Robert Conway, New York Member Since October 2012 Artist Statement I started painting koi in March 2002. In August of 2001, my wife and I ‘inherited’ this lovely apartment in downtown Hoboken, NJ. it had a small backyard with a magnificent garden with a koi pond. I had always just loved koi, and one of my goals in life was to have a koi pond, so I was checking that one off my list In the back of my mind. I had always thought about painting koi even before this, but my past attempts at painting other subjects were not very good, so I was thinking maybe I would give painting another shot when I was feeling daring enough.
Trying to recreate this scene in a painting was going to be quite a challenge. I mean first off, my subjects were in constant motion, and second off, trying to recreate these night scenes were just too much for my brain to fathom; so after much thought, I realized that the best way to approach this was to take digital pictures of the koi during the daytime. I used to take hundreds of pictures of the fish in every type of light, cloudy and sunny, morning and evening. Out of every hundred pictures I would shoot, maybe five of them would be good ones. The fish were very shy and I would literally be hiding in the bushes or laying flat on the ground behind a shrub in order to get a good shot at one of my favorites. The neighbors must have thought I was a nut. I didn’t care; I was having fun and I had a new sense of purpose.
I would manipulate these digital pictures in Adobe Photoshop. I would then use these enhanced images as my only reference for a painting. This process made painting for me much easier; I didn’t have to make up stuff, it was all just right there. The luminescent feel of the paintings can be attributed to the fact that I was lousy at fixing the pond filter (sorry pondkeepers!). Nobody left me an instruction book on how to clean it, and I never could get the water looking crystal clear. The 'earthy' particles in the water would partially block the light reflected off the koi, softening any hard edges and giving the images that 'spectral' quality. The absence of hard lines was also very appealing to me. My day job was in digital design, so these paintings were a real departure from creating loud, attention-grabbing graphics all day. As a rule, I don’t paint anything man made in these pictures; that would be too intrusive and it would knock off the gentle balance of nature, just like in real life.
The main intention of this artwork was to give the viewer a place to escape from the mind-numbing hassle fest that everyday life has become, really. These paintings are meant to be a place of refuge from the multitude of distractions we are faced with on a daily basis, a respite for our charred attention spans. They are supposed to promote long uninterrupted thoughts, positive ones, I hope.