Original Art

Thanks for checking out my original paintings!

Here are the most recent, featured in my solo show "Waterlust". Enjoy! If you have any questions about commissions, purchasing details or reproductions about the work below, please email me at grace@gracemarquezstudio.com.

Cave Paintings

 

 Wreck Paintings

I love wreck diving. Because I live so close to Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River, it's what we dive most often here. We are surrounded by freshwater and wrecks abound in the Great Lakes and the mighty St. Larwrence River.



Two divers barely visible but carrying their underwater torches as they swim next to a ship resting on her starboard side
"On Her Starboard"
Medium: Acrylic Paint  on Canvas, 24"x30".
While I usually dive with my buddies as a team, I do enjoy hanging back during a dive so that I can take in the whole scene. Divers give a sense of scale next to the wrecks. I can dive a wreck over and over again and each time she will reveal something new. Whether it's her details, covered in zebra mussels, something in her structure or something about where she's come to rest. You just need to be fully present (and a little helium in your breathing gas doesn't hurt) to see what's new or what's different. Diving makes you appreciate being in the moment; learning and always growing in the moment.
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"Exploring the Deck of the Arabia"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 24"x30".
The popular wreck of the Arabia barque is one of those hallmark dives for divers new to the Tobermory wrecks. I describe her to OW students as the pirate shipwreck of your imagination (minus the pirates). Located in Fathom Five Marine Park, it's a beautiful wreck where, the longer you look, the more lovely details you see in the structure. There are deadeyes still in place on the railings, a giant windlass, two anchors tied to the bow, her wheel that sits upright in the silt on the starboard side, masts laying on her deck and her the centre board. The more I dive these wrecks, the more I learn about ships. I want to know and understand the what, why and how of these wrecks.


"Turning the Dive"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
We do a lot of diving in the St. Lawrence river in Brockville and Rockport and also venture on the American side to dive their wrecks including the Keystorm wreck. The Keystorm was a steel freighter on her way from Ohio to Montreal loaded with coal. She struck a shoal in the fog near Alexandria Bay N.Y. and she sank stern first, rolled and came to rest on her starboard side in 115 feet of freshwater at the props. 
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"Remnants of Conflict"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 18"x24".
The wreck of the Fujikawa Maru was the first wreck I dove in Truk Lagoon and what was most memorable about it were the Zero planes located inside the second cargo hold. Zero planes were the infamous "kamikaze" planes flown by the Japanese in the battles of the Pacific during WW2. They were fast, maneuverable and could travel far distances. When one was captured by the Allied forces intact, it was sent to the US for study and newer planes were built to outclass them. Laden with weapons, they were intentionally flown into their Allied targets and destroyed on impact to destructive effect. Diving has taught me so much history! 
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"Pink anchor on the S.S. Saganaga"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
When I think of the Bell Island wrecks, I think of the pink anchor on the deck of the S.S. Saganaga, still attached to its heavy chain. On September 1942 German U-boats crept into Conception Bay Newfoundland and launched torpedos at the Saganaga. She broke in half and the force of the explosion was so strong that her anchor was launched into the air. It came to rest - chain and all - where it lies today. The anchor is covered in a pink coral and the jovial colour is in such contrast to the strong, functional lines of the anchor itself. Nature has such a way of putting her stamp on all of our manmade objects. 
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"From the Stern of the Forest City"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
The Forest City wreck is where I did my first "deep dive" during my Advanced training in Tobermory. Where the boilers are located is at about 80 feet and that was always my landmark for my depth without looking at my depth gauge. When I started doing decompression dives, I remember the railing at the stern was another landmark of depth knowing that I was at about 140 feet. When I look at these wrecks they're not just an object with historical significance but also a record of my progression in diving. On this dive, I swam off the stern past the railing and looked back with my goPro in hand. Everything was beautifully crisp and my dive buddies were perfectly placed with their lights. I love creating these memories to remind me of how far I've come.
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"
Flying Above the Niagara II"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
Have you ever floated weightlessly and experienced the world in 360 degrees? It's one of the things that still fills me with wonder to be able to experience the world like that while diving. That feeling of weightlessness is so in contrast to the physical presence of the wreck of the Niagara II. We can fly around it like it's our playground and that's exactly what the Niagara II is - a playground. This painting is based on a photo I took of a pair of newly minted Advanced divers swimming past the wheelhouse. The sight of divers "floating" past the wheelhouse never loses that surreal effect for me.
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"Misty Morning"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
The S.S. Rose Castle was another of the four Bell Island wrecks I've had the privilege to dive. The Rose Castle is the deepest of the wrecks and the coldest. She sits upright and proud on the ocean floor. Much of her rigging is still as it was before she went down, hanging from masts, ready to work but now they're covered in a garden of anemone and soft corals. Mother Nature has reclaimed her and has given her a hauntingly beautiful appearance. 
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Cave Paintings

I started cave diving in 2012 and it gave me a whole new appreciation for geology and rocks - which I've always been interested in. The caves are a magical place where I can marvel at what Mother Nature and time have created over eons.  



"Ice Tunnel"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
After a short 20 minute walk from where the drivable road ends, past small butterflies in the shade of the trees, past fields of grazing cows, you climb carefully through a barbed wire fence and walk down to the large basin and opening of El Toro Cave in the Dominican Republic. In this section of the cave, the bright white rock is so soft, the percolation from exhaled bubbles causes a snow-like effect and where the tiny pieces of rock come to rest, give the appearance of snow banks with tints of blue and green. It's magical. 
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"
Cenote Cathedral"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
The light in a cavern zone is absolutely mesmerizing - especially when you're exiting from the darkness of the cave. The beams of light from the sun rippling in the water is one of those Mother Nature things that just makes you happy and grateful to be alive and experiencing such wonders. Some caves have big basins with wide open caverns like this one where you can explore in the light zone. Even within the light zone there can be some beautiful natural decorations of stalactites and stalagmites. 
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"Into Orange Grove"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
This place is where I was first introduced to cave diving. This is a familiar view looking up as you exit Orange Grove. There's always a bit of melancholy feeling leaving this world behind to resurface. It's both reassuring and a bit sad. I often sit and just stare up at the world above me when I'm on deco; the world I have to return to. That exit point of the cave is like a portal and I have to transition back to the real world. 
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"Descending into Jackson Blue"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 24"x30"
One of the things I love about cave diving is observing how the rocks were shaped. The flow of water is evident in how it has created the patterns and formations in the rock. Some of the passages resemble female anatomy. I've heard other cave divers refer to it as returning to the the veins of Mother Nature or the life blood of the planet. I see it as yet another instance of how connected we all are on this planet. 


"Through the Bedding Plane"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
When the earth was forming, layers of sediment and rock were deposited by the earth's movements and water flows. It was packed on top of each other and hardened. Another layer of sediment and rock would then be deposited over time and harden on top. These successive layers continued and is evident when you see different bands of colour on rock walls. The layer that separates two successive layers of compressed rock is the bedding plane. Now imagine being able to swim through one of those layers where the rock has dissolved and eventually washed away by the water. In cave diving, we have the ability to swim through. In some bedding planes, the ceilings can be quite low and we have to crawl our way through. It may sound strange but for cave divers, this is fun!
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Two divers descending into a cave
"Divers Underfoot"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 18"x24".
I LOVE rocks. When I started cave diving in 2013 it took my love of rocks to a whole other level since I am literally inside rocks while cave diving. It's absolutely magical seeing how Mother Nature has shaped the earth with water and with the elements. Cave diving has opened up a whole new level of curiosity and adventure for me. This painting shows two divers about to enter a cave with lights in hand.
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"The Peanut Line"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 24"x30".
This section of the cave at Peacock Springs is close to the entrance and is a long narrow and low ceiling passage where the rock is a bright sandy colour and where I love to shine my light on the ceiling to catch the ripples mirrored in the water pockets above. Why do I paint underwater caves? Because only a small number of people actually know these beautiful places exist. If they know more about such places my hope is that they'll ask more questions about them and as they know more about them, will want to preserve and protect them.  
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"Hello Halocline"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
One of the most interesting experiences underwater is swimming through a halo cline. It's when freshwater meets saltwater that's seeped through the rock from the ocean. The denser and heavier saline saltwater settles to the bottom while the freshwater sits on top. When you swim through it in the brackish zone where they mix, it distorts the visibility. It's a really beautiful albeit trippy sight from Mother Nature.
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"Stone Curtain at Taina"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 11"x14".
Some of my earliest cave dives post certification and without my regular dive buddies was in the Dominican Republic.  It was there that I met some wonderful people including my cave sister Vika. The Taina cave is located on a beautifully gated private property in Santo Domingo. It was the first time I really saw what a wonderful life it would be to have such a beautiful "hole" in your backyard. This painting captures what it was like for me approaching another room beyond a curtain of fine stone pillars from floor to ceiling. I could see my dive guide's light illuminating hints of the next room beyond the stone curtain.
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"The Next Turn"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on wood board, 24"x36".
I love the comforting darkness of a cave. It feels like an embrace. And our lights make us look like fireflies in the dark. There's always a feeling of discovery and wonder when you dive a new place - especially a cave. 

 

This painting is based on my memory of one of my earliest cave dives and may look like something out of a fantasy sci-fi novel but beautiful and strange places like this DO exist underwater - right beneath the places we work, or drive or walk or hike or eat or sleep! Some are vast and large rooms and the darkness beckons you to keep swimming to see what's just past the next turn.

 

I certainly never imagined I would end up diving in a cave when I first started diving. I thought diving was just about diving with Nemo ;) 
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Reef Paintings

While I don't often get a chance to dive in warm ocean water, I do enjoy the marine life and the beautiful garden-like appearance of coral and sponges that comes with (healthy) reef diving. 



"Blennies in the Coral"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 12"x12".
Blennies are tiny fish that are typically bottom dwellers so chances are very good you'll see plenty if you get right down and hover down close to the reef.  They're territorial and will find their home in a rock or coral head where they'll eat, sleep and hide. When they're in large numbers it's like light has come alive. Their small, elongated bodies reflect the light in beautiful repeating patterns as they move together. They're something I enjoy watching at the end of a dive as they'll typically in more shallow water. A surprising fact about them is that they make up more than 50% of the fish food source on the reef. It shows how even the smallest of life can play huge role in the ecosystem.
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"Fan Coral"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 12"x12".
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"Blennies in the Coral"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 12"x12".
Blennies and gobies are reef fish and though they're tiny, make up for up to 70% of the fish flesh eaten on the reefs.  They replenish the reef by reproducing and maturing quickly so while they're small, their impact is mighty!
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"Reef Renewed"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 12"x12".
One of the things that I think is important not just underwater but with all living species is diversity. A diverse marine population makes for healthier species all the way down the food chain. When invasive species such as lionfish overtake a reef, the food chain is impacted and in turn we're also impacted further down the food chain.  This was inspired by the healthy reef I was able to dive in Bonaire. Their efforts at reef restoration is evident with the healthy diversity I could see even to my untrained eye on each dive. Every coral head was packed with life. If only we would take a lesson from how nature architects everything to be balanced. 
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"Anemone Bouquet"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 12"x12".
In 2009, on a trip to the Philippines, I remember doing my DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) in beautiful Palawan. We were only in 20 feet of water but I remember noting how clear the water was - like being in a pool and sandy bottom with coral heads marking the bottom. I remember getting closer to one coral head and it was covered in anemone. I had only ever seen one in "Finding Nemo" and I was blown away by a) how accurately those Disney artists portrayed the marine life and b) there were clownfish just like Nemo in the anemone!! Since then I've loved drawing and painting the anemone and its many arms. 
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"In the School"
Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas, 12"x12".
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"Sponge Cluster"
Medium: Acrylic Paint  on Canvas, 11"x14".
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