Male is shown.
(this has the actual flash/iridescence if you want to see the photos that show it!)
Honestly, I had a lot of complicated feelings doing this series of Bettas. It mostly drew my attention to the awfulness of the pet trade, that linebreeding for aggression has produced a lot of beautiful but overly aggressive pet fish that rarely live out their full lifespans in distress, even when they are kept in large tanks. Looking at the original species, instead of the B. splendens line (which, imho, is the pug/bulldog/boston terrier of the fish trade -> overbred, partly destroyed, beauty-over-temperament, aggression-over-soundness), highlighted how few people know these beautiful species exist, and those who do are often exploiting them for the aquarium trade. Many are declining in their original populations, or even Critically Endangered, exposed to population, exploited.
They are known as 'fighting fish' but in the wild many will live together and coexist with enough room to maintain territories. They are paternally nurturing. They are capable of more intimacy than some other species of fish and they are shy and easily intimidated by larger fish (one of the main reasons 'wild-type' Bettas can't actually be housed with some other species is because they are harrassed and then refuse to breed).
Spending time with these beautiful, but misunderstood energies has been a disturbing, enlightening process. These are vastly misunderstood animals, that are in their natural state, not inclined to fight to the death, and prefer to keep to themselves, in their own territory. They are shy, easily intimidated, and prefer dark places. For most people, the Betta that you have been raised to understand, is not the Betta you'll find in nature.
Finding wisdom in the dark. Nurturing. Paternal instincts. Unfussy. Don’t be discerning. Make do with what you have. Murk magic. Exploited beauty. Aggression and powerlessness. Exploitation. Confinement. Small spaces. Adaptation. Integration. Filling every niche. Every place has purpose. Guardian of decomposition and decay. Dark energies. Grounding your emotions. Shyness and intimidation. Needing a place that is only yours. Understanding the necessity of the labyrinth. Flashes of insight. Intimacy. Needing a certain social order. Hierarchy and authority.
Watercolour pencil / pencil / ink / metallic and iridescent acrylic -> Crescent cold-pressed illustration board -> 18.5 x 20.5 cm (or 7.2 x 8 in).