Today has been interesting. The fish has been through four versions. The first fairly abstract in the sense that it was the ‘notion’ of a fish rather than anything recognisable, and the second was painted so that it looked like the ‘crocheted’ fish (made by Roger K Newton and known affectionately as ‘Tiny Fish) used as the model in the original maquette studies. Break for lunch and a re-think. The third incarnation… by which time I was getting close to something approaching panic… was a carp. Pretty enough with its eye-catching colour, though it too failed to quite do the trick. Finally I painted what to all intents and purposes is a mackerel, but for the fact that it’s much bigger than any mackerel I’ve seen on a fishmonger’s slab. This now seems to be working for me, though I’ll know better when I see it afresh tomorrow after a good night of sleep. The mackerel’s markings appear to reference the patterns on Raphael’s wings, which telegraphs the ‘miraculous’ nature of the fish and the significance of it later in the story. Meanwhile in the landscape below the steep hill has sprung a conifer forest and through the trees tumbles a waterfall.
I can’t raise the easel any higher as it’s already jammed against the ceiling, and as a consequence I’m having to paint the lower third of the composition on my knees. This is far from comfortable and now everything is aching. Knees, neck, back and shoulders. I’m using one of those padded mats that gardeners have to ease kneeling while weeding, but still it’s a punishing position to be in all day. By the time I’m done my joints crack like an old staircase in the cold. Indeed when I go downstairs I’m not quite sure which pistol shots come from the staircase and which my knees! But the painting moves on, and so the discomforts must be borne.