Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sea Horse

A genuine seahorse on my blog! ...well, kind of. I sold this picture (I sold this picture!) to a little girl (her father paid for it), which I found extremely flattering, because if a small child likes something, she really likes it.

It's a small picture - maybe twice the size it's posted here - and it started as a simple watercolour doodle, playing with colours. I kept it for a year or so, not knowing what to do with it. I looked at it from every angle and eventually decided that it looked like a sea monster.

The surface was very rough, so my next step was to paint over it with a solution of gum arabic to prevent ink from bleeding. This made things difficult later, though. In retrospect I think gelatine would have been a better option. Then I drew in the "sea horse" with ink. The picture looked too empty.

Next I went all mixed-media and punched holes down the left side, stuck on those reinforcement-sticker things, and threaded them with shiny embroidery thread and beads. It still looked too empty. So then I decided to fill in the background with huge numbers of real sea creatures, past and present. Some of my favourites: the pansy shell, the Glaucus sea slug, the flying fish, and little Hallucigenia (the earlier interpretation, because it's more awesome) near the horse's eye.

All the background creatures were done in pencil, but the gum arabic made the surface so inimical to graphite that the process was more like engraving! It took ages, but the heavily textured end result made it worth it.


  1. It's beautiful! Happy for you that it sold. And even happier for the little girl that got to take it home.

  2. Absolutely beautiful - and that little girl has the most awesome taste. xx

  3. Amazing, amazing! I love this sea horse :D - Lindi