Painting a Lucky Carp – tips and techniques

Rainbow Koi Carp by Claire Seaton

This is my version of a Japanese Koi Carp. A fish which is regarded as lucky in China and Japan as a symbol of abundance. The key to painting this is the bold black first stroke down its back.

  1. With very dry, very black ink and a big brush paint the curved line down the spine. Start at the mouth with a point , bring the brush gradually down onto its belly whilst continuing in a thick line, curving it back towards the tail. With luck and a little judgement you may tail (!) off into flying white.
  2. Paint the line of the belly in the same manner making sure you break the line to finish the line of the underside of the tail.
  3. A similarly thick line should be painted for the mouth.
  4. Add the eye, the fins and the flowing tail in dry black and dark grey.
  5. Than add the scales, try not to be too regular.
  6. Add wet shades of grey and orange to the body in an irregular pattern. Use these same colours for the fins and tail.
  7. Finally paint the water weeds. Add calligraphy and seal.


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