Oblivious (7x10 inch Transparent Watercolor on Arches 140lb HP paper)

Oblivious (7×10-inch Transparent Watercolor on Arches 140lb HP paper)

This was a fun painting to work on, but portions of it were difficult because it was out of my usual comfort zone. Loosening up is hard for me. 

I was doodling in my sketchbook during my daughter’s piano lesson, trying to come up with some totally made-up deep sea creatures. The first critter I created looked a bit grumpy. Though it possessed some elements I liked, on the whole it didn’t quite work.
I sketched a second version that I really liked, this time with its mouth wide open. In the end it looked a bit like a great white shark crossed with an angler fish. There was something about that dopey, smiling face that clicked. After reworking it and adding a few more fish, I thought the image was starting to tell a little bit of a story.

The most fun aspect of painting this image was making the super-saturated background. Because of my medical illustration background, I tend to be very literal. For this to work visually, I had to throw a lot of that out the window and concentrate on having fun. The image is mostly lit from the point light source of the angerfish’s lamp. That made for some difficult painting. Logically, most of the scene would be in dark shadows or invisible, but I chose to render a tiny bit of ambient light so you could see more of the surroundings. I’m sure that at such a depth real fish are totally devoid of coloration, but to have the little guys show up I chose some bright, crazy colors.


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