I finally completed one koi painting in oil. But before that, I did some more studies in different mediums. I didn’t really enjoy these koi studies as I should have. I felt a bit like ” eating strawberries in the mid winter” and so I feel out of season with the koi paintings and it influenced the “taste”. But I’m happy that I stuck to it and completed at least one painting. I definitely plan to go to the koi farm in summer, where I can seat myself for a day and really get to work on some series.

..koi, oil on linen, 61x37cm

In  step 1, using terpentineI put down thin washes of burnt sienna for the fish shapes and a thin wash of paynes gray and french ultramarine for the background/water.

.…step 1…

In step 2 I added some colour to the fish, cadmium red and yellow to the fish in the foreground and prussian blue to the back fish, to form the shadows. I started using liquin as a medium to have the oi dry quicker, but still have  an oil shine.

…step 2…

In step 3 I darkened the water with a mixture of paynes gray and french ultramarine and softened the shadow marks I made on the yellow fish. this was my first mistake, because I made mud. I left it to dry completely, so I could rework it…the oil was still thin enough to redo without removing the paint.

…step 3…

the last stages was all about adding colour and depth to the fish bodies and depth to the water , while using the same colours I’ve used in the previous steps, with the addition of ochre, raw umber and white.

…koi completed…

When doing the studies for this koi project, I worked mostly from photographs, using about 20 different photos, building my own scenes. I really found it difficult to render the koi in an interesting way. I feel I can do better, which is why I will patiently wait for the koi season to open and I can go and study them in real life.

I also felt that they ask for something a little more abstract or expressive than mere realistic rendering. In the following studies I tried to present them on the page in a little more interesting way. I found it quite exciting and I think I can even push the envelope even further in the expressive domain, which makes me more excited about the series of koi than I was when I started out.

In the meantime, I have a lobster and crab and mussels and oysters and several other shellfish in my freezer, waiting to be sketched and painted and studied. Maybe a new series of sea creatures? So hang around if you’re interested in seeing what will surface – it will be a surprise for me too.

…koi study in charcoal on paper, 22x15cm…

…koi study in graphite on paper, 22x15cm…

…koi study in oil pastel on paper, 22x15cm…

Also posted on Watermarks.

..à bientôt…


11 thoughts on “Koi studies and painting in oil.

  1. Thank you..I find your post very interesting..the koi are beautiful..Interesting to build up using different photos..I forget about trying to paint photos..I just tried one of my grandsons and it was a disaster..
    Very very beautiful work..Bravo~

  2. I enjoyed this post very much. Seeing the steps and the studies helps to understand the process.
    Koi are such elusive animals with their writhing, twisting movements. I wonder if they’d be easier done in pastels where one’s hand can sweep and swirl in movements such as the fish makes.

  3. Ronelle, these are terrific – so much motion and shimmering water in those studies especially. Look forward to the series from the koi farm!

  4. It’s so nice to see all your work, the way it develops, the many times you painted it and in so many different ways. It adds depth and it shows the work behind the one painting.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about “eating strawberries in mid-winter” — I’m working on a beach painting, and it’s really hard to get into the right frame of mind given that there are 5 inches of snow on the ground outside! But I think your koi have turned out beautifully!

  6. Like the others, I love the step-by-step of your colorful koi and the motion. And the chickens are such fun. I love their names.


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