Sea Life Series-Octopus

My Octopus Teacher

If you haven’t had a chance to see the documentary on Netflix titled “My Octopus Teacher”, please put it on your watch list. The cinematography alone in this film is well worth it. I have included a 2:27 minute YouTube trailer for you:

It’s brilliant, breathtaking and beautiful.

Watching this documentary reminded me of a Book on Watercolor techniques that I had somewhere in my collection. I remembered seeing a chapter on sketching and painting an octopus. Off to my bookshelf I went in search of this book and here it is: (link to Amazon provided at bottom of photo)

I followed the guidelines outlined in this book by painting the background first using the following watercolors: Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, and Phthalo Blue. Using the wet on wet technique, I painted the colors in various patterns around the octopus to show the rocky coral and water. Once I had my colors in place, I went on to use water color blooms and sea salt to create textures. As the watercolor blooms and salt dry, they disburse the pigment which creates a nice textured background. I then turned my attention to painting the octopus once the background was completely dry. Paper used for this creation was Arches 140 lb cold pressed Watercolor Paper, 9 x 12 inches. Many hours later and over the course of a few days, you see the finished painting above.

It was a challenging and fun painting and I would like to try more paintings using sea salt. This was the first time I had been able to achieve any success with the sea salt technique. I hope to do more sea life watercolor in the future.

As for the documentary, I recommend seeing it. It reminded me to take nothing for granted. It reminded me to take time to appreciate the beauty which surrounds all of us.

We live on such a beautiful planet. Enjoy.

Take care my friends,

Helen

8 Comments

  1. Laura Kate – One of six children, I was raised by a busy mom, who instilled in me a love of fabric. Though I learned to sew and knit at a young age, it was the arrival of my first grandchild that pushed me into action. A long-time knitter, I am now ready to explore all things fiber.
    Laura Kate says:

    Your octopus turned out great! I like painting sea life also. Have you tried sea turtles?

      1. THANK you! 🙂

  2. chris ludke – I'm from Ephrata PA. I went to art school at York Academy of Art where I had classical training in the ways of the old masters. I live in Virginia Beach and I like to work in plein air. I find endless inspiration in nature. It's good for your health to draw and paint outside, and I think my skill is improving every year, because representing nature is always a challenge. I go to the same place at the same time of day and work on my painting for 2 or 3 hours. There's no need to rush to finish a painting. I finish them in weeks or months. I'm excited about what I'm working on. I don't use photos for reference. I draw freehand. Sometimes if the weather isn't good to paint outside, I work on figure drawing, collage, folk art or another genre of art. Here's a story from my youth about a teacher that greatly influenced me, but neither Fitzkee or I knew it at the time. The time I put a teacher to the test. Boy was he mad. I was raised to question authority. I'm a rebel against the establishment. I went to YAA mainly because they didn't require SAT scores, because I hated high school and never took the test. I was in the first class at YAA that could elect to major in fine arts. They also taught interior design, commercial art, illustration etc. Basically it was a trade school where you could earn an Associates degree. For every project we had a critique. Our teachers didn't care if they hurt a student's feelings. I was having so much fun at the time, no harsh critique made me upset. Around 1/3 of the students dropped out in the first year, though. Our teachers pushed us hard into drawing and painting in the ways of the old masters. The use of a photo for reference was strictly forbidden, since the old masters could draw without a photo. One project was to paint a still life. I didn't want to do it. I thought a still life would be boring. I was rebelling. I said, "I don't want to paint like an old master, I want to do sculpture." (when I think about those sculptures today, I can see how horrible they really were.) Fitzkee once again said no photos and I asked him why not. He said, "Because I'll know." which seemed like a lame reason to me, and I decided to find out if he would actually know. So I did my still life from a photo and he blasted my painting straight to hell in the critique. There was no point in lying about it, he really did know I cheated. This is some of the things he said. A camera is a tool for a photographer. For you it would be a crutch. A camera has 1 eye, you have 2 eyes. A camera distorts perspective and color. a photo is a little flat thing and if you work from a photo your paintings will come out flat. He said he didn't need a camera and neither do I. He went on and on, this is the basic part of it. He didn't have much hope for me ever being a very good artist. finally I said, "okokok, I won't do it no more!" One time our water color teacher, Faulkler, (not sure about the spelling) took us out to paint in plein air. I enjoyed it so much but didn't try again for another 25 years or so, since my time was tied up with the job, family, exercise etc. After the plein air class I thought I'd enjoy painting like an Impressionist. Who doesn't love the Impressionists? And I asked Fitzkee about painting wet in wet. That's what they called it back then. now it's alla prima (like something I had in an Italian restaurant.) So this is what Fitzkee said about painting wet in wet. We're teaching you how to paint like an old master, why do you want to paint like millions of artists? Fitzkee told me Monet had the same training I was getting. He told me artists like Monet, when they get commercially successful, they sell out the art world. When an artist paints the same thing hundreds of times they develop a formula. He said Monet did the art world a disservice by making it look fast and easy. He told me, "Don't even try." He said my colors would come out muddy. You can't paint detail into wet paint, so Impressionists can't paint detail. After my other experience questioning him, I said ok. I'll stick to painting like an old master. Little did I know that in the future I'd be EXCLUDED from the plein air group in Richmond because I'm not interested in painting like an Impressionist. (or maybe it's just because the group didn't like me personally, you never know in Richmond) Now I find that I like the slow pace of building up layers of glazes. Now when I see the impressionists rushing to finish a painting in one day, I think to myself that it looks like they're on an art treadmill. They worry too much about the changing light. I don't care about the changing light because I can go back tomorrow and for as many weeks or months as it takes me to finish a painting, and the light will be the same at the same time of day. Plein air doesn't mean you have to paint like an Impressionist. It doesn't mean you have to capture a moment. (remember the Kodak moment?) Plein air only means the artist is working outdoors in natural light. ok, I hope you enjoyed my story. Now you can see how I came by my attitude honestly.
    chris ludke says:

    I saw the documentary. Nature is full of wonders and can change your life!

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