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Hello, I'm Nancy Kamenski, today we're going to paint still-life fish. Well, I think we've covered just about everything in the kitchen but fish. So this will be a new experience for you. Incidentally, I've taken the liberty of putting in the background color or standing the canvas, which is with umber and kerosene, giving it a watch, and I've put the line, the grids on, for placing the objects. Because we do have a little bit of involved project today, so I wanted to have a little start. There are more important things I want to talk about. Now, let's put the little bowl in. We have a lovely little jar here. Again, our squares, remember, the general form first. Don't try to delineate your subject or your object unless you have your general shape first. It makes it so much easier.
Now, we cut it this way, and it has an interesting lip effect that way, and that way. And don't forget the rounded bottom, as always, the top, like that. It's peculiar shape, it's French. We've been doing Italian things for a while, though I'd give you a little treat and go to France now. Now, it has a very interesting cork, very wide, naturally. The top is wide, like this. Now, just leave that for the moment. We're going to go to the little jar beside it. Actually, it's not a jar, it's a small bowl, which will contain basil. And that's right beside here, like this. There again, let's do our square. I should do that with you each time, so you'll know, like this. And rounded bottom, rounded top.
Remember, you're looking down into it. Never eye level, practically never. That way. Now, leave that for just a moment. Now, we have here, which is a very unusual thing that we haven't done it before. That's something I usually fight, but I think you must have the experience and do it. We're going to paint a cloth with a fish on it. Not only do you have a fish, but you have a cloth to worry about. But it goes in right now, and we have it in such an angle to give a feeling that's on a table, like this. Cut the corners off, like that. Like this. There. Now, don't try to do anything else to it until we put the fish on it, because the fish will automatically take care of it. In other words, it will look like it's flat, at least we're going to try.
Now, the fish is on an angle like this. There again, let's put a little dot where we want his mouth to come, and this tail should come about here. Now, I don't care what kind of fish you paint, although I think we should keep away from barracudas and sharks and what have you, but we will have a fish. It can be a trout or anything at all. And if I've got the wrong tail on the wrong fish, it doesn't matter. I'm not a fisherman, exactly. I only cook them. There he is. You should have a little personality, though, I think. We've often called people dead fish, but dead fish can have personality. Even if people were called dead fish, don't. If you figure that one out, then you're marvelous. Now, let's have his mouth a little open, because they do like this. And it has a gill like that.
And the eye is very interesting in a fish. I'm just going to put it in very lightly. Now, we can change this a little bit. Let's bring the head up a little. Bring this down this way. For some reason, oh, my fish always looks so surprised. I wonder, and with the expression of, how did this ever happen to me? On tail. Get the tail a little, and that's it. The nice, fat, belly, marvelous fish. All right, let's leave that for the moment. Now, remember, as we've painted, I've told you about putting complete objects, to draw the complete object, even though one is in front of the other. We must be able to see them and draw them that way, if not, we have a distortion. As you can see, we had this.
Now, if you are alone, and when you are alone painting, you can erase this so that you don't become confused like this. I don't do it because I, well, I know what I'm doing, but do this while you're learning. After a while, it doesn't matter. You'll be able to paint right over it and not worry about it. But if it confuses you, take some of the lines out. Now, we have a tomato over here. And we have a lovely lemon here, like that. We have basil. Remember, the general shape first, please don't try to delineate it now. Just leave it alone. Nice, big, fat red one right here, like that. That's a bit of lovely color that we need in there. And we have here half a lemon. And see that I cook two onions. And one, rather like this, with little tassels. And a bit of parsley, which again, just draw the general form.
We will do it in the painting. So don't try to do it now. Chances are you'll change it a little bit anyway. I could be I've gotten them down too far. Now, let's leave that for just a moment. I'm going to make this just a wee bit larger and a little more exciting. There. Now, in this painting, the light is coming from the left. So we're going to shade the right side of our objects. Remember, you pick up a little bit of amber. Don't have your brush dripping or wet. Just do this. So we're going to shade this little jar here, like this. Again, I have these marvelous handmade jars.
And our cloth is very interesting. Also, we have a shadow under the fish. The right side of the onions, the lemon, like that. And that's motto. Now, in doing the leaves, let's just do this where it's dark. And when we paint them, we'll work them out. It has a light tone right here, that way. Fine. We'll just leave that like that. There's a lot of parsley there. Fine. There we are. Now, we are ready to paint. We're going to use a completely dark background, all one color. And over that, we will add a little bit of remediant, or a light red, like this. We will use our, what I call, our criss-crossed stroke.
Because we have many areas, we have a large area, actually, over here. And we do not change the color. So it means you have very little variation in the background. In that case, we will add remediant to give it a little excitement. Just take, pick up your knife. Use a flat of your knife, like this. Be daring. Don't be afraid. As long as you keep telling my students, mothers here, take care of these, these you get through it, you feel all right. There. Watch your little jar. Now, if it looks a little distorted, fine. Go into your basil just a little bit,
so that your leaves will come out over the background, and you don't have any empty spaces without color that you have to fill in, you'll end up with huge leaves, which, again, is another herb or vegetable. Now, try not to beat your areas of paint down. Most students tend to beat their paintings to death. The color is so beaten in that you've lost all the excitement and the strokes and the texture. So try to put it on, don't play with it too much or beat it in, and then keep going. This is a very interesting background for a change. It's completely dark, and it's a perfect foil
for the lovely color in front. The blues and the oranges and what have you. Let's go around this jar. It's going to look very strange here. Now, we have that in. Let's put in vermilion. Now, I'm putting on our vermilion. Don't load your knife up with paint. I don't want drops of vermilion. We run our knives through the paint, pick it up like this. You see it? And this is what we do. Very lightly like that. Like that. You see what that does? Before we get anything else on, it already is doing something. I don't know what yet, but we'll see in just a moment. There we are. Now, let's go to our oil jar. It's burnt orange. So we're going to put the dark tone on the right, as usual.
Always start with the dark tone first. Down and over. That's an interesting stroke. I'll have to clean that up. It looks very, I mean, this is an interesting jar, but that's ridiculous. Just a moment. I'm going to straighten this out. There we are. There. You see, you shouldn't have to jump off the balcony if something goes wrong. Just move your knife around. You've got it. There. Now, let's go to the middle tone. Don't load your knife up with paint. Remember the shape of your object is very important for your strokes. Like that.
And then over. You see, that creates a feeling of roundness. I'm going to outline that in purple. So as we fix the cork. The cork is yellow ochre, like that. And naples yellow. This is right from the palette. We don't mix this. Like that. That's our little highlight. Don't fuss. Remember, we're looking down on it. Now we outline all of that in a little purple. Got to be a lot of purple, but that's okay. And let's go over here. Like this. I'm going to bring this down.
Like that. Fine. Now let's give that for the moment. We're going to go to the little blue pot. So as I give this a little highlight, there we are. Now let's go to our little blue pot, which is a very interesting accent. The cool accent at this point is very interesting. Like that. Be careful now you're painting this behind the cloth. So be very sure of your form. Dark tone on the right side. And the top. Like that. And I think what I would like to do is put the highlights in at the moment. It looks also very nice to see them as you go along.
And let's put our highlights in our little oil jar. Like that. Fine. Now let's go to the cloth. We don't put the greenery in until last. Let's start with the shadow under the fish. Remember, we had the cloth first. Then we put the fish on the cloth. Ordinarily as a beginning, you would start with the fish. Don't. He casts a shadow. We're looking down on him. He's lying on the cloth. Therefore, he has a shadow under him. And that's how you know that he's lying flat. Watch him. I just lost his head. As I said, as long as I don't lose mine. Now let's get this one here.
We're going to take the middle tone of the cloth. Now the stroke changes. It goes from right to left like that. Long sweeping strokes are realized as difficult few at the moment as you're starting to have the long sweeping strokes, but you will do it eventually. But do it right from the beginning. Now let's take this lovely light tone. If you paint out the lemon, don't worry about it. There. It has a bit of a fold. Put it on like that. Put a little middle tone around the tail there like this.
Drag it to him to the fish like that. Get rid of the lemon like that. I did get that a bit low, but what I really want to show you is technique. When you do it, you will get it much, much higher. Now the corners of this, which I had forgotten to do when I did the background, are dark the same as the background like that. And I want you to put those in. I do not want the cloth to cover the whole canvas. I want to get the feeling of it lying this way.
Now let's do our friend line there with this glassy eye. We put the dark tone of the fish first across the top in that kind of stroke this way. Remember we work in light, medium and dark. I know I'm going to end up with a whale. Either it gets bigger or I keep cutting at it and ends up looking like a sardine. The middle tone underneath, like this. And that stroke goes this way, which tells us that the fish is round, like that. Let's get the tail in there.
I wonder if you look surprised, surprised I can do it. There, now we will outline the beak I'm painting a bird. We will outline the mouth in just a moment. The light tone of the fish is in the middle, like this. Now forget the tail. We will outline that to correct the form and delineate it. Right now it's a little fuzzy, it looks very strange. I want to put a lovely highlight down the middle of that to give the feeling of an iridescence which fish do have. Not too smooth, because after all they are scaly.
Let's go to the face or the front of the fish, the mouth and what have you. Like that. And bring it around like this. With the light and medium tones like that. We did paint a fish in class one time. And one of the men who was fishing brought a huge fish in and left it right near my palate. And the heat of the room for about three hours, and believe me I was so ill I could hardly paint. And that took me off the fish for quite a while. Now let's put his little face in or mouth like this. It's a very distinctive feeling in the face.
It has a very distinctive eye, that eye always gives me qualms. I knew it. I'm going down and over. So certain expression he has that absolutely worries me. Let's put a few dark tones over the back of him like that. And a few on the tail underneath. I would like to put a little highlight right there on the lower part of his mouth.
And I believe he has a little pink like that. I'm trying to get him. I want to look intelligent. There. Now we'll go to tomato. Dark tone. Middle tone. The light tone. These are right from the palate and require no mixing. Let's put our little top on it because we won't get around to it possibly, so I want to put that on right away like that.
Now let's put our lemon that we've gotten rid of accidentally right here. Yellow ochre in back of the lemon. And a lovely yellow light yellow tone in front. And a little highlight on the lemon like that. And we have another lemon below, a cut lemon. And so we'll put ochre at the bottom like this. Naples yellow inside because it's a peculiar color like this. And a bit of tone here like that. Let's go to the onions. Dark tone on the right. These are what is known as tones of beige. Those in there like that.
Let's put a little purple. And there's one thing that's very important. We must put shadows under onions. Remember that these objects are casting shadows on the napkin. Now let's put in our parsley. We start with the dark tone. And this we pat on like this. Parsley is lots of little things that we don't draw in. Outline not your onions so you don't lose them. A light tone in a foreground like this. This is a gourmet dish we're cooking by golly. Parsley and basil. We use a lot of basil when we cook.
It's delicious, marvelous. Alrighty, let's go to our basil leaves. Oops, we need a little highlight on the onions. I want to put the basil leaves in. And this is the way we're going to do those. Like that. Just an impression, the way we did celery in one of our other paintings you see. The light tone is right here because it's getting the light from the left. Let's put a little purple in there on the other side like this. And outline it that way. In case anyone asks you, it is basil. I like to put a couple of light tones here like this one. So you get the feeling that there are leaves sticking up. And some of them are catching the light even behind there.
There it is. That's our painting for today. Now for our signature. Goodbye for now. Thank you very much. This program was made possible by a grant from Commercial Union Assurance Companies.
Thank you very much.
Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky
Episode Number
Still life with fish
Producing Organization
Connecticut Public Television
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
Nancy Kominsky teaches viewers how to paint a still life with fish.
Created Date
Asset type
Fine Arts
Media type
Moving Image
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Host: Kominsky, Nancy
Producing Organization: Connecticut Public Television
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: cpb-aacip-90b1b5cb58d (Filename)
Format: 2 inch videotape
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Chicago: “Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 117; Still life with fish,” 1976, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 117; Still life with fish.” 1976. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
APA: Paint Along With Nancy Kominsky; 117; Still life with fish. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from