A sea shell is the kind of subject that an artist can find perpetually intriguing. Its structure is complex.  The shadings of color are wonderfully subtle.  Its surfaces are textured — smooth pearl,  ridged appendages,  barnacled patches, sea battered edges. If you go for form you sacrifice texture, if texture then form is less prominent.  If you explore the color, other features must give way. But it matters not since there are many sheets of paper, many occasions to pry out other secrets from the shell.  You can turn it this way and that.  Turn it around and it’s entirely changed.

Place it upon surfaces of different colors. View it in different kinds of light. Every artist ought, I think, to have at least one thing that he sets himself the task to learn.  What that thing is — well, that impulse right there teaches something. You learn about yourself just by the choice.  You learn the thing, you learn about yourself. An artist and her objects become companions through life. I have a kindred spirit who was similarly entranced.

I’ve never met the animals that make the conch shells, oceanic sculptors, but I study their artefacts.

One thought on “Enduring passions

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