Friday, January 9, 2015

Underwater, There Lies Inspiration

As shared in an earlier post, I renewed by scuba license with my son last summer, in time to go diving off the coast of Monterey, CA. At the surface, sea life was abundant with pods of 50 or more Dolphins cavorting offshore while dining on bait fish, Humpback Whales and Sea Lions swam within 100 yards of the beach in pursuit of the same. Underwater, we experienced a similar bounty of life including a Cormorant swimming past us looking for its next meal, a "fly-by" from a Sea Lion and a variety of bottom life including Metridium, Octopus, nudibranchs and loads of fish and crabs.

While floating peacefully through this amazing forest of kelp that extended above us to the surface, we encountered a Giant Kelpfish suspended motionless upside down trying its best to blend in with the leaves that surrounded it. As we moved closer, it gently swam off, its elongated body undulating in striking yellow waves.

Later that day after my body warmed back up from the chilly 52 degree water, I did a quick watercolor sketch to frame up the event in my mind. The series of sketches and the final painting are a result of that experience.

Many thanks to Scott, my divemaster and the other folks at Aquarius Dive Shop for a great dive experience in Monterey.

At the Bottom of Monterey Bay, 
Watercolor sketch,  5 x 7.  

While flying back on the plane, I did a quick sketch on my iPad to play around with the composition. It was at this point that I decided on the warped perspective, to show the bottom and the surface at the same time. I used the app called Procreate and a Wacom pressure sensitive Bluetooth stylus.


And then when I returned to the studio, refined it further with this oil sketch.
Kelp Forest
oil on panel, 8 x 14"

I then roughed out the painting on a large 24 x 48" birch panel.


Here is the piece as it stands today. I am still adding details to the
bottom and filling out the entire composition.
Kelpfish! - In Progress. Oil on Panel, 36" x 48".

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