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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Many Changes

"Every grain of experience is food for the greedy growing soul of the artist."
                                                                                                               ~ Anthony Burgess

One Liberty Place in Center City, Philadelphia

I've been having trouble sleeping lately because my brain won't shut off. I go through my bedtime routine, and when I close my eyes my body wants to sleep, but my mind is merrily chattering away. So many ideas, questions, new things to think about.

I had hinted at some new developments a few posts ago. Well, I'm in the midst of them now. If you didn't recognize the photo of the city building in that post, it was the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. I'm taking classes having my mind blown there. I've gone from someone who always claimed, "I don't paint people" to painting live models, from an artist who has never touched oil paints to one who loves oil paints, from a devotee of natural history subjects to someone who sees a potential painting in everything; animate or inanimate. No wonder I can't sleep!

The early stages of my first painting of a person. It's actually looking reasonably human-like!

I'm also working on building a new portfolio website to replace my woefully outdated one. It's a one step forward and three steps back process, but when I finally get something to work the way I want, the sense of accomplishment is enormous (as is the sense of frustration moments later when something else fails miserably). My portfolio is exclusively natural history-related, however I find myself wondering how that will evolve with all these new influences.

My tireless brain has also been thinking about whether "Inner Artist" really fits me anymore. A lot has changed since I started this blog back in 2006. I regularly teach art classes and workshops now, I sell note cards of my work locally (and am considering the Zazzle or Etsy route in the future) and I'm immersed in artistic development more than ever.  So I'm on the fence about whether to continue with "Inner Artist" or update my blog to reflect the artist I am now.

Lest you think I've suddenly gone completely off nature, I will end this post with a bird photo. Every morning I am delighted by this catbird who serenades me at my father-in-law's place, where we're staying for the summer. I hope to post some photos of ruby-throated hummingbirds for you soon, as we put up a feeder and had hummers within two days.

The next American Idol