School of Bluecheek Butterfly Fish

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School of fish painting


Because this month’s promise is about connections, I wanted to work with a creature that travels in numbers. I searched for “school of fish,” and found this photo.


This seemed like a fairly simple project, but it wasn’t. Painting a yellow subject against a tan-ish background is problematic. I also wanted to show some contouring on the fish. At first, I added some purple, but I didn’t like the result, so I scrapped that image. On the second try, I attempted to solve the first issue by making pen marks and the second by using (orange and green) watercolor markers.


As I was working, I did not know the species name of these fish and I’m glad. If I had seen “bluecheek,” I would have wanted to put blue coloring on the fish. I’ve now looked at several pictures, and I don’t see blue. (I did use a shade of purple to paint the eye spots, which then was mostly covered with ink marks.)

The pan lines are a great metaphor to show us that each little, interconnected, mark plays a part in building the total image. Just so, you and I can do our small part to contribute to the beauty of the world.

I would love to hear what you think about this painting…


Posted on

April 30, 2019


  1. Lee

    Wow, what a beautiful image! You’ve really conveyed a sense of depth in the fish themselves and in the spaces between them. Or perhaps I should say, the spaces connecting them 🙂

    • Kate

      Thank you, Lee. Conveying depth is a challenge for me, so I greatly appreciate the feedback.


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