Artwork feature: I want to speak to the manager

‘I want to speak to the manager’ Thankfully I’ve never received this verbal slap in the face in any of my past employment. 

Although a delivery driver once bellowed down the phone at me to express outrage at driving up a newly built one-way street, something I had somehow surreptitiously caused just by sitting at my desk. I kindly pointed out that Google had been showing new streets correctly for some time, but he seemed more angered by my telepathic failure to personally update his vehicle’s in-built navigational device that sent him the wrong way. Well, what an absent-minded flibbertigibbet I am!

To this day, I’m not sure what one-way streets and other people’s expired sat-navs had to do with my job of updating project plans and spreadsheets, but I guess therein lies the exhilaration of answering someone else’s phone! (Pro office tip: under absolutely NO circumstances do you answer someone else’s phone. E.V.E.R.)

I sometimes wonder if that delivery driver is doing ok. Is he still following his outdated GPS, or did he go back to basics and learn to follow road signs? 


We all have a stonefish living among us, maybe it’s you…

Like many of us, I’ve worked in jobs where everything is your fault, even if nothing about the problem pertains to you or your job description. There’s inevitably a bottom-dweller with a face like this, storming up demanding attention. Maybe you’re thinking of someone who fits the bill perfectly…

‘I want to speak to the manager’ - by Candace Slager

Yes this disgruntled stonefish blends into his surroundings, waiting for an opportunity to express his dismay at the world around and the unsatisfactory service he receives! Once he’s nabbed his prey, the only known cure is to nod comprehendingly and hope he goes on his merry way without causing paralysis.

He’ll be behind you at the checkout complaining he should be served first, he’ll be in the bank bemoaning the need to fill in the forms, he’ll be on the phone telling the power company how things ran “back in my day”.


Being non-confrontational I would never dream of saying ”I want to speak to the manager”, but I’ve probably come close to looking disgruntled in line at the supermarket. But who hasn’t? Usually it’s because a bleary-eyed teen has scanned my carrots through as overpriced exotic mangoes. I once had a sprightly young lad lift up a cucumber and ask, “Do you know what I scan this as?” Sigh. Needless to say, when self-service became a thing I never spoke to a human again. 


The reference photo was taken from a safe distance at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. 

Original photo, taken behind the safety of glass

In case you weren’t sure, this is a stonefish. I guess not all animals can be cute, fluffy and hog the bed. Stonefish are the most venomous fish in the world, and as with most deadly creatures they of course happily make their home around sunny old Australia. 

Drawing this guy was a challenge to say the least. Mostly because the photo was dark, and the details not clearly defined. My last attempt at a challenge of this complexity were the countless scales on my chameleon. This time, instead of scales I was dealing with the bumps, nodules and rocky growths that give stonefish their name. 

To start the drawing, I used the ‘grisaille’ method (pronounced griz-eye). This is a very old method painters use to create an ‘underpainting’ or base layer upon which other colours get layered. It’s a bit like underwear before pants. No underwear can work, but sometimes you just need the security of knowing your details are in place.  

I used a burnt umber brown pencil to lay down the initial detail and monotone shading. 

Other neutral colours used were nougat (yum), dark sepia, burnt siena, van-dyck brown, raw umber, walnut brown, caput mortuum and caput mortuum violet. 

As an aside, for those interested, caput mortuum, also known as ‘mummy brown’, was made from crushed up dead people. Yep, mummies. Being that mummies are a little harder to come by these days, I suspect this colour is now synthetic…or is it? 

I felt it couldn’t be all doom and gloom though, so I softened him by layering over lovely purples and blues. The violet, mauve, delft blue and touch of indanthrene, provide a glimmer of hope that things might just get better!

Like lumpy underwear beneath clingy pants, you can see the hint of brown from the under painting peeking through the purple.

This complex piece was completed over several weeks and required a number of layers. I’ve included a time-lapse of the drawing progress. I went a little ‘Spielberg’ with the cinematic music on this one, but I felt it added an air of deep sea despair to the whole thing. Rather fitting for a disgruntled stonefish wouldn’t you say. 

For some reason I don’t feel like going swimming, and suddenly socks and Crocs footwear don’t seem like such a fashion faux-pas.

You can view this disgruntled stonefish over in my shop. Be warned, he’ll be complaining over there too!

x Candy

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