Still Life with Fish and Music

Getting ready for painting the still life with fish

Fishmongers sent a newsletter. Fresh catch. While out with Mika the Dog, I went there, intending to paint a still life with fish this morning. In the shop and on the way home, I pondered the title. "A Whiting, a Gurnard, and a Bream..."

Rough collie Mika in the park

Why is a proper creative process such a pain? I successfully avoided this angst for years and years. Unfortunately, this half-hearted attitude has been showing in recent work, and now it is time to roll up my sleeves. Because what is there left for me? All else is done.

I don't dilly-dally as I get home. I set things up for work. Fish on the pan poised; coffee made; music is on; paints squeezed; canvas is on the easel.

I start with a sketch. It isn't good, as to be expected. While drawing, I am thinking about the drawing, listening to the music, and thinking about the music.

Still life with Fish preliminary drawing

"Still Life with Fish and Music" - preliminary drawing in pencil on paper

I found this pianist Roman Rabinovich on Youtube and was blown away by his interpretation of the Goldberg Variations. I shan't pretend that I understand anything in music, but he played so... engagingly. Now, I find his video again and am about to click on it as Youtube suggests a range of other videos, among them some Evgeni Koroliov playing the same piece. Why not? As the music plays, I ponder the difference between the two pianists from my unprofessional and unsophisticated point of view. Rabinovich playing Bach sounds like a conversation between him and the composer, sometimes contemplative and slow, sometimes lively, and occasionally thunderous. Koroliev's version feels like a vigorous exercise. He is alone there, delighting in his dexterity. Again, that's just my take on this, and who am I but a barbarian.

Big brushes! Keep It Bold! Focus on the beauty, not the reality. The beauty is in the touch of the brush to the canvas. It is in colour, which doesn't have to be accurate. In fact, it must be inaccurate. Accurate kills beauty. I alone decide what to bring forth by a bold colour or a distortion of the form. I shout to myself - Be bold! Think about geometry! Think beauty first!

I am thinking about the two players, and I am thinking about my work.  My work is very mediocre, but I know I can be great. I am not great now because I have been avoiding proper work for ages. I must get back to proper work. What else is there left for me? Nothing. All distractions are gone. I won't search for meaningless things to occupy myself. Only work.

I am losing concentration.

I go to the kitchen and eat a nut. Stand on my head. Come back.
It's so dull! The colours are dull. Well, to be fair, the fish itself is dull. Hey, that's not the point! You are an artist. Make it zing.

I put on another piano concert. Someone else I don't know, Thomas Schwang. I like him a lot. He is playing Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Bizarrely, the audience hardly fills a quarter of the hall. That must be demoralising. But he plays well.

You see! He plays for his own purpose, not for the audience, not for the money! You must abolish everything out of your head too. You paint for you.

I paint for me.

Still Life with Fish and Music. Oil on canvas. British painter-printmaker Marina Kim

"Still Life with Fish and Music" - painting in oils on canvas

Still Life with Fish and Music is available to buy online or from Roche Gallery in Rye.
Still Life with Fish and Music - painting in oils on canvas by British artist painter-printmaker Marina Kim

Later that day, a Whiting, a Gurnard and a Bream...

Still life with fish is now a dinner

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