Toman and Jump-Frog
SOLD, Commissioned (85cm x 80cm (33" x 32") Acrylic on canvas)
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© Craig Bertram Smith
Though some invasive species of snakehead have been given a bad rap, the indigenous giant snakehead of Malay and Indonesia is highly sought after by sport fisherman. They can grow quite large, reaching in excess of 20kg. To the local population, these striking fish are known as toman and are praised for their aggressive and strong fighting abilities. They are also particularly fiery over breeding season as they parent their young.
In research for this painting, my attention peeked with images of the blood red juvenile fish. The hundreds of babies corral around their parents for protection like a red mist, and their position is often revealed as they collectively come to the surface for a gulp of air. The giant snakehead adults are quite magnificent and display a bold pattern along their cream coloured flanks. During spawning, their backs become emerald green in colour, most noticeable in photographs of fish and angler poses. Contrasted spectacularly with the blood red colour of the giant snakehead juveniles, it gave me a perfect opportunity for a unique play of colour in a painting that would otherwise be quite monotone.
I also decided on a split screen composition as I wanted to encapsulate the entire Malaysian environment for a more complete memory for my client. This allowed me to add in a typical waterside mix of flora against a backdrop of the characteristic hills and peaks.