Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A fish out of water

Fish out of Water
5 x 10 watercolour

I received a book of handmade watercolour paper for Christmas. I love new paper, especially hand crafted, but am always loathe to start it. Its as if I need to make sure the first piece is fabulous and all the others follow suit, which, of course, never happens.

I also received a lovely new set of 36 Faber Castell watercolour pencils as well and they are the perfect marriage with the paper and my current set of old watercolour half pans. So then inspiration struck. I'll dedicate this book to Watermarks pieces.

I'm still refreshing my skills in watercolours so there will be the usual mix of good, bad and ugly, but they'll stay within the book and depending on how prolific I get, I may need a second book.

A brace of rainbows
5 x 10 watercolour

I've started out the book with a couple of watercolours which are indeed water-related. Fish! The first watercolour is a combination of a variety of fish species. To me it looks more like a mackerel at least in colouring and definitely more colourful than the average grey/brown tom cod that swims in local waters. The second is a pair of rainbow trout. Trying to capture the irridescence of scales and the sheen of the skin will take practice, but I love the colours that come through and that can be found in fish of all types.

Watercolour seems to be the logical medium for depicting water creatures or water itself. Even though I live on an island, I don't eat as much fish as I could and have a fairly severe allergic reaction to shellfish, which makes me wary of all seafood. I think the build up of toxins in the ocean play a strong role in the increased numbers of allergies experienced with shellfish and ocean fish at times too.

When John Cabot arrived on the shores of Newfoundland 500 years ago, cod was so plentiful that sailors could reportedly scoop them up into their ships with buckets. For Cabot and other early explorers and settlers, Newfoundland's cod was an oceanic jackpot that fostered a lucrative fish trade between North American and European countries.

In 1997, however, the Newfoundland fishery that once drove the province's economy is in a slump. In 1992, the federal government declared a moratorium on cod fishing because of devastatingly low cod stocks. Closing the northern cod harvest put 30,000 Newfoundlanders out of work. By 1993, all Canadian cod fishing was banned

There is, in most year, a week or two allowed by the Federal government of 'recreational' fishing in Newfoundland with a quota of 5 fish per day per person. This doesn't sit well with inshore fishers who maintain, as many do, that the death of the cod fishery lies in the hands of some countries who use large trawlers to harvest cod off Canadian waters as well as scrape up everything in their path, destroying habitat and other species.

10 comments:

Patricia said...

We were talking about eating fish at dinner last night. Our son contends that the amount of poisons that these poor creatures have absorbed is more harmful to us than good. Our Chesapeake Bay is also horribly affected by the results of pollution. The livelihoods of the water men has been devastated. Now the government wants individuals to obtain licenses to fish for crab.

Sydney Harper said...

I don't know, Jeanette, your watercolor skills look refreshed to me. The fish are gorgeous. I like the colors you used.

I have a watercolor sketchbook that I'm always reluctant to use for fear I mess up a painting. I have to keep telling myself it's a sketchbook.

Lindsay said...

Well, this is beautiful. I love the paper white you have left as well as the blues.

Poor Newfoundland's fisheries. I hope someday the fish will recover.
It's a huge loss and who knows what havoc thier demise will bring on other ocean life.

cathsheard said...

Ooh, a book of handmade paper - how lovely! And the fish are rather lovely too; I think you've captured their colours beautifully. Where I live in New Zealand the sea is so rough that the fisheries are protected naturally; fisherman simply can't go out often enough to really deplete the resource. It's a good thing ;-)

africantapestry said...

Beautiful fish Jeanette, I love the colours in your first one and I think you're doing wonders with watercolour. There was a program on French tv last night, discussing the harm done by toxic shellfish especially and how rapidly it is increasing.
Ronell

Jeanette said...

Patricia, I'm quite convinced of that too. I've eaten shellfish all my life til around 10 years ago when a huge allergic reaction was my downfall. Now I don't dare touch the stuff and am wary of most fish in general because of it.

Thanks Sydney. Its funny how so many of us have this fear of new sketchbooks or paper. I'm working hard to make that a thing of the past.

Lindsay, I enjoy the process of creating layers in watercolour - when it works :)

Yes, the fisheries is a shambles, often down to greed and pollution. Unfortunately much of the world's food industry is in a similar state.

Cathsheard, thank you. I love the colours you can find in fish. I need a salmon next! Its never the inshore fisherpeople who cause the problems, its offshore draggers that spell disaster in most cases.

Ronell, thanks. I love the blues in the first too. The second wasn't as fresh or layered. More practice!

Ocean toxins spell disaster for shellfish who live on the bottom. You couldn't pay me enough to eat them now, knowing my reaction to them and scared to ingest whatever pollutants they have fed on.

vivien said...

lovely work Jeanette and your watercolours are fresh and loose

- I love handmade books too - I've just treated myself to a luscious one from ebay - so luscious that I've decided to make it an 'artists book' rather than a sketchbook, trying to make each page a finished piece. Time will tell .... :>D

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Right - I've surfaced from my MAMA posts and can now pay attention to other people's posts!

How lovely to use a journal just for Watermarks pieces!

I've done some fish too and was debating about posting them but I think I will now! They're the still life of Watermarks when they're not swimming around!

That's a frightening story about your fish and the shellfish!

Jeanette said...

Thanks Vivien. I just love this book and am trying to make entries as complete as I can. There is something so appealing about handmade things isn't there?

Katherine, you must be written out after those huge MAMA posts!

Fish are the perfect stilllife for water related subjects. I look forward to seeing your fish soon.

A Brush with Color said...

These fish are positively beautiful! Love the book--hope you post more for us to see. I came via Ronell's mention of your work and I'm glad I did.