Shell collection drawing

Travel – what is that? It certainly has been a long time since I have been able to travel, whether in Australia or overseas, so I decided to revisit my travel sketchbooks to make a drawing from some of the beach finds that I have gathered over the last few years. I used to collect them, but now I keep them long enough to make a drawing then return them to where I found them.

There are some beaches that are an absolute treasure trove of shells, barnacles, crab claws and pieces of coral, and many of these are in Western Australia, particularly in the northern parts. Several of the ones in this drawing were found on 80 Mile Beach, but others have come from South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania.

I didn’t make a detailed plan for this drawing before I began, all I knew was that I wanted a large shell in the middle as a centrepiece, the others would follow around it. Working from my travel sketches I could match colours and contrast form quite easily. Of course there are still lots more I could have used …

Doing this drawing felt like a reversion in some ways, as recently my drawings have been much more experimental and abstract. This is the comfort food of drawing, very satisfying and not too demanding. I don’t want to move away entirely from working like this, it is honing certain observational and technical skills, but I think I get more from the more challenging work. Two sides of the brain!

This is all done in coloured pencil, Caran d’Ache Luminance on Corona hot pressed paper, 300 gsm and is 50 x 70 cm. Below are detail images.

Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

12 thoughts

  1. Beautiful Anna. Even comfort sketching is part of the bigger picture. It’s not really mindless but does lead to flow and let’s the brain loose while occupied on the surface.

    BTW just got my delivery of Caran d’Ache Luminescence pencils. Planning a new project.

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    1. Leonie, I think you are right. Every aspect of artistic things lead to one another, and the sketches from the natural world form the essence of most things I do, whether abstract or real. So I should regard this as part of the patchwork! Nevertheless, in some ways doing this drawing has crystallised my feeling that the abstract works are where my energies and faith are.

      Enjoy your new pencils! I do love mine.

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  2. Observational work like this might seem ho hum to you compared with your abstract pieces. But I think this kind of work in your case subconsciously feeds into your fantastical pieces. We know they do as those other works of yours are full of organic forms distorted and reformed by your imagination.
    In a way it is like this is your field work.
    Or in another way, this work is sowing seeds. Those seeds will grow in your creative brain and sprout somewhere along the line in a way that you have no idea of yet. Isn’t that an exciting way to look at it?!
    Lovely design as always. I see the figures on the page like a figure 8 with the centre being the large shell.
    (By the way – that mood you were writing to me about is “languishing” – there was an episode of “Life Matters” on RN all about languishing on Thursday 23rd September.)

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    1. I like the idea of this being field work Julie! And it is. As I mentioned to Leonie above, each thing leads to another, which is exactly what you are saying too. This could even be ‘sowing the seeds’ of an abstract work. It IS an exciting thought!

      Languishing is such a good word, it conjures pictures of a Victorian (era, not state) lady lying elegantly on a couch. Perhaps that is what I should do every now and then, recharge batteries.

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      1. We all have internal prejudices – one type of art is more “worthy” than another. (I’m battling one now so I know this to be so.) The first reaction I had to your drawing was “how beautiful”. Before anything else kicked in, that was my response. So I suppose I’m saying this type of work of yours has equal worth to your abstracts – whether you think so or not. And also, we have to pull back from the strong ‘onwards-ness’ of our artistic journey from time to time and take stock. Pause and breathe. Perhaps, for you, this is a pause-and-breathe work.

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        1. I don’t think it’s really a case of ‘worthy’ or not, I’m actually proud of this drawing, and feel it turned out well. Maybe it is just a case of moving on, I find my abstract works more exciting (and more challenging) than works like this, but I get a different, maybe gentler satisfaction from drawings like this. Hopefully there is still room for both!

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