My marine life squares owe their existence to a very simple question. “Can you do something with boats?”
My good friend, M—-, and her husband are people of the sea. They race spinnakers and spend a good deal of each summer on the water. She was looking for a piece of art to celebrate their son’s second birthday, and hoped to find something that felt special to the family.
Not being a sailor myself, I had no real idea what distinguished a spinnaker from any other kind of boat. Having found good photos to work from, I tried out some designs, two of which you see here.
Then I started thinking about what it was like to live on the water, to be at sea for weeks on end, to spend one’s whole summer afloat, with one’s family, watching dry land drift by, but barely setting foot on it.
That’s when it occurred to me that I needed to include more than just the boats themselves. The piece needed to show scenes as they would be observed from the sailor’s point of view – not as if one were watching someone else sail past. That’s when I thought of my friend’s stories: of how her children spent their summers gazing into the water from whichever marina they’d stopped at; I thought of the lighthouse they’d see as they left Vancouver, full of anticipation, at the start of each trip; I thought of the fish they’d find in rock pools or while snorkelling, and the piles of shells which weighed down the kids’ shorts after each outing.
I spent hours looking through marine biology websites, researching the flora and fauna of our spectacular coastline, making sure that my art remained as true to life as possible. Of course, the work I do is a process of distillation, of pulling out all the extra details, all unnecessary noise, until only the essence of the subject remains.
I focused on the shapes, the colours and the feeling I hoped to convey: of fresh, cool water, bright blue July skies, the way time drifts, bobs and meanders at sea, and the sudden encounters with the astonishing, the immense and the awe-inspiring creatures of our oceans.
Long may they thrive.