Sunday, May 4, 2008

Shell-shocked in Seavale

Biker gangs in black leather patrol the coast (intertidal zone). 300x250mm. Derwent Coloursoft & Inktense on 170gsm Hahnemuhle cartridge paper. 2008.

After 5 months as a 'Sea Changer' as they would say in Oz, living on the coast gets daily more fascinating. We had seen the last of the whales heading south for Antarctica early in December and I was not expecting to see any until June or July, but this morning three whales were blowing just behind the surf and a big flock of gannets diving like Stukas on fish. Huge schools of Bottlenose Dolphins hunt this coast- like biker gangs in black leather they race up the coast and I suspect they chant 'Kill Fish' as they bound through the water.

Most days we walk the dogs on the beach- Frodo goes fishing in rock pools while Patch investigates the dunes and the strand line. Collecting shells to paint has become an obsession. Not being a serious collector, I am happy with sea worn shells and pick up even slightly damaged shells and then sit for hours trying to identify them. There are many name changes too, so that can be frustrating. Painting water colour 'portraits' of sea shells is intensely relaxing after the sweat and trauma of oil painting. The time between journeys is for emptying out my head onto canvas- finding out what images need to be painted. The shells, however, are a rest- Algoa FM burbling away on the radio and I sit in my studio focussing on a shell and my brain wanders all over the place.

A couple of weeks ago the east wind brought bluebottles to the beach and their associated predator Janthina janthina [violet sea snail] which floats under a bubble raft while munching blubottles. The plough snails have cleaned the beach now. The shells of Janthina are a stunning colour, a deep ultramarine blue.

Even after these few months the variations in types of shells cast up each day is amazing. I hope each time for an Argonaut, but no such luck yet. The variation in limpets is quite incredible. Always more to learn.

An octopus spat at Frodo today when disturbed in a pool!

1 comment:

Lana Gramlich said...

How awesome. You make me miss the Ocean (although I live closer now than I have since 1985.) Interesting story about the octopus!