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Fish #36A Round Ray Rajella fyllae ~ Maris van Nijhuis
Acrylic on canvas 60 x 30 cm
The Rajella fyllae is part of the Elasmobranchii family, or rays and sharks. The round ray comes in anything from ash gray to chocolate brown on its rough upper surface, outfitted with large thorns in irregular rows. It has lighter colors on its lower surface and has a maximum length of 60 cm. You can run into this ray in the Northeast Atlantic, from Spitsbergen to southern Norway, southern Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe Islands to Shetlands, the western coasts of the British Isles and Bay of Biscay. It prefers to swim in deep water and feeds on bottom animals. The round ray is harmless to humans and is of no interest for the fishing industry.
I selected this species first of all because I remember that when I was a young child my father was bitten by a sting ray -a different variety than the round ray here actually, which has its habitat in Southeast Asia. This made a big impression on me, as he was stung in his ankle and had a deep wound, which healed very slowly. Later in life, when I was traveling in the Caribbean, I managed to overcome my fear and swam in between large rays during a boat trip off the coast of Belize. For this painting I thought of the deep waters of the North Sea, and couldn't help but think of oil rigs -not the most environmentally friendly companions for fish. I included a young ray, since one of the most noteworthy facts I found about this species is that the young of the round ray tend to follow large objects....such as their parents!
About Maris van Nijhuis: Dutch painter and sculptor, specialized in oil and acrylic paintings. Maris grew up in The Netherlands and has lived and worked on 3 continents for the past 18 years, while traveling to over 50 countries. Maris' works are inspired by nature and an appreciation for the beauty and intricacy of everything around us.
Fish #36B Round Ray Rajella fyllae ~ Matthew Fair
Watercolour and Ink on watercolour paper 30 x 30 cm
The first thing that struck me about the Round Ray was the depth at which it can be found - often around 2km below sea level. As a keen mountain climber, and to make sense of this, I tried to envisage this depth as a height above sea level. What helped me put it into context was the knowledge that the highest mountain in Britain - Ben Nevis - stands at 1,345m above sea level. The Round Ray's depth range works to the fish's advantage, offering it refuge from most fishing pressure. As a result, it is believed that the population of Round Rays is not under threat and is in fact steadily increasing.
The artwork seeks to convey this sense of depth with the dark colours representing the vastness of the ocean, combined with a seemingly distant light source, which of course is vital for the existence of all life. The Round Ray itself is painted in a light wash, depicting a white to light grey Ventral surface, typical of its species. The decision to paint the ray from below was not only driven by the desire to express the depth of the ocean but also the fact that the lightly coloured Ventral surface of the fish might contrast with the dark colours of the surrounding ocean and focus the eye on the subject of the painting.
Other key features of the Round Ray include a short snout, a distinctive rounded disc, and a long tail - typically longer than the body. The distinctive round disc obviously gives the ray its name and it came as somewhat of a surprise that this was such a distinctive feature on a ray, however, most species of ray have a more pointed, angular disc. There are few accessible images of Round Rays, therefore the description of its features have played a big role in the depiction of the fish in the painting.
Matthew is a Northern Irish Architect currently living and working in Edinburgh. He developed a passion for watercolours whilst at Bangor Grammar School, where he achieved an A in A-level Art. Matthew continues to produce small pieces of art for friends and family in his spare time and is influenced primarily by nature, however his love of photography and travel also inspire his artwork. More recently Matthew has experimented with the use of ink, along with layering water and pigment on a dry watercolour base. He is an avid believer of the therapeutic benefits of producing art and often uses it as a form of escapism.
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