From sketchbook

In feedback from part two my tutor suggested a real fish rather than an ornamental fish (which gave me no end of problems) may have worked better for me. And having Turner’s Gurnard in my mind when I saw this beauty sitting on its polystyrene tray and wrapped in cellophane I knew it was for me.


I’m not confident with pastels but after a while realised that I had to be quite forceful with them otherwise they made no impact. I used a beige/grey paper with quite a marked grain which has worked in my favour to get across the pattern of scales. But it’s not very exciting.


Started out with a fine red felt tip, then adding watercolour. I like the colours but he looks a bit flat. Not a very solid fish.

I only had two goes at this fish which is a shame. He had reached his sell-by date, was stinking out the house and sending the cats into a frenzy. I also found it surprisingly tough  staring so intently into the eye of a dead creature, at his muscular form. It seems so very wrong that for the measly price of 3€  I could end this fish’s days of swimming free.

What I take from this exercise:

  • Work in daylight – artificial light has flattened the beauty of this fish
  • Give more consideration to the surface I put the object on, and the background. This was hastily done – a fish slapped on a plate – and it shows.
  • Don’t buy a fish on its sell-by date


The orange blur is one of the cats, just caught red-handed on the counter top trying to make off with the fish. The photo however has made me see that next time I should be more inventive – the fish peeking out of his tray I much prefer.

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