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Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Fisherman and the Koi Fish Woman - by Daniel Grant Newton

Helloooo friend of mine, and friend of creativity and FUN!

Today I'd like to share with you a new drawing I have completed, and the story that inspired it.  

Warning! I have not had any time to edit or refine the story, but I wanted to share it with you anyway, so it might be a little "raw".

First the Story I had leaping from my head...

Once there was a Koi Fish who wanted more than anything to know and explore the world beyond the ripples.  In her youth she had been the pet of a little emperor, living in the palace pond, and the faces that looked down upon her fascinated her.

After a wild storm she had been swept out to sea far from the palace walls, but this fascination with the world of the land dwellers had only grown.

One day this fish swam to a distant coral reef where wishes were said to be granted to those worthy.

There she met a giant jellyfish that shone like a star, so much so that the little fish could not look directly at it.  

The jellyfish saw the dream in the Koi Fish's heart, and said:

"Answer me this question and I will grant you your great desire: which is the greater adventure, the known or the unknown?"

The Koi Fish somersaulted with excitement, and answered, "the unknown of course."

"Koi Fish," said the Jellyfish, "I will give you one cycle of the moon to explore the world above the ripples, and then you will return."

The Koi Fish fell into a restful slumber unlike any fish usually experiences, and woke up to the water lapping against her, lying on the beach.  She was surprised to find she was no longer a fish but in the form of a human woman. 

However, this caused her trouble.  Having never had arms or legs before, she could not move, and even breathing was a strange feeling.

Luckily a fisherman came upon her and brought her to his grandmother's home.  Each day he would visit the beautiful woman that was once a fish, feeding and caring for her, teaching her to walk and move, and even to talk and read.

Together they would explore the land and he would do his best to answer her many questions.  

The fisherman thought the young lady must've fallen overboard and hit her head, because whenever he asked about her past, she told him she could not remember any of it.  And in the end she really did forget her past, and even pondered the validity of the story the fisherman made up to explain her memory loss.

The two grew to love one another, and many cycles of the moon later, the fisherman and the lady confessed this love for each other, and decided to wed.  However, leading up to their wedding, the woman's memory slowly returned until she remembered every last detail of her life before she was human.

The jellyfish's words echoed in her mind all day, and each full moon her skin became more and more scaly.  It was as if with her fish memories her fish body was coming back too.  That is until the sun rose and she could return to her human appearance.  For at this time, the fishy effects were still temporary.

To hide her scales from her fiancé, she would venture out into the woods each new moon.  And each time she did, she would become more and more like a fish woman.

Soon there were sightings of a scaly monster from the deep blue haunting the fisherman's village, and stories were invented to describe how horrid this monster was.  Of course none of these stories were true.  People are afraid of the unknown and fearful people make up terrible stories that become embellished with each retelling.

One example of such a story came from a local trader who said the monster had set a village over the mountains alight, and dragged the bodies into its underwater lair to devour.  That was why, he declared, the wares he had were more valuable, because it was that village that was the main supplier of the items he traded.  This story came from his fear that he would not be able to make ends meet and fulfil his potential as a tradesman.

This fabricated story grew and grew thanks to fearful people until many were saying that there was an army of these fish-like monsters marching across the land and devouring every man, woman and child in sight.  And furthermore, so the stories went, these creatures now had the ability to manipulate the elements: fire, water, earth and air.

Another tall story came from a farmer's wife swore that she heard the monster scratching at their door and moaning it wanted to be let in.  Some skeptical villagers pointed out however that this was likely the farmer who had gone out drinking that very night.

This story however mutated into a story about how the creature had been able to walk through the door as if it were not there, before eating the woman and her children.  And people who never heard the original story were now saying that under this home the creature had made a nest full of one hundred eggs.

The fisherman was not sure what was true and what was not, but he grew afraid for his fiancé's safety, who was known by all to take night walks by the water.  After one night where he could not sleep because the fear had possessed him, he decided to kill the monster.  At the breakfast table the next morning he revealed his plan to his partner.

His fiancé, fearful he may find her in her monstrous form or that she may turn into a fish once and for all, decided in that moment that the next new moon she would attempt to swim to the magical coral reef to see the jellyfish and ask to be made human permanently.

The night finally arrived and she crept through the village and into the water.  Her scales began tightening around her body as they had done before, but as if her body sensed the water, she grew gills and could no longer breath the thick air.

Gasping for breath, she turned to find her fiancé standing behind her, sword poised to strike.  In front of him he saw the scaly monster, but looking into her eyes he saw something he recognised.  He saw his love's eyes, more scared of what he might think than the sword he held.

He lowered his sword and turned his back, confused but coming to realisation.

And with that moment of recognition, she transformed back into a Koi Fish and dove down into the deep ocean, not wanting to look back as she was ashamed of the secret she had kept from him.

To know the ending to this fairytale I conjured in the theatre of my mind, continue to read on, but first...

How that little story landed onto the page...

First I sketched the scene depicting the ultimate dramatic moment of realisation and decision.  The moment the fisherman finds the monster, and realises it is his wife-to-be.

- Then I coloured it in with pencils to highlight what I wanted the eyes to be drawn to and to convey additional meaning through the colour;
- As well as coffee stained the paper to give it an aged look and add to the murky concoction of emotions being stirred in both our protagonists;
- And added in (with photoshop) Japanese characters to give it a storybook/ancient scroll feel.

See below for the before and after shots.

Pre-Coffee and Colour Image of Fisherman and
Koi Fish Woman by Daniel Grant Newton.

Post-Coffee and Colour Image of Fisherman and
Koi Fish Woman by Daniel Grant Newton.

So what happened?

Caption: This is a little bit of photoshop I did after for fun.
It gives a very different feel and darker feel to it.
Something that perhaps reflects where this story is
leading us through.
The fisherman returned to the water's edge every night for five years, hoping to find the fish that got away, but each morning he would return disappointed.  

He then travelled the land for two years, searching far and wide for mystics who could tell him something about his fiancée's whereabouts, or bring her back. 

But these efforts were fruitless.

This left him distraught, and he slowly became the village crazy man, no longer eating or washing himself.  Just sitting on the rocks by the water all day looking out at the ocean.

This made him now the source of rumours and tall tales... tales almost as tall as the fish monster woman and this very one you are reading right now.

Meanwhile, the instant his woman turned back into a koi fish, her memories drifted away in the current.  

Although she was typically happy in the following years, on the times when she yearned to explore the unknown as she had once yearned for before, she would feel empty.  It was as if the fish's heart still kept the memory of her lover and other life while her brain did not.

One day the fisherman looked into the water as it and he sat still.  Instead of searching the deep blue for a little koi fish, this time he saw the water reflecting back at him what he had become: a matted beard that tumbled down a hollow chest.

This picture haunted him, and so he staggered down the rocks and to his little boat - a boat that had not seen use for some time.  He launched the boat off the shore and jumped in.

Some days later the boat ran aground into a coral reef, and due to exhaustion, dehydration and starvation, the fisherman fell into the water and sunk to the bottom.

When he woke up he thought he was dead.  It was very dark on the ocean floor, but above him he could see a bright light approaching him.

The light spoke: "Answer me this question and I will grant you your great desire: which is the greater adventure, the known or the unknown?"

The man could not speak.  And in fact, without air to breath, he should have been dead.  But he wasn't, and his mind could only think of one thing: "My love, the known."

Lights like little fireflies descended upon him, seemingly coming from the light above him.  He shut his eyes, finally feeling a peace that he had not felt since his fiancée had swum away.

When he awoke he was a koi fish, and those eyes he had last seen on that fateful day gazed back.  He was home. 

***If you would like to read more stories like this, or see more art like this, put your email in the subscription bar at the top of this blog, and enjoy!  Hope to see you next article :-) 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

How an art piece comes to be, my "Mother Nature" drawing...

Hey there friend, I thought I'd do it again.

That is, take you behind the metaphorical curtain of my mind's studio, with your invisible laminated backstage pass, and give you a behind the scenes look at my piece with the working title "Mother Nature".

It's a working title because a title that doesn't work is lazy and I'm just not going to continue to support its lavish lifestyle with no responsibility. Everything in my imaginary studio has to work - no exceptions - there are no free rides on the highway to creative expression.

Anyway, back to making sense.

I chose this art piece because it really highlights how the many developments a piece can go through in its gestation period.  

Hmmm... I think I've got pregnancy on the mind, but let's go with it.


Conception is always fun. Well, it should be, or you're not doing it right. And art is no different.

For this piece I really drew from my subconscious, almost automatic drawing. I knew I wanted to draw a figure and do something a little different with it, and then this happened.

So yeah, a lady about to give birth to the Earth.  Ouch.

Does it mean that our mother's are birthing tomorrow's world?  Maybe, subconsciously. 

Is it to do with Mother Nature?  No, despite the working title. 

Is it a huge monster of a lady who has eaten the planet?  No, but very creative thinking reader.

Truth is, part of it was subconscious, and part has my own personal meaning, which if I tell you what that is, then you are less likely to find your own meaning from it.  And where is the fun in that?  I don't know.  Somewhere.

But I wasn't done.

The First Trimester

So now looking at the picture I noticed a fault.  The face wasn't quite right.  

Mainly because I had just started drawing and hadn't lightly sketched it out like one should to ensure the proportions and positioning of eyes, nose, mouth and ears were correct.  

I had just jumped right in with no planning.  I guess the passion of the moment just got the better of me ;-)

Anyway, I wasn't going to abort this living breathing drawing despite its faults.  I mean I think every artist has the right to choose whether to scrunch up that paper and start again, or persist and try to make it work, and this time I thought I would persist.  

Make it work like a working title.  (That doesn't make sense, I know, just read on and forget I wrote it.)

Mind you, I was feeling very lazy, so erasing the entire face and starting again didn't sound appealing.  So I came up with a solution.  Hide the problems in shadow.

Perhaps, I thought with a sneaky smile and a cheeky glint in my eye, shadow like the shadow Earth has on the side facing away from the sun.  Boom!  A good idea just happened like that.  She's not only birthing the planet, she's got the same lighting set up.

I could even put the far side a little blurry and out of focus with smudging.  So that is just what I did, and here it is with a little photoshop contrast increase added in afterward.

Second Trimester

Now it was time to add colour and accentuate the light and shadow in Photoshop.

Now, that could be the final piece there.  

But I thought, maybe...

... just maybe ... 

... a background could make it pop even more.  




Third Trimester

So, painstakingly, I drew a background in Photoshop and managed to fail big time.  

And no matter what I did, it just didn't look as good as the simple version above.

Here is the best of my attempts, but really it detracts from rather than adds to the image.  

The reason being the background fails is that art needs a focal point, and here the background and figure compete for your attention.  

There are too many focal points!!  

Maybe given that knowledge, the shooting star and high saturated palette I chose weren't the wisest of ideas I've ever had.

Giving Birth

However, I soldiered on passed the ugly background phase and was able to give birth to a beautiful picture with a background message that I hope celebrates how wonderful mothers are the world over.  

I mean, not all mothers obviously.  Some mothers suck and should have had to been made to get baby-making licenses before having children.  

But a message that celebrates most mothers, like my mother, my sister, Anabel and all the other wonderful mothers out there and mothers to be, who deserve all the accolades in the world.  

They truly are the most wonderful people on Earth.

Plus having text behind the image seems to make the artwork really pop! :-P

On second thoughts, maybe the one without the background is better.  I don't know.

Yours in art, stories, fun and madness,


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Batman and Wonder Woman romantic drawing by Daniel Grant Newton

Holy romance, Batman!  Last night I finished a sketch I had been working on. A romance between my version of Batman and Wonder Woman. I think it looks pretty fly like ice-cream pie, see below.

Wonder Woman and Batman sketch by Daniel Grant Newton.

Then, just before sharing it with you, I decided to put it into Photoshop to colour it in, used part of a painting I did back in 2014 for the background (painting linked here), and added rain with some good old Photoshop magic.  The Photoshop magic da Vinci and Michelangelo used on their digital images.

And it turned out like this (hope you like it) ...

- Dan

Wonder Woman and Batman drawing with Photoshop magic by Daniel Grant Newton.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Dragons and Batman - My Artwork Exploring Mythology

Recently I was asked to create an art piece to represent the mythology of my cultural background for Harmony Day.  Below is what I created.  Below that is the explanation I gave for the painting.

The myths and legends of days of old were well-known to the people who originated them; retold and expanded upon throughout the ages, teaching wisdom and attempting to explain the big questions, growing and developing with each civilisation, and mirroring a core element of humanity each successive generation could see in themselves and relate to.  

Some of these tales have now receded into the obscure textbooks or been forgotten, while others thrive in further modern retellings like the heroics of Thor, the betrayal of Seth, the cheekiness of Sun Wukong the Monkey King, and the fierceness of the monstrous dragons (as pictured).  

Building on from these epics, a modern-day global mythos is emerging, which like the stories that came before, strike a chord in generation after generation, while being retold to reflect the popular tastes and environmental factors of the time.

Because of the constant retelling across multiple mediums, you can cross the globe and talk to people of all generations, and they can tell you Sherlock Holmes is a detective who lives on Baker Street…  

Or Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are Darth Vader’s children…  

Or Batman’s parents were murdered, leading him to dedicate his life to fighting crime (pictured here in Crime Alley, inside the silhouette of my head).

These are the new myths that in this “global community” have become a shared history.  Stories that connect us all together, and are a lens for us to see and contemplate ourselves through.

... Well, either that, or I just wanted to like paint dragons and Batman because they're cool and stuff!

- Daniel Grant Newton :-)