My Process: Making diving inspiration tangible

In my last blog post, I shared some photos of the inspiration I found in Bonaire but I take inspiration from almost all my dives. And in addition to the photo or video, my memories and impressions from those dives are an equally important part of my process in making art.

I thought it would be fun to share some of that inspiration with you and the resulting painting. First I watch my videos to relive the dives and grab some stills from them. Then I'll print up some of the screen grabs I take from the videos and put them on a drawing board that I keep visible as references while I paint. Combined with my recollections from the dives, I paint that memory. Oftentimes, these photos are not a literal translation into paint but there's always something in each photo or video clip that captures my interest and I want to explore further. 

My inspiration photos from the dive(s):  Whether they're feeding, in a frenzy, taking shelter, or just swimming along the reef, seeing schooling fish are so fascinating to watch and remind me of birds in murmuration. When I swim in the middle of them, each fish moves in and out of focus but are mostly a blur of shimmering light and colour. 

Final painting "In the School"

 

My inspiration photos from the dive(s):  The translucent colour of vase and tube sponges are something I never tire of. You really need a light - even in the shallows -  to be able to see the full range of colour of these beautiful living creatures. The fiesta of colour is what I find most interesting when looking at these sponges in the clusters of coral. 

Final painting "Blennies in the Coral"

 

My inspiration photos from the dive(s):  Unlike the reefs which have tonnes of colour, wreck diving can be more monochromatic because of the depths where the wrecks are found.  I don't have lights powerful enough to bring the colour of the wood back at those depths unless I'm very close to them so I find the ambient lighting more interesting - in particular the contrast between the lights and darks and how the wreck will fade into the distance or be hidden in darkness. I end up using my photos are compositional inspiration. The strong angular lines of the floorboards in the wreckage caught my eye as an interesting composition.

my photo inspiration for painting the "Exploring the Deck of the Arabia"My photo inspiration for painting "Exploring the Deck of the Arabia"

Final painting "Exploring the Deck of the Arabia"

 

My inspiration photos from the dive(s):  Caves are mostly in darkness except where we point our powerful lights. I love the drama and mystery of the dark spots but also how the light bounces and catches the colour in the layers of rock all around us. Low ceilings of a cave where a bedding plane allows us to swim through are particularly interesting for me as I imagine the layers and layers of rock above me. 

Bedding plane at Jug Hole caveBedding plane at Jug hole caveBedding plane at Jug Hole Cave

Final painting "Through the Bedding Plane"

Final painting "Through the Bedding Plane" acrylic on canvas

 

These are just a handful of the recent paintings that I produced for my most recent solo show Waterlust.  if you're interested in seeing the caves and wrecks and how they came to be captured in paint sign up for my newsletter and I'll notify you when a new blog post is up or check out my blog regularly as I'm committing to posting once a week.