This collage was inspired by what Josephine said about searching for a way to incorporate drawing with collage. A number of years ago in February, I gave myself a challenge to draw one fish every day of the month. I didn't have much in the way of art supplies back then--mostly just markers. So I got out my references on fish, drew each fish first with pencil and then with a fine-point black marker, and colored them with Prismacolor markers. It wasn't an ideal way to execute the project, because it's hard to do proper shading with markers, but what the hey...I made 28 drawings of fish, and eventually turned them into a mini-zine.
What you see is a collage made from half of those fish. I have a lot more to say here, so I won't go into details about what all the species are, but I do want to warn you that these fish are not to scale. Some are very big, some are very small, but I drew them all about the same size. If you happen to be wondering what that spotted ray is doing in the lower righthand corner, let me say that rays are fish, too. They're closely related to sharks, so they're sort of like flat sharks.
As for the "Share" part, "Share" to me immediately suggested that I should share something personal, something from my life.
So here goes....
In June of 2009, a dear friend of mine, named Kay, died of cancer. That's a sad thing to relate, of course, but her life was never sad. She was a green-eyed Irish gal with curly red hair and a fun-loving personality. She loved life and lived it to the fullest. She was an artist and crafter with an amazing array of talents, but her favorite thing to do, artistically, was knitting. She was always knitting, and most of her yarn creations were given to a charity for needy children. And she was into fish. She loved fish in kind of a silly, feminine way: she collected mostly goofy-looking fish--stuffed, wooden, plastic, pottery, fabric, whatever. And of course she knitted fish--warm fish hats that she designed herself. Her fish collection was so spectacular that she was invited more than once to design a window at a local public library--a window that displayed part of her fish collection along with a selection of fish-themed books for children.
As it happens, I've long been interested in sharks: I founded a shark mailing list called SHARK-L back in the early years of the Internet--a mailing list for shark enthusiasts of all stripes that luckily attracted quite a few shark experts who were happy to hang out and answer even the simplest of questions posed by the less well-informed lovers of sharks. When the Web came along, in the mid-'90s, I put up a shark website with shark graphics, stories, clip art, and an extensive collection of links to sites with information about sharks.
I didn't mean to go off on a tangent about my shark activities, but simply to explain that my interest in sharks and Kay's interest in all kinds of fish were certainly compatible when I first met her in 1991. And Kay and I had the same sun sign: Pisces. =smile=
In the last two years of her life, Kay lived with my husband and myself. A small part of her fish collection, those she didn't want to put in storage, was in our guest room, the final place that she called her own. Sharing our daily meals and activities as she did, Kay came to have an enormous influence on me, reviving my long-dormant interest in art. I simply couldn't be around such a wildly creative person on a daily basis without having my own creativity come out of hiding and demand to be expressed. I can easily say that I would never have become an artist, were it not for Kay.
When Kay died, it was really hard for me. It was a long time coming, but still, I wasn't ready to lose her. The latter part of 2009 was rough, as I struggled to keep my head up in what felt like a dark time, without Kay's light in my life. Slowly, though, as I pursued the artistic interests that she had sparked--at first just reading a lot about art and checking out art history books from the library--my interest in art became a way to feel close to Kay and to remember her in a positive way. But still, my grief for her was painful.
In January 2010, I started making collages. And I met collage artists who incorporate fish in their work, photographers of fish in the wild, people who make rubber stamps of fish, artists who paint detailed, realistic portraits of a wide variety of colorful fish, and so on. Suddenly, I found myself fascinated with fish as well--not just sharks, which will always remain special to me, but tropical fish, freshwater fish, all kinds of interesting and multifarious fish.
And guess what? My grief over losing Kay transformed into a celebration of fish. Instead of feeling pain every time I remember her, now I think of her daily with pleasure and gratitude. Not only did she stimulate my creativity to emerge, but her ongoing presence in my mind, since she's died, has helped usher into my life the fascinating world of fish.
My fish are for Kay! Hooray!