Page 13: Painting fish, literally

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Artist Marty Wilson has made a name for himself with his brilliant paintings of fish and other wonders found in the Gulf of Mexico. He is now using a centuries old Japanese technique called Gyotaku, or fish printing, to turn actual fish into works of art.

We visited Wilson's Gulfport studio and gallery, ART FX on Pass Road in Gulfport, and found him dabbing color on to a huge painting of a fish.

People bring in an actual fish they caught. Then Wilson says it's time for him to get to work.

"I dry them off, paint them and then roll them on to canvas. Then I detail it and it captures the exact length and girth of the fish," Wilson said.

The finished product is a colorful and precise replica of a fish.

In the 17th century, Japanese artists used black ink. Marty prefers vibrant paint.

"My twist is full color on canvass. That way you get exactly what the fish looked like the moment it came out of the water."

Marty calls this an artful alternative to the old mounted fish on a wall. As you can imagine, for this particular art form, heavy lifting is required; especially when it's a 111 pound Wahoo like Wilson did recently.

"It took four of us to lift it. Once it's painted, we have to flip it over. It's like a wrestling match, and we always win. Then we eat it. That's the beauty, you get your fish mount then eat him."

Wilson has started adding a realistic aquatic environment around the Gyotaku.

The fish pressing has become very popular. The great thing about it is Wilson not only paints, he's an avid fisherman. So he says this is a marriage made in heaven.

"Those are my passions and my passions run deep. I'm a lucky man, I really am a lucky man."

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