Inspired by the Sea of Cortez

A couple of weeks ago I returned from an 11 day trip to the Baja Peninsula in Mexico diving the Sea of Cortez off a wonderful liveaboard called the Quino El Guardian. It was magical. It wasn't until I was up well before the sun was up at about 6:00am standing in the dark, squinting without my contact lens but seeing the many dolphins riding the waves below the bow of the boat, that I fully realized how much I had missed traveling. 

Waking up every day and bathing in the beauty of each pink and coral coloured sunrise while staring at the incredible geology of the rugged coast of the Baja peninsula glowing in the growing light was a blessing. 

Watching the sunrise along the coast in the southern Sea of Cortez

If you're like me and are pretty stoic, you've just chugged along during the lockdowns and closures and weirdness of the last almost two years of this pandemic. Being away and discovering a new place was an absolute balm for my soul. I know how incredibly fortunate I am to have been able to enjoy a trip like this because other people have and continue to struggle as the economic impact of the pandemic has wreaked havoc for many lives.

While the pandemic has definitely impacted my art practice - I know I'm still lucky. My biggest issue has been inspiration. A lack of inspiration forced me to keep busy in other ways. I felt like I had lost the momentum of 2019 and early 2020 after my solo show Waterlust. I felt like I was puttering around but wasn't feeling that fire.

The fire is back! I underestimated how much my soul yearns to travel again. The Sea of Cortez above and below the water line brought back the joy of discovery, the joy of sharing space underwater with magnificent creatures large and small and the joy of companionship and camaraderie with my fellow divers experiencing it together with you. This was different from dive trips I had done all summer long locally in our Great Lakes. I felt like I was seeing everything for the first time and rediscovering the ocean again.

The panga waiting patiently for us to surface from our dive
Zipping on the smaller panga from the live aboard to our dive site

As technical divers we are often wearing a TONNE of gear and planning dives to the minute - not on this trip! Single tanks and 3mm wetsuits baby with the goal of just having fun! We all laughed a lot experiencing the Pacific side of Mexico. I have done many trips over the years to the Mayan Riviera and especially diving the caves  south of Cancun. This was completely different from jungle and cenotes. This was salty warm water with a rocky, orange desert-like coastline. Rocks, cactus and ocean. The Baja peninsula is my jam!

So much colour beneath the surface!

I haven't stopped painting and drawing since I got back and I'm excited to share the stories behind each one with you here. If you want a sneak preview of my "Salty" Series check out my work-in-progress on Instagram!

For now, even just recalling my trip makes my heart happy and brings back the wonderful feeling of joy and gratitude. I will never take being able to travel and explore for granted again. The Sea of Cortez has jumpstarted my creativity and sparked a fire again.