Coign of Vantage
A ‘Coign of Vantage’ is an old military term that refers to a favorable position for observation.
I stumbled across the word, “Coign,” while seeking the correct spelling of the pictured fish (Coi? Koi? Either, as it turns out.) In 1895 Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema used this term for the title of his painting of three Roman women standing on a cliff, looking out over the sea, ostensibly awaiting the return of their men from battle or barter. I was drawn to the word because “Coi” was part of it.
In my painting, the viewer has Coign of Vantage, the advantage of particularly close viewing of these twice captured fish (once in a pond specifically constructed so that they may be easily observed and again in this painting).
I used thicker, more textured paint for this piece than I usually do, partially to draw attention to the “ordered” and more identifiable part of the painting and partially because it felt correct to do so, the fish scales being such an inescapably ordered pattern set in the midst of the abstracted “rectangles” of water and “triangles” of water grasses. A little order; a little chaos… just like life.