Lionfish are beautiful, and can be deadly! They are one of the most venomous fish in the ocean. For this reason, I had to take great care when working with him. I wore special "poke proof" rubber gloves and made sure to be very careful around the sharp needles that deliver the venom. Although I have worked with other venomous and poisonous creatures, this was the most dangerous to date. I spent an entire day working with him, an unusually long time spent on fish rubbings, but I managed to create 5 fish rubbings of him. This one is my favorite by far!
Lionfish can also be invasive outside of their native waters, like they are here in Florida. I have many friends around the globe and we all agree that your view of wildlife depends on what place it holds in your native environment. I had only seen Lionfish in aquariums before a few years ago. That was when they began showing up in our temperate waters. Since then, Lionfish have become a very destructive force to the natural environment. Because they have no natural predators here, they are increasing in numbers quickly. There has been some effort to curb the numbers, but so far nothing has worked. The Lionfish I used for this painting was an aquarium pet of a friend who passed away.
The paper used for this rubbing is Nepalese Lokta and the color is Seamist. It is a beautiful handmade paper with a wonderful texture and feel. Because I use handmade papers, there will be natural inclusions.
What In the World is Gyotaku? Gyotkau (pronounced GEE-OH-TAH_KOO) literally translated means Fish Rubbing. Here is a basic description of how I do it. I paint directly on the fish (or other sea creature), and then carefully place the paper over him, gently rubbing the length of the fish. When the paper is lifted there is a mirror image of the fish imprinted onto the paper. After the rubbings (paper) dry I add the eyes, backgrounds, sign them using my "chop" (mine is my name in Japanese) and add my signature. I can usually get 4 to 16 rubbings from each fish (depending on the type of fish) and they truly are very different with each rubbing. Once dry, they are mounted on acid free backing OR rolled and kept in a tube. I use handmade papers, usually mulberry or rice paper, but I do like to experiment with other types. Each painting has the type of paper used in the description. I also try to keep my sizes standard to fit most frames, but the size of the fish can determine the size of the paper. Since the papers are shipped to me rolled in a tube or box, shipping a finished Gyotaku this way is perfectly safe. Your Gyotaku can be stored this way until you are ready to have it framed. I ship all of my Gyotaku rolled in shipping tubes, unless otherwise noted.
a real Lionfish, handmade Nepalese Lokta paper, acrylic paints