Chinese and Japanese Koi Art
Some of the most recognizable Chinese and Japanese Art is that of the carp or koi fish. They were originally bred by Chinese rice farmers in pools in their fields for food during the winter months. As they were bred, the farmers noticed the scale patterns and color varieties that were happening and decided to keep the most beautiful as pets. Today they are bred and sold as pets all over the world. Cared for properly a koi fish can live between 50 and 70 years!
The carp/ koi is a symbol of perseverance, strength and endurance.
One of the most popular carp or koi myths is that of the Dragon's Gate. The legend goes that many carp try to swim up the yellow river and those that make it to the top of the giant legendary mountain are rewarded by turning into dragons.
To this day there exists a saying in China: "lǐ yú tiào lóng mén" ("鲤鱼跳龙门"), or "The carp has leaped through the dragon's gate." This saying is often used for students who pass their university exams, or people in general who work hard at a task and succeed beyond their wildest expectations.
Traditionally this artwork is done on paper or silk with ink or watercolor, but today they are done in all mediums, from acrylic paint, to tattoos to vector art on the computer!
Assignment # 1
- Find an image of a koi fish online that you are going to use as your reference image. Paste that photo into the google doc.
- Summarize the legend of the koi fish from the video in 3-5 sentences.
- What is this legend an allegory for in real life? (An allegory is a story with characters and events that stand for ideas about life. Most of the time, there is a moral of the story, or a life lesson for the reader to learn.)
- What can we learn from this story?
- Why would an artist want to create koi fish artwork/images?
Assignment # 2:
You are to create your own vector illustration of a koi fish in a traditional style, using Adobe Illustrator for the drawing and the finishing touches (background) done in Adobe Photoshop.
1. Your koi must be drawn using the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator. I will be looking for appropriate curves and bends in your drawings.
2. Your koi must have a sense of movement. It must look like it is swimming in the water through its body posture.
3. Your koi must utilize gradients to show value and form. (Areas of lights and darks)
4. Your koi must have details done using the pen tool or pencil tools.
5. It must have a textured background, an additional element (bamboo, water splashes, lotus flower etc) and a signature "stamp" done in Adobe Photoshop.
Assignment # 3: Reflection Questions
When you are done with your project, and it is in your google portfolio for grading, answer the following questions in the comment section underneath your slide:
If you complete the koi illustration ahead of time, please complete the project below! Extra credit points.