I began this painting with an abstract watercolor and rice paper collage. This would serve as my background for the painting I wanted to create. I thought this particular painting suggested an aquarium-like feeling, so I went in search of a photo reference of a fish.
Thank you to Wet canvas reference library for the photo reference of the fish. I drew the fish on a large sheet of drawing paper, first. I then selected a textured and fairly transparent piece of rice paper and traced the fish drawing onto it with a black sharpie. Any kind of waterproof ink can be used for this phase. The drawing can even be transferred to the rice paper using brush and ink. I then cut and tore my fish image from the sheet of rice paper and affixed it to the surface of my abstract painting. I used one part water to three parts acrylic matte medium to create my glue mixture. I was careful to smooth the image down to the surface of the paper with my brush, I brushed from the center of the image outward in order to get rid of any air bubbles trapped under the image. I waited for this to fully dry before proceeding.
I painted many of the colors from the background through the fish rather than painting the fish to stand out from the background. It was a personal choice but brought some challenges with it by doing so. My fish appeared flat and lost in its background of colors. Had I chosen to use colors less like the background, he may have stood out better.
I carefully cut dark strips of rice papers for my fish’s tail and fins and glued in some colored shapes along his back. I used india ink to blacken his eyes. I used white acrylic for the gills and white around his eyes and mouth. I then tore strips of textured rice paper and shaped some strands of seaweed in and around him. I hoped this would create some depth to my painting.
After the rice papers dried, I painted the seaweed with several shades of green watercolor and acrylic white. This helped to give some depth to the painting as well as help the fish to become more visible within it.
The last thing I did was to push his head forward more and make it more visible by washing in acrylic white and cerulean blue washes under his chin and left side of his face. This helped to lighten the background without getting rid of the local color and shapes already there.
To view other rice paper paintings I have created click here.