Rainbow off the Hook, gyotaku with marbling by artist Rosemary Klein


River Dancers (gyotaku) original water-color by Rosemary Klein.

Q: What is gyotaku painting, you ask?

A: Gyotaku is a traditional form of Japanese art that began in the late 1800’s as a way for fishermen to keep a record of the fish they caught. They would apply sumi ink to one side of a freshly caught fish, then cover the fish with rice paper and rub to create an exact image of the fish. The ink was non-toxic and allowed for the fish to be processed for eating, while preserving records of fish species and sizes.

These utilitarian prints were incredibly life-like. When done properly they retained even subtle patterns and textures of the fish. The relatively simple black ink prints later developed into an art form that added rich colors and environmental details.

This form of nature printing has also become an art form of its own.

Rainbow off the Hook (gyotaku with marbling) original art by Rosemary Klein.

And a note received from the artist.
“I hope we’ll be able to continue this creative journey. In ways I don’t fully understand, you are significantly influencing me as an artist. I hope you can accept how much you mean to the whole community, of whom I’ve only begun to be aware. Being part of your group certainly stimulates my creativity. Should my new work pass muster, I could join you for the September Art Walk if desired. And the November and December First Saturdays remain open for me. If you’d like an extra artist on hand, I’d be happy to join you for either of those Art Walks, hopefully with some new paintings. Hope you’ve been having a good summer, both professionally and personally.” With friendship and gratitude, Rosemary Klein


Rosemary Klein’s COLLECTIVE ENERGY art lecture: 

Before digital imaging, people tended to assume that photography was a form of truth; “what you see is what you get.”  Realist or representational painters have also been thought of as truth-tellers; people usually mean it for a compliment when they tell the realist paint, “Why it’s just like a photograph!” 

As artists—painters, photographers, sculptors or whatever—we soon that many forms of truth will be revealed to us and through us if we allow ourselves to let of the obvious.  Intuition, interpretation and abstraction are our stock in trade.  No one know better than Rembrandt whose “realist” is only the first and perhaps most accessible gateway into the deeper human truths he has to tell. 

Although I’m no Rembrandt, I, too, work in the realm of visionary truths.  Yet, as a former journalist and reference librarian, it’s sometimes hard for me to let of to the literal and venture into the more intuitive dimension of “what if?” 

Two of my paintings currently showing at Fairweather House and Gallery are a study in literal truth turned on its head.  They could hardly be more literal since they involve taking an actual fish—a trout in this case—applying pigment to its body, they pressing the painted fish onto a prepared papers (“prepared “ in that I’ve already painting the background—watercolor in one case, acrylic marbling in the other).  

What you see is what you get—or is it?  You be the judge as you look at it.  (The fish print is a Japanese method called gyotakuAnd yes, in answer to a frequently-asked question, I did thoroughly wash the pigment and eat my model—something even Rembrandt couldn’t do.) 

-Rosemary Klein