A Gurnard, 1839-1940, JMW Turner

I only made it to the very last day of the exhibition Turner Et La Couleur in Aix-en-Provence. It was heaving! People were queuing to see each painting, jostled and pushed.

I sought out the least popular paintings and caught myself this beautiful fish:

2006av7124_jpg_dsIt seems to have found me just at the right moment; I am about to break in to colour with the Part Two, Exercise Three and I’m nervous.  Here Turner has used watercolour and gouache on grey paper. He lets the fish’s silvery underside disappear into the paper. The merest brush of what looks like dry white paint gives the impression of silver scales catching the light. That’s all it takes. A smudge of blue and grey suggest the mouth.

One of the aspects of my drawing that I’ve wanted to work on is to break up the line a little sometimes to soften it, sometimes to let it go completely, just disappear. And here is Turner with a little reminder for me. He hasn’t drawn an outline of his fish. A sweep of blue highlights the darker-toned head of the fish and the roof of the silvery mouth. The underside is barely suggested, and yet it’s all there, just caught and lying on wet sand.

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