Earlier this spring I picked up my watercolors and began sketching and painting nudibranchs. Over the last few couple of months I’ve continued painting and finished a number of new nudibranchs. I’ve also ventured into other subjects, some of them featuring in my recent articles, others just for fun. Although I’m not painting nudibranchs as often, I’m still trying to paint several times a week on whatever draws my attention. Below are a few more nudibranchs I’ve painted since the last time I featured them. This time I ventured into highlighting some behavior, including a pair of Glossodoris species mating, and Tyrannodoris leonis eating another of the same species.
Nearly all of my reference photos came from the wonderful book Nudibranchs of the World by Helmut Debelius and Rudie Kuiter.
Watercolors have long felt out of reach for me. I am not a natural artist, but I learned to sketch and draw while doing my landscape degree and dabbled in nature journaling, even going so far as to take a watercolor sketching class. Despite my lack of success with watercolors, I am still drawn to them.
Recently, I began sketching in a journal with a black brush pen and had so much fun using it that I started to sketch nudibranchs. It wasn’t long until the allure of watercolors returned to me as I looked at the nudibranchs I had sketched. Nudis are so colorful it seemed wrong to leave them as simple black and white illustrations, so I dusted off my watercolor set and my partially filled nature journal and set to work.
My first attempt…
I have long wanted to keep a nature journal. Despite spending nearly six years with a drawing pen in my hand at school – with the exception of one class – I never had any proper art instruction. In my landscape design and landscape architecture schools, art was a crash course, something I had to do to communicate design, but not something we had any sort of training in. I was never happy with my skills as an artist and that prevented me from picking up a book and pen and jumping into keeping a nature journal.
When my daughter started preschool I had the opportunity to take a watercolor sketching class once a week for a month. Although it was aimed at botanical sketching, I knew I could carry what I learned to sketching the nature I encountered. Something about the class really clicked for me and I’ve felt a steady improvement in my artwork ever since…