Painted this during the Florida's Forgotten Coast Plein Air Invitational a couple of weeks ago. The entire time I was in the gulf, I felt this need to paint something other than the usual boats, dunes, and water. Someone had just dumped this net of fish on the boardwalk in Mexico Beach. There were probably a couple of hundred little fish there.
Jim Richards and I had just been talking at lunch about painting some fish, and low and behold, here they were. He and I set up right next to each other and painted. We did take pity on the ones that were still "breathing," and threw them back in the water . . . well, actually Jim threw them back in and I did my job just pointing them out for him to pick up.
This is one of those tiny little works that just almost painted itself. I could see it finished before I ever started. There were lots of people on the boardwalk who had come to watch artists demonstrate that day. They thought we were nuts for painting a pile of fish. As I stained my canvas really dark (much darker than normal), and began to wipe away spots for the abstract fish pattern, onlookers (unsure of what in the world I was doing) just shook their heads and went on to watch another artist paint. About 30 minutes into the painting it had already taken shape just like I had imagined. It's a great feeling when that happens. At that point I could stop and take a little break for some cold lemonade one of the local ladies brought to me. (They are so nice in Mexico Beach). Another 30 minutes and the painting was complete. Not sure if the colors will render well here. The fish were very shiny and sparkly with blues and violets and greens.
On another note: I don't usually paint in sunglasses. It makes it harder for me to tell the values I am seeing. That is one reason why I intentionally stained my canvas darker than normal. It gave me that piece of reference I needed to keep the key of the painting correct and not be tempted to paint the fish too light. The Panama City newspaper snapped a picture and posted it with a story entitled, "Artists Under 'Pier' Pressure." There I was with my gray pony tail, orange Mexico Beach hat, and jeweled sunglasses. I really must do something about that image!