Take a closer look at sea creatures that avoid the light of day. You might be surprised what’s down there.
Several years ago, on a hiatus in Hawai’i, I discovered how much fun colour pencils are to work with. Until recently, most of my work has been above ground stuff, like flowers, birds and scenery. Then a few months ago I eyeballed a small black blank sketchbook I had, and inspiration struck. Using metallic colour pencils, I began a new series, focusing on the less obvious and lesser known life-forms down deep in the ocean’s abyss and beyond. I’ve been in love with the underwater world since childhood, and feel like I’ve come home. So much to see and draw down there!
Part way through this series, the Gulf of Mexico BP disaster hit and my drawings took on a poignancy they hadn’t had before. The damage done to the ocean and all its life forms has reached critical levels and will take decades to clean up. Finally seeing a way to contribute, I decided to focus most of my drawings on the oceans and all its dazzling, amazing life forms. Not only are they beautiful and fascinating in their own right, they are all a vital part of the food chain of life, which culminates with us, as does the responsibility.
Through inspiration from other artists and musicians, I have committed to tithing, giving part of sales proceeds to the protection and preservation of what nature we have left.
WELCOME TO MY STUDIO!
The gallery below shows both the current series and previous works. It is a work in progress. All are done in colour pencil.
While I have sold originals in the past, I am now offering archival quality giclee prints instead, to enable me to reach a global audience.
Several years ago, on a hiatus in Hawai’i, I discovered how much fun colour pencils are to work with. Until recently, most of my work has been above ground stuff, like flowers, birds and scenery.
This is the time of year when I realize I’m already way behind, but I’m still having a lot of fun making ornaments and decorations. I have over the years created a separate line of decor items made from natural objects, which I call “Shizen Designs”. Shizen means “nature” in Japanese, and can also be read (I didn’t pick up on this until later) “she Zen designs”, which I thought was cool enough to run with.
Shizen Designs highlight the beauty of the ordinary. Each piece is enhanced with gold or silver to draw attention to their uniqueness. Like my drawings, they simply say, “Hey, look at this! Look what we still have!”
While browsing the Net, I stumbled across a book title called “The Deep – The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss” by Claire Nouvian. Found it in the library, and am now completely captivated. It is filled with a dazzling collection of excellent, and no doubt hard-won photographs of some of the most amazing life-forms I’ve ever seen. Each chapter is authored by scientists from around the world who specialize in the ocean and its denizens. Now I’m looking for a used copy to buy; I found more than 2 dozen potential drawing images. Oh joy!
I love the point of contact between the pencil-tip and the paper. Textures are born, lines move, layers brighten colours and contrasts, shapes emerge from the surface and highlight with crisp clarity the unique beauty of the subject, be it a drop of water on a leaf or a pulsating jellyfish deep in the blue. As I draw, my surroundings still and calm, and I sink into the deepest part of me. Each layer takes a long time. There are usually at least 5 layers. It is a very slow process.
Sometimes it feels like there’s a long, fluid-filled tube that extends from my brain down into my very centre…a bead is slowly sinking through the fluid, and when it touches that spot, a glow of utter peace diffuses my whole body. Drawing is the most meditative, healing thing I do. It is my life’s slow, deep inhale, like the ones sea-turtles make when they come up for air, like the most contented sigh ever.
I also love what I draw, and take huge delight in today’s technological ability to ferret out images of some of the most quirky, unusual, amazing life forms, be they aquatic or terrestrial. I’m in constant awe at what is still out there, most of it unknown and unseen by the average human, stuff that is so much more important than we may ever realize, stuff that may well be gone in our lifetime.
Many long years ago when I first atttempted university, I wanted to study marine biology. However, I soon discovered in the lab that I much preferred drawing live frogs than pithing them – this involves holding the live frog in one hand, bending its head forward to expose the brain stem, and driving a needle into their brains and mushing it around. The purpose of this was to show that the frog can still jump, even though its brain is destroyed. This was utterly appalling to me; I smuggled my two frogs home, set them up in a comfortable aquarium with rocks, water and a fern, and fed them earthworms until I finally released them (…and got an incomplete in the course).
Now that I’ve gone back down underwater (albeit only on paper at this time, until I get back to the turquoise waters of Hawai’i), I am combining art and oceans once again. Each drawing has the subject’s scientific name and a little blurb about it – where it lives, why it’s neat, stuff like that. Nothing heavy-duty – just a quick little intro to life forms most of us never see.
Needless to say, these drawings have to be done from photos, so to the photographers who have somehow managed to capture these images to help us learn more about this water-world, huge kudos. You’re all amazing! If you feel I’ve taken unfair advantage of your photos, be comforted in some small measure that part of any sales will go directly back to helping the ocean and its life. Your name will go in the credits.
Two new drawings from a magical world, now in progress, soon to be released:
1) physonect siphonophore Marrus (“Whaaaat??”), an amazing colony of animals related to jellyfish and corals. This one was recently discovered in the black depths of the Arctic ocean as part of the Cencus of Life project to monitor the vitality of the world’s oceans.
2) one of the many kinds of marine diatoms, Pleurosigma angulatum. Diatoms and plankton are at the bottom of the food chain and as such are critical to the health and survival of all species above them. The oil dispersants used recently during the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are now impacting this level of life, to what end we do not yet know, but can perhaps only grimly imagine.
My world encompasses 3 continents and a delightful, unusual mix of artistic and cultural creations – the visual, from exquisite colour pencil drawings, to unique, elegant decor items found in nature and cleverly enhanced – to the audio, original song compositions from a lifetime as a gypsy. The drawings are done slowly and lovingly, and in the process centre me, like a long, deep inhale of fresh air, creating peace. My music is the exhale, the unrestrained joy in the singing, Dragon Ball Z in full glory. These forces mix and mingle, each highlighting the other, constantly growing and changing. My art hangs on walls in each of my countries, my music makes’em all smile, and my languages – English, Norwegian and Japanese – makes cross-cultural communication seamless. Come on in. The water’s great!