Tuesday, June 24, 2014


"I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
                                                                                                                       ~ Sir Isaac Newton

Just a few specimens from my father-in-law's collection

My father-in-law was an avid scuba diver and underwater photographer for over 30 years and traveled to many different locations to dive. When he wasn't diving, he would walk the beaches looking for interesting shells. Over the years he built up quite an impressive seashell collection. I'm finding his collection quite inspirational.

I've been doing a little research about other artists who were inspired by shells. Probably the most well-known painter of shells was Georgia O'Keefe who created a number of beautiful shell paintings along with her more famous flower paintings. Not so well-known, the Dutch artist Adriaen Coorte painted intimate still lifes featuring seashells back in the late 1600's. I find these still lifes intriguing in their simplicity and beauty, unlike Balthasar van der Ast, another Dutch painter from around the same era whose still lifes are overflowing with not only shells, but also flowers, fruit, and insects. Sometime during the early 1900's British artist Glyn Warren Philpot who was best known as a portrait artist, used a limited palette to paint a lovely still life of shells, perhaps as a break from painting faces. I'm certainly finding shells a pleasant subject to draw and paint.

Study of Babylonia species in graphite.

Detail from shell painting. Acrylic on canvas board.

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