educator. If you were drawing in her class, it had better be a map of the Aegean Sea, the Dardanelles, Sea of Marmara, Bosphorus Strait or the Black Sea, or you were in for some serious trouble. As part of her class we spent the first ten minutes being quizzed on current events. She expected you to read the newspaper. Well, I dutifully “read” the newspaper every day. Unfortunately, where I fell short was that I always started with—and spent the most time on—the comics. Those were always completely fresh in my mind the next day in her class. The front page stories, unfortunately, were pretty fuzzy in the ole memory banks. I knew better than to tell Sr. Marie Catherine about what Hagar the Horrible and B.C. were up to. Garfield didn’t really discuss Solidarność or Anwar Sadat with Jon and Odie. I seldom could remember what happened at the front of the newspaper. I looked at the headlines last and honestly spent a lot less time there. I’m a fairly visual learner, and back in the early 80’s there were few photos in the paper, and they definitely weren’t in color! A well-prepared student like my friend Carm would quickly recall a headline about Idi Amin or the Hostage Crisis in Iran, and only then would I remember any details. Too late. Maybe they should have some cartoons with those stories as well to draw in knuckleheads like me?

How I settled on fish and penguins as subject matter I can’t precisely recall, but I remember trying to think of a cartoon that hadn’t already been done, and I hated drawing people. They weren’t particularly good drawings, but they did get better with time. I still find myself doodling mentally unstable animals and miswired humans when I’m confronted with a few spare minutes, a scrap of paper and any sort of drawing instrument. 

Over the past few years I’ve had clients asking for cartoons and caricatures rather than 3D and Photoshop art. I think people may be tired of the more highly rendered art. I’ll try to post some samples of those creations in the near future.

If you’re interested, these fish will be available on Etsy soon. If you’d like to buy a print or original, let me know. Keep in mind that the images above show the fish at larger than actual size.


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