October 11, 2012 -- Compared to fish at the local seafood market, paintings of live fish at a new Academy of Natural Sciences exhibit may look downright surreal.
From the purple-blue striped swordfish to the black sea bass with rainbow sequin-like skin, these are fish of a different hue.
Connecticut artist and naturalist James Prosek captured his subjects showing their true colors — when they are still alive right after they are pulled from the ocean.
‘‘It’s beautiful when it comes right out of the water,’’ Prosek said of the humble Atlantic cod, a threatened species and one of his painted fish on view.
‘‘Most people never get to see that. The light is reflecting off of it like a mirror, making beautiful dynamic colors ... and there’s an internal fire, a light coming from within,’’ he said.
Fourteen of Prosek’s life-size and highly detailed watercolors make up the exhibit, starting Saturday and ending Jan. 21. They include black sea bass caught off Dartmouth, Mass.; cobia from Cumberland Island, Ga.; sailfish from Stuart, Fla.; swordfish from Nova Scotia; grouper from the Bahamas; and mako shark from Long Island, N.Y.
Prosek first came up with a list of 35 saltwater fish he wanted as his subjects, then traveled from Nova Scotia to Cape Verde with commercial and recreational fishermen, who use traditional hand methods of catching fish, not industrialized techniques that kill all fish in their wake.
‘‘If they’re being taken sustainably, then I don’t have a problem with that,’’ Prosek said.
Back at his Easton, Conn., studio, he paints his subjects on tea-stained paper with the help of photos, notes and his memory. He occasionally sees his own reflection in the eye or the mirror-like skin of the living fish and includes that in his rendering.
Read the full story from the AP at the Boston Globe