Broken shells reinterpreted

New drawing

Several years ago I made a large drawing based on broken shells that had been picked up from beaches all around Australia. The basic shapes of the shells were exaggerated and developed into imagery that was still essentially shells, yet not physically accurate.

This new drawing had its origins in that previous drawing, but with the forms taken further into abstract fantasy forms, with the shapes looking now more jewelled and malleable. The colours I have used were chosen more because they seemed right for the forms, than for any attempt to depict reality. I feel they are more like insects or underwater creatures than shells in their new form.

Drawing from 2015

Both drawings were done in coloured pencil, but the new one was on a base sketch of Liquid Pencil (a paste of graphite that can be applied with a paintbrush) on yupo, a synthetic paper that I am using in most of my drawings at the moment, and then with coloured pencil worked into it.

They are roughly the same size – the new drawing is 42 x 64 cm.

Author: anna warren portfolio

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

8 thoughts

  1. Anna— I love how you have gone back to your drawing and out of that process something new and yet familiar has emerged. I see a whole lot of things dead and alive in your new drawing, probably very few of which you intended. But that’s art for you! I love the colors and the details. Very beautiful.

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    1. Thank you so much Nancy – I love the idea that you can see all sorts of creatures and imagery in these ‘shells’. As with most of these drawings they take on a life of their own. I often read of novelists who say their characters take over and develop their own lives, beyond the control of the writer, and I feel that happens with my drawings.


  2. It is quite something to see two stages of inspiration. Seeing the two drawings together makes for fascinating back-and-forth viewing. I know that even the 2015 drawing is taking shell studies to a new place. But how much further you’ve taken matters in the new drawing.
    I can’t help but see the new drawing in light of Covid-19 (the times we are living in). So these words come to mind when looking at it: threatening, dark, danger, alien, microbes, and Hieronymus Bosch. The individual objects are jewel-like – but wear them at your peril.

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  3. I agree completely about the dark nature of these. They started quite light, but seemed flimsy, so I steadily intensified the colour, which also developed the form and the jewel like quality, which surprised me. Quietly, I love this drawing! Not sure why, it just seems to answer something in me, maybe that dark side, the Covid-era state we are in. I do like the earlier drawing too, maybe because it has a strange quality to it, but it is a different beast from the new one.

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    1. I’m SO glad to see your reply. I was sure I’d overstepped the mark with my comments. While having dinner I was thinking that I can’t seem to see abstraction without wanting to put my own interpretation on it. You know, “This looks like/this reminds me of…” And then I was thinking that what I interpreted here is probably far more a reflection of my OWN state of mind than anything in your composition. (ie being a West Australian who knows everything is going to change on February 5th. It quite puts the wind up one!)
      In any case I see this as an emotionally charged work. I also very much like the 2015 drawing. The two works both stand strong and proud.
      There is something underground about the new work, like forms you might see in mines. “The Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis comes to mind. (There I go again…)

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  4. You know, I think in order to enjoy abstract work we all have to put an interpretation on it. I’m not keen on very literal interpretations but when there are suggestions that lead to other things that, for me, is what I’m trying to achieve. As Nancy said above, she can see a lot of things that are dead or alive in it, which delights me. I don’t necessarily want to know what those things are, just that they are there! And that is why I appreciate your insights. I too can see something underground in these, whether under the ocean or under the earth, in mythical mines … I must read the Narnia series again.


    1. Ooh yes – the Narnia series can be read multiple times. “The Silver Chair” is one of my favourites, probably because of its darkness. The prince trapped underground has a spell on him so that for the portion of every 24 hours when he is sane, he is persuaded to think his sanity is madness. That story stays with me! Terribly dystopian.
      You see – your art always leads to fascinating conversations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Spawning links to literature and new ideas is such an important feature of art I think, taking ideas away from what is in front of you to unexpected places, sparking conversations. The Narnia series has so many underlying ideas it is way beyond just simple childrens books.

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