Imaginary Paint: Fish Don’t Blink

Nicole Van Fleet Kingery

It’s watercolor time! In honor of painting with watercolors, I decided to paint some adorable little fish. Get it? Because it’s water-color. And fish live in water. Ok. I’ll stop now. I’m not really a fan of watercolors. They always dry either too quickly or too slowly and I’m never able to achieve a solid gradient when working on a piece as big as this one. It was especially hard to work around the fish and, in the process of painting the background, I even painted over one of my fish drawings. The struggle was real. Nevertheless, I tried.

My idea for this piece came from the stylized fishies at the top of the painting which are a common doodle of mine which is strongly tied to boredom. I just wanted to paint some inaccurately sized marine life in places where they realistically might be found in the ocean (my marine science teacher would be proud). I drew them all in a similar style to my initial fish and ended up really liking the look of some of the bigger animals like the whale, angler fish and shark.

Speaking of sharks, my favorite song about sharks is The Great White Shark Song. (Thought I was going to say Baby Shark, didn’t you?) But all jokes aside, that song defined my childhood. Once my dad discovered the song, he wouldn’t hesitate at the chance to bring it up in just about any conversation. In response to any level of curiosity, he would whip out his phone and show them the YouTube video, which caused the song to be stuck in my head for eternity.

After painting all the fish in, I filled the fishes’ eyes with a white jelly roll pen and I went over everything with a black fine liner to give it a more cartoonish feel. Overall, I really like the end result and the various types of fish that were included. The rocks were fun to play with in terms of texture/shadows whereas the rest of the painting was, for the most part, flat. I learned more about watercolors while making this painting and appreciate them a bit more. Still, I’ll need a lot more practice if I ever want to reach the level of the watercolor painters I watch on YouTube.