I’ve made a bunch of drawings and paintings of seashells, and soon I will make more. I started collecting seashells a few years ago, and I have a group of shells now. Each one is a little different from the others and in time I hope to have portrayed the individual differences. For now I just portray the shells broadly.
I like putting them into different settings, among different colors, especially among different patterns. I am always eager to discover what the surrounding colors do to change the mood of a picture.
When I have a sufficient number of seashells to cover an entire wall, I want to have them all framed and hung together as though they were one large work composed of the ensemble. But that project waits in the future. First I have to paint them one by one.
Durer wrote about drawing from memory, enjoining artists to use their memories and imaginations to create images. I can’t remember the whole quote, just the last (as I know it in English — he was German of course) … “drawn from the heart he gives them form.” He saw the great artist as being someone who is “inwardly full of figures.” Durer was himself inwardly FULL to overflowing with figures!
Well, I’m working on it. Not inwardly full quite yet, though I do draw from memory more and more often these days as part of my regular discipline.
But this drawing of seashells was made sur le motif. I have a bunch of seashells on the table. I paint them again and again. I draw them again and again. I love the shells because they are so complex. They offer the artist so many lines, textures, shadows, angles. You can turn the shell and see something totally different. Drawing and redrawing them aids in painting them because I grow better at understanding their forms. Ah, the clever conch who makes these objects doesn’t have to work half so hard at his task!
Another fun thing about a drawing like this is that I don’t do all the drawing in one sitting. It is, instead, my thing that I can pick up and put down. I nibble away at it. Adding a bit more now and again.
I thought this one was complete now, but as I look at it again I see more things to draw such as the large ginger jar on the left which is only barely indicated here — and the foreground of the table offers many possibilities …. So many things remain for delight …
So one’s seashell thoughts stretch out over days and occasions. I find my enchantment again and again.