Monday, January 09, 2012

Fisherman's Cut

Fisherman's Cut  - SOLD
19" x 25"
gyotaku/watercolour


I've been pulling out old gyotaku prints and seeing if I can revitalize them using various techniques from simple washes to wax batik and so far its going well.

Tonight I pulled out a cod print.  Cod are - well, were - the staple fish of Newfoundland as well as many countries in the world, all harvested off our shores.  With the moratorium on cod in 1992, catching these fish was relegated to several weeks during the year as recreational.  With this short window of opportunity, people fished limited quantities from shore and boat and finding a whole one to print was difficult.  People did not want to give up a food fish easily.


A friend with a boat and a willing participant to go out on the high seas were found and cod were caught.  I asked that my cod be gutted, forgetting that the skipper was a fisherman.  He did the 'fisherman's cut' which is  rather like a t-cut across the throat and down the belly.  Efficient for gutting a food fish, but not great for gyotaku printing.  I didn't tell him what I wanted the fish for, that becomes just too complex and strange a conversation and I'm thought of as even odder then!


So when I printed the poor old cod, there was a gap between the body and head due to the severe cut and even with stuffing the body cavity, the skin still wrinkled, giving a striped appearance to the fish.  I did some prints but wasn't happy with them and left the prints on the 'never never' shelf.  Til now.



I decided if the sea gives you lemons, you make lemonade.   I added watercolour to the piece, starting first with the eye.  The original print is very fossil-like and does have its own appeal.


I continued on with colour, subtle at first, then decided to just play and see what happened.  With mostly quinacridone deep gold and a variety of turquoises and blues I enhanced the wrinkles in the cod, giving it a zebra-like appearance.


The paper that this print is on is a very pale blue Matsuo Kozo, a thin, crisp 14g weight, Japanese paper that is my favourite for printing and for its strength when wet and in accepting watercolour without it bleeding.  Unfortunately, it's $14 a sheet and while I can get two prints from one sheet, its still fairly pricey in my books.

18 comments:

Celeste Bergin said...

wow that is one beautiful fish! The colors are outstanding!

debwardart said...

The gyotaku prints are interesting, and this one certainly is beautiful after the addition of the watercolors. Maybe you are on to something! Duplicate prints, one regular and the other enhanced?? Your story was interesting - I can imagine trying to explain to a fisherman what you are planning to do with the fish!!!

Jeanette said...

Thanks Celeste, its definitely not your average cod.

Deb, there's appeal in both prints, the initial one straight from the fish and the enhanced one.

In the true gyotaku technique, you'd add the add, then leave the print at that. The addition of colour is added by some, I've just gone to the next level with it.

And yes, I don't try explaining to fishermen about what I do with the fish. It becomes way to complex usually. :)

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

The textures and colours are just gorgeous! I like the link of fossils too.. a cyclical tale of impressions.....they are very tactile looking like fossils. You are off to a great start this year!

Billie Crain said...

You not only managed to save this print but elevate it to a gorgeous piece of artwork. Love the title. It 'explains' the gap in the neck. Bravo!

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

the colours really make the fishes textures stand out :) def. looks better coloured

Teresa Mallen said...

A terrific save from something in the never never pile! As Billie said, great title and it does explain the gap for the viewer. Delicious colours!

Jeanette said...

Lisa, there's always a point when I'm well into adding colour when I think ' I should have left it just at the eye.' :) I have a selection of both plain and coloured prints and like both so its always hard to decide.

Billie, thanks. I was a little stunned when he handed me back this fish, wondering how on earth I could print with it in that state. The guy's a fisherman so to him gutting was just that. Quickest and preserving the meat. I'll do the gutting myself in future. :)

Jennifer, I can't resist these colours together and seem to use them a lot in fish prints that I colour. There's something about golds and blues...

Teresa, I've been slowly pulling things from that pile over time and seeing if they can be saved, painted over or put to the bonfire. I think this one is a keeper too. With gyotaku, it always is amazing how it can be transformed with just a little work.

Becky Joy said...

BEAUTIFUL colors. Love seeing the process too.

Hedera said...

An interesting tale Jeanette and a beautiful result.

Best wishes for 2012 :)

Jeanette said...

Glad you enjoyed it Becky. Welcome to my blog.

Happy New Year Denise. There's always a tale where fish are involved. :)

Ross Lynem said...

Your blog is one of the best I've found, visiting often. I had never heard of "Gyotaku" before and find it fascinating, even gong to the supermarket to find some fish! Thanks for sharing so generously your art journey.
Your work is outstanding.

Sue Pownall said...

I think it is very interesting, like the story behind the print. Great choices of colours. Is the muse still away? because you are doing some fabulous work without her!

Jeanette said...

Ross, thanks so much for your kind words I'm glad the blog inspired you to hit the supermarket. My favourite place for props too! :)

Sue, I think all my gyotaku prints have a story behind them. Yeah, the muse is still floating around. I think I may give her the pink slip soon and hire a new one.

Jane Minter said...

fishman's cut was a beautiful print ..it's superb with the watercolour jeanette ..looks like you handled the watercolours beautifully on the paper . ... do you have many prins to work from ?

Jeanette said...

Thank you Jane. This particular paper works very well with watercolour. I don't use really wet washes though, but the paper holds it well without bleeding.

I did perhaps half a dozen prints from this fish and of those maybe 2 or three are good enough to work from. With gyotaku, no two prints are the same and I always do multiples then see which is the best out of them.

Susan said...

Jeanette - I really love this! The enhancementof the color is superb and the cut in the throat is interesting and mysterious for those who are not aware of the story behind it.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Susan, it turned out better than I anticipated. Sometimes you just never know with a print until you jump right in with the colour.