The Friendliest Catch

what if the fish wanted to be caught?


The Friendliest Catch 

What if the fish wanted to be caught?


FEB 16, 2024

Last autumn when I met with some friends who know and are rooting for Follower, my yet to be published book about Simon Peter and Jesus and you, they all recommended that everything I post now should have something to do with that book so you can get excited about it and root for it with me. 

You have probably noticed that we’re a month and a half into 2024 and two days into Lent and I still haven’t done that. Which is probably because most of the time when I’m stoked about something in person you can’t even tell, so I definitely don’t know how to be so in writing. And also I haven’t been sure how to start with this excitement-generating stuff. 

But one of them further suggested that even my art posts should have something to do with the book, and my Paul bought me some art courses on Domestika and Udemy for Christmas, so I started thinking how I could make my final project for the first course reflect something about the story of Simon Peter. Which of course starts with Jesus (not a fisherman) schooling a fisherman (Simon) into catching the biggest catch of fish in his life (until the next time).

One of the great things about making art is that it gives you space to contemplate outside of the strict confines of words, which for a word-centric person like myself is kind of important, I feel. And so as I started imagining this picture I would paint in gouache, I started imagining what it was, exactly, that made all those fish that hadn’t been swimming anywhere near Peter’s nets decide to jump in there. And then I thought about the fact that it was their Creator standing there on that boat, and I just started imagining all the fish swarming to get near Him, no matter what it took. 

And this is why my fish are mostly smiling.

The image went through a lot of permutations, and I’m going to walk you through my process (of discovery, really) in words in case anyone’s interested, but if you want, you can just look at the pictures.

You’ve already seen this one. I had just bought the gouache paints and had not even begun to learn how to use them. There’s something about this image that makes it my favorite—maybe because I didn’t know anything and there’s still something kinda great about it. I made the net using masking fluid.
By now I’ve started the course and there are places to post our images. The instructor has suggested we share our sketch-out of what we intend for our final project. I choose a larger pad of paper than for the first picture. I decide not to have the net cover the whole image, but just the sky, as if Peter has tossed it but it hasn’t landed yet, and he and Jesus and the fish and the viewer are all together under it. I really thought it would be funny to keep including Jesus-fish, and I also added an octopus, a seahorse, a lobster, and a couple of starfish just for fun.
I may have told you I don’t like to follow directions. (I have definitely told you that.) I paint the picture before watching the instructions on painting the picture. Since I’ve been told that “gouache is kind of like watercolor and kind of like acrylic” and also that it’s opaque enough to layer (that was even in the videos I’ve already watched!) I just go for it and paint the entire sky and sea before painting anything else. The water gets way too…watery. But on the other hand, it has some kind of cool water effects that I like in hindsight. Also that middle fish is so happy. I just love that guy.
I re-sketch the whole thing. I put slightly less stuff in there to make it slightly easier to manage. The lobster gets the axe but the octopus and the seahorse and the starfish and the Jesus-fish get to stay. By this time I have watched all the painting videos and I understand that it’s really a better idea to paint around my main shapes, and also to intentionally choose a limited and cohesive color palette. I know nothing about color theory so I go to a recommended site for some examples and choose one. I figure out how to mix some colors to get essentially the ones I’m looking for. But I never finish painting this one, because I haven’t plotted out very well where the colors go, and so I’m running out of ways and space to contrast my limited colors, and so I add a random blue, even before I get to the fish. I decide to paint them anyway for practice before the last one which I’ve already sketched out, but I leave Jesus and Peter unpainted. I probably should have practiced on them, too.
The intended color palette
I decide to simplify even further and also that I don’t like how dark all those pictures are with the blue sky and the blue water, and so I make a sunset or sunrise or anyway the sky is reds and yellows now. I re-orient the whole thing because the landscape orientation feels too chaotic to me and like the perspective is off. There are way fewer fish. I try using colored pencil as suggested for some of the smaller details. I love the colors, layout, contrasts, and Peter’s body-language in this one but Jesus’ face is disastrous. 
This version I scanned on my printer and digitally edited slightly on my computer. The colors are almost overbearing, but when I tried to mute them, I didn’t like the effect, so I left them as they are.

Of them all, which one’s your favorite? 

Also, have you ever wondered what kind of “mechanics” go into a miracle? Is it a magical overriding of wills and natural laws? Or is there some sort of volitional cooperation with God of the things being “miracled”? What do you think?