The Boar Beta

If I saw this thing in the water with me I'd probably faint.

And then I'd likely proceed to drown. Thank goodness they don't exist. Beta are already aggressive enough, I can't imagine the bloody chaos that would ensue if they were elephant-sized and possessed gigantic tusks.

Imagination aside, I'm very pleased with this piece, mostly because it took me by absolute surprise. I saw a picture of a very pretty fish and decided to shamelessly copy and paint it in order to have something to take my mind off the rather stressful August I've had. Then I decided to at least try something new while I was rather blatantly tracing this fish: I took a page out of Wylie Beckert's book and experimented a bit with parts of her art-making process.

At least that's how it all started.

I tried a looser trace than what I do normally, but the beautiful, tiny fishy was not to be: I couldn't get my mind off of a certain prehistoric crocodile, and all of a sudden the fish before me had tusks and horns. As much as it terrified me, entertaining the thought of a gigantic, bloodthirsty, beautifully frivilous fish was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Imagine a breeding industry arising around a fish that must be so impossible to keep . . . Perhaps that will be a feature in a future story of mine (you heard it here first, folks).

Original Photoshop trace, knocked down to 18% opacity for printing.

Back to the art discussion, Beckert keeps her sketches and her final paintings separate by scanning the drawings and reprinting them on a separate sheet of paper at a lighter opacity for greater flexibility when it comes to experimenting with final details. With nothing to lose, I busted out the non-photo blue pencil and got to refining the print of the above sketch.

And above is the final ink drawing, scanned so the blue pencil is just barely visible (the pencil did not show up on the final reproduction that I painted on top of). I'm absolutely loving all my new brush pens, particularly how they gave me the ability to perfectly break up the confusing lines in the fins with some thicker strokes. Those strokes give the eye a place to rest among all that craziness.

I'm also in love with his big, fleshy jowls and eye sockets. I think his face is my favorite part of the whole piece.

And all that was left to do was paint the final print. Now that I have a large-format printer at home, I can say that next time I'll definitely print on better paper. The marker paper I used took the watercolor beautifully but the india ink . . . not so much. I wouldn't mind redoing it just to get that flashlight beam right.


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