I have always been leery of brown. It just seems to be a color that can go so easily, awfully wrong. But I decided it was time to get some brown on my brush and try to get over it. I tentatively experimented with burnt sienna, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Van Dyke red, though — that I could muster up the nerve for. So the limited palette for this fish consisted of Van Dyke red, cadmium red light, azo yellow medium, quinacridone magenta, and violet iron oxide. Plus white and black. I guess you’d call it the cool versions of the warm colors.
This, incidentally, is a puffer fish face. Full frontal fish faces are a peculiar challenge. Fish don’t normally look straight ahead. And it’s endlessly tempting to want to paint noses, or nostrils, onto them. Fish don’t have noses. I used to know someone who painted mouths on owls. You know, beak for a nose, then a mouth with lips underneath it. It was just wrong, but she insisted birds had mouths separate from their beaks. God knows why.