Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year - New Challenge

Wish me luck!!  :-)

I usually get to my studio about 3-4 days a week....but inspired by Leslie Saeta and her challenge
30 painting in 30 days 
I'm joining Leslie and at least 115 other artists (to-date) to give myself the opportunity to paint a painting for each day, or at least 30 in this next month starting on January 2nd, so that might mean several in a day to keep up.   (There's been a few teachers and mentors who have encouraged me to do that very thing and I'm excited about taking part in this adventure).   Leslie gives some great pointers on how to prepare and make it a successful experience here.    Personally, it will take me some planning ahead and having my space and materials ready ahead of time.
As a theme for myself I will be painting
Everything that's been on my list to paint, which means:
At least 5 paintings each of
Cape Cod and urban scenes
and I will plan to paint on location/en plein air at least once or twice a week
plus do some abstract explorations and playing with a palette knife
Check out my pinterest page for what has inspired me lately

As an artist and mother of two boys it seems like an insurmountable scheduling feat, but I think it will be good for me (I like challenges) and I will just have to get organized and find more time - and paint in the evenings as well...
On my to-do list:
go through photos - pick/print the ones I want to do
Order more paint and check that I have enough surface materials
set up dates with other artists for the location painting
prepare canvas boards and do my compositions and drawings ahead of time.

 And anyone who knows me knows that I'm all for finding others to be accountable to and journey with and I'm hoping a few of my fellow artists in our goal group might consider joining as well!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Back Here

Oil on Gessoboard
To Bid

I probably don't seem like someone who's into cars, and I can't say that I'm a car buff.   But there's something about the older model, beautifully designed car with personality that makes me happy.   It also reminds me of all the car shows my dad brought us to in Sweden when I was little.   Well, maybe dragged is a better word...Makes it all a little more nostalgic and close to my heart now.  This is my first serious attempt.   I like the car peeking out from behind.   That's the way I feel sometimes - as an artist.    I'd rather hide behind my easel....and just peek

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Light down the Road

 Light Down the Road
Oil on Gessoboard

Sometimes it's hard to know what's down the road.  Impossible as a matter a fact...   This painting is a reminder to me that if I just put one foot in front of the other and do what is in my power, in life, as well as on my art journey, things will fall into place.   Aside from painting whenever I have a chance I'm working on an art project that for me has a lot of meaning and is stepping way out of my comfort zone.   Along the way I haven't always known whether it's a go or not.   I will share more about it here and on a new blog as soon as I can set it in motion.  Right now things are looking up:-)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Wheelin'

Oil on Gessoboard

I have a lot of fun with the kids going on little field trips.  This is from when we went to Kidspace in Pasadena, a great Children's museum with bugs, climbing, water and tricycles.  This is another painting where I turned my photo upside down.  I really liked the shadow helping to create some contrast.   The shorts were a bit of a challenge...What do you focus on?  Local color, in shadow versus in light and then add the pattern, or the other way around?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Afternoon Conversation

oil on gessoboard

My son got pretty close and conversational with a duck this summer.   It was on our vacation when we spent a day in Boston.   If you've ever read the book "Make Way for Duckling" this is the actual pond where the story takes place.  Lots of ducks, beautiful back-lighting, complimentary colors.   I knew when I took the picture that it would make for a pretty good subject matter.   And it's time I do some painting of my kids while they're still little.   I'm not at all used to painting people, but I'm pretty happy with this one.  I think it helped to turn the photo up-side down so I could focus on the shapes and values more than perfect'm working really hard these days to get away from those details.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sun-lit in Carpinteria

oil on Gessoboard

There's this huge ancient-looking tree in Carpinteria that even has a plaque to speak to it's historical significance.  Well, I actually found the following interesting info on this site:

The Wardholme Torrey Pine is considered the largest Torrey Pine in the world, noted on an adjacent historical marker. The tree was brought from Santa Rosa island when still a seedling and planted in Carpinteria in 1888 by Judge Thomas Ward near his home. Local legend indicates that in the 1880's there was a polite but heated competition between the city residents to see who could grow the most unique plants, and when Judge Ward received this tree as a gift from his friend Townshend Stith Brandegee, he proudly planted it directly in front of his home.
The tree now measures approximately 126 feet tall, 20' 5" circumference, 130' branch spread. When Florence Ward inherited the property she dutifully continued caring for the tree and saw that it received professional maintenance; it was Florence who first proposed the tree should become an official landmark and be protected. In 1968 the tree was recognized as the city's "1st Official Landmark."
There was a celebration in 1988 for the tree's 100-year anniversary. In 2005 there was a movement to save it from potential development of the lot by commercial and residential developers. [Gina Taylor, 02/13/2011]

Behind this pine there is a house.   It had so much personality by the way it was aging as well, so I wanted to paint it!   Next time I'll paint the tree...

What's your favorite color combination?

Tony's Pizzaria
oil on gesso board

This was painted from a photo I took in Ventura.  I was driving past this little pizzeria and it stopped me in my tracks.   What I was drawn to beside the afternoon light hitting the building and the awning was two colors that I seem to be drawn to.  It happens when I see it in other people's work as well as my own when it comes to what I decide to paint.   Those colors are - a certain shade of orange in combination with a turquoise kind of blue.  It seems to be such an ongoing color theme in my work and it made me wonder if other artists have favorite combinations and what they are?  

Please share your favorite color combinations in the comment section!  If you want, please include a link to a painting with that combination, whether it's your own painting or someone else's work.
I look forward to seeing what you're drawn to!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Key to Who's Who

The Key to Who's Who
Oil on Gessoboard
The owls are gathering again.  I think I'm most happy with the owl on the right.  He's the most simplified.  


Oil on Gessoboard 

3rd straight day at the studio today and I'm able to leave my brush strokes alone a little better after some solid time painting:-)  Listening to a lot of AHA - Artists Helping Artists blog radio podcasts which is keeping me inspired and motivated to improve.  And  it feels great to be part of the Artist Community at Channel Islands Art Center which is where my studio is now located.   Lots of interesting events coming up this fall I'll post more about coming up. 
I'm also talking to one of the artists about starting a little Artists Support Group to meet once a month, talk about our goals and support each other in reaching them.   Anyone in the Camarillo/Ventura vicinity who's interested in joining us - send me an email, or post a comment!

Monday, August 13, 2012

My workshop with me...

Pepper Toad
Oil on Gessoboard

It proved to be practically impossible for me to leave the kids and hubby for a workshop out of town this week as I had hoped so I figured since I now have my new studio space and the time already carved out with the kids doing "Daddy Camp"for the week - what better time than now to just put myself through my personal little bootcamp - Art with myself!
After watching all of Carol Marine's Artbytes (great little online Art Tutorials that can be found here) I was certainly inspired to approach my painting armed with some new ways of approaching things and I'm going to put a lot of paint on canvas, or gessoboard as it might be, this week.   

I'm not sure this toad likes peppers, but what I learned here was that looking through a viewfinder attached to a tripod really helped me measure and get the placement of the objects down when doing the initial drawing.  Thanks go to Carol!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Follow me to My New Studio Space!

Studio D3
I'm now officially an Artist in Resident at
Studio Channel Islands Art Center
2222 Ventura Blvd. (Studio D3)
Camarillo, CA 93010

Very exciting!  I don't know what's in store on this new journey, but I'm looking forward to not backing in to my desk when I step back to look at what I'm painting and getting to try out some new things in this larger space.  A whole- half classroom to spread out in!  One that I'll be sharing with multi-talented artist Mary Ann Betner.   I'm working on finding some furniture to store things in and getting ready for my self-designed artbyte bootcamp next week gleaning all I can from Carole Marine's excellent instruction and then painting every day!   I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inspired to explore

"Still - Moving"
Oil on gessoboard

This was painted interpreting what I saw in real life and playing around with the design.  I was inspired by a plein air sketch I did at Leo Carillo Beach and although it's realistic I moved things around to work better and I like that I'm starting to take more liberties that way.   It's in an exhibit called Yin Yang Summer at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks which I was invited to participate in right before vacation so it gave me a good (tight) deadline to ponder the theme and get to work on it:-)  I have 5 pieces in the show and 3 of them are painted in a more representational style - something I'm more familiar with.  The other 2 gave me the opportunity to explore abstracting my subject matter and interpreting it in a more personal way which really appeals to me...and I'm uploading those below.

Visiting galleries in Provincetown last month with my mom and sister was really inspiring and the two artists whose work I loved the most because of their beautiful abstracts were:

Kristen Gossler whose work can be found at the Hutson Gallery and:

Jenny Nelson who shows her work at Julie Heller Gallery in P-town.  I loved Jenny's work because of her colors, strong simplified design and variety of marks and looking at her work helped me approach my abstract work in a more structured way.  I've realized I'm not an artist who can throw some paint on and just get lost in the process... I'm too much of a control freak I think (no - I know:) and that process is too unsettling for me because I don't know where I'm going... :-) so...

-First I started with the theme, deciding how I wanted to interpret the yin and yang of summer in a way that was meaningful to me and what symbols to include.
-I did a lot of sketching trying to simplify my subject matter and abstract it.
-I then painted an original sketch that still seemed too realistic to me.
Farewell - Hello First attempt
-I then painted on top of that.  Inspired by Jenny Nelson's work and the way she ties the design together with big shapes of colors, many times in light color-combinations, always beautiful, I worked on doing something similar, and was able to simplify my design more and tie it together better, I hope.  Here's my final version of the piece:

 "Farewell - Hello"
Oil on Gessoed Artboard
And for my next piece I got even more abstract, focusing on big shapes unifying my more representational elements and had more fun in the process:
"Pleasure and Pedal"
Oil on Gessoed Artboard

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vacation on Cape Cod

"To Catch or be Caught"
Oil on linen on panel

Spent two lovely weeks on Cape Cod with both my husband's family and my mom and my sister with family from Sweden.   The kids had a great time playing with all their cousins, swimming around in the pond and finding both snapping turtles and fireflies.   One evening, aunt Susan and aunt Mary were fishing off the dock and Max and Jake the two golden retrievers were very captivated by the process.  They even managed to snag the rather large catfish Susan caught off the line by jumping in the was quite a sight:-)      And even though I didn't paint as much as I set out to do, I got up early a few mornings to paint and one morning I did paint this from a photo I took of the dogs that night on the dock, as well as some abstract pieces that were a lot of fun.   I'll post more of that and the art we saw coming up...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shadow Play

oil on gesso board
Had a lot of fun today and I was on a roll:-) - Inspired to try some of the DailyPaintWorks Challenges finishing 2 little 6x6s and starting on a 3rd.   A little difficult to get those tiny high lights and I continue to try and simplify which is not as easy from a photo...too much information and detail as well as too little on the actual colors...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back Bay Close Up


 Oil on linen Canvas board
I painted this little 6x6 at a workshop with Glenn Dean (link to one of my favorite paintings of his) in Newport Back Bay last Friday.
The Fine Art Collaborative had arranged a weekend of great workshops as well as 2 lectures with Dan McCaw and John Asaro and an Art Show at the Randy Higbee Gallery in Costa Mesa.  This was the first year for the event and I hope they do it again.

It was really nice to see Glenn demo and we all got to see first hand how simplifying the landscape creates a much stronger statement, especially with Glenn's beautiful color combinations and his masterful sense of design.  I especially love his handling of clouds and trees and I learned a lot from seeing how deliberate he is in his process of laying down the paint.

 Glenn Dean's demo piece
It was a treat to hang out and paint with a talented group of artists.  Painting with us Friday were both Frank Gardner and Mark Fehlman, two of the other Workshop Instructors that weekend.  And in the evening I stayed for the lecture with Dan McCaw who was inspiring as well.  Here are some of the notes I took that stand out (sometimes paraphrased:):
-We all have our own True North.  Develop skills to take you on a journey - the journey you want to go on!
-I want a painting to draw you in, surprise you and awaken something that you already own.
-The shadow of the monster is more powerful than spelling it out.  Stay a little ambiguous.
-A painting is done when you've said what you want to say.
I left encouraged to explore, fill sketchbooks with ideas and paint, making my own pure, aesthetic choices looking past painting exactly what you see, to say what I want to say.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Late Sun at More Mesa

Lessons learned in Ray Robert's Workshop
Along with about 12 other students I got to spend 2 intense days painting and learning from Ray Roberts, a great workshop teacher and winner of the Gold Medal Award for Painting at the California Art Club's 101st Annual Gold medal show in April of this year.   Here are some of the notes I took and what I'm taking with me from the class:

The focus on shapes; finding the rhythm of the shape and making the contour interesting enough to be believable, but not being a slave to the literal interpretation.
(We did a great exercise where we focused on painting a scene in just 3 values, focusing on the shapes and staying pretty close in values within each shape, simplifying it to make a stronger statement - a great exercise for me because I tend to get lost in all the beautiful colors I see in nature and then I tend to end up with too much lights and dark areas within an area/value and loosing the strong design, things "popping" where they shouldn't...)

Ray pointed out that if you are unhappy with a painting it is often because you changed your light and dark pattern.
-We talked about achieving "Dynamic Symmetry" where there is both balance - and tension. 
-Seeing painting as a subtractive process of what to avoid:
Anything equal, repeating angles; shapes; sizes and spacing.

The painting high above is the one I did in the afternoon on the first day.  I was drawn to the contour of the cliff and if you look at the photo right above you can see that there is this "very interesting clump of trees" hanging off the edge of the cliff.  Great I thought, and put it in just the way it was.   Ray came over and was nudging me to perhaps take them out....I felt pretty resistant since those trees were the reason I decided to paint this cliff (aside from the composition I could create within the little 6x6 format and the great atmosphere and colors) so I was pretty determined to keep them.   In a very smart move Ray then asked Peggy (Kroll-Roberts, his wife and a very accomplished artist and teacher) to come over and look at my painting asking her if there was something she felt I should add?...Or take out, I added.   Well she said, there are those trees that just draw your eye over there because it's the area of most contrast make a long story short - I got the point, took them out and learned an important lesson in the importance of simplifying and not being a slave to what's there especially when something that might seem interesting can pull your eye over to that area in a painting and then get you stuck there:-)
I really like this little plein air sketch now.  It's simplified, the values and shapes work and I love the combination of color.  Thank you Ray and Peggy!
Now on to the next thing I need to learn...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mi Perro y La Playa - Sold

Painted on location at O'Hendry's Beach

This was one of my paintings displayed at the Art Along the Creek event in Santa Barbara this past weekend.   An event organized by SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) to benefit the Phoenix of Santa Barbara - a non-profit mental health agency - and it's creek habitat restoration program.    I can't help but think that giving the painting back the title my husband originally gave it had something to do with it selling:-)  It was a really nice event and a chance to get to know more of the artists that belong to SCAPE and supporting a great cause.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Peaceful Atmosphere

It feels like a long time since I was out painting, although it's only been since last Monday... I came back from a workshop with Ray Roberts that weekend where I learned a lot and got to do a lot of painting. ...(Didn't think I could ever have enough time for painting:-), but I felt like I had to take a little time off and re-charge.   I enjoyed time with the kids, catching up with business related art-stuff and ideas for a Children's book and even today I wasn't sure I would be ready, but I'm really glad I went.   I found a shady spot by the entrance road to King Gilette's and I could see this view of the hills and the kind of atmosphere I like to paint.   A peaceful morning getting back to painting and feeling rejuvenated by being out in nature again and before I knew it I feel motivated (aka obsessed) again.   I'll share more about what I learned at the workshop coming up!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sunstruck - sold

This little original was painted at Paramount Ranch en Plein air, which is my favorite way to work!   I loved the way this tree was back-lit and stood out against the foliage in the back.   A great day of painting, and I felt even more comfortable when I ran into Joseph Mendez and his painting friend on the same road.
I'm really excited about two things this week:  I get to go on a 2-day work-shop with Ray Roberts this Friday and Saturday and I found this great place for floater-frames for my little 6x6 paintings and they just arrived in the mail.   I have to give thanks to Nancy Hartley and her blog Nancy Hartley's Art Adventures which is where I found her post on frames from Franken Frames.   The frames are beautiful and very reasonably priced and I followed Nancy's lead and talked to Roger, from Franken Frames  (800 322-5899) and when I mentioned Nancy he was able to easily figure out exactly what I needed.   Sometimes it's so much easier talking to someone on the phone instead of ordering frames online.   I got the all black, the white-washed maple and the clear maple with black interior and I attached the wooden support piece with 2 screws from the back and then glued the canvas board to that (this can also be attached with silicone caulking or velcro which would make it possible to change a painting out).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All Sliced Up

Man oh man are oranges difficult!...  and I guess good practice for that very reason....   I continue to work on simplifying things, but I have to really fight the urge to stare myself blind on every little nuance of color I see.   My favorite part of this painting is the upper left corner.   Let's see if things improve with the next orange:-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Key to Survival

My second still life in my series on mice (or collectibles).   And I really like this little mouse - able to avoid the hungry owl...:)

Monday, April 30, 2012

In Full Bloom

Painting of the trees in full bloom at King Gilette's.   A  paint out day that provided us with a few obstacles before we settled down to paint.   We started out at a different location (Rocky Park), but turns out they were spraying plants there that day(something poisonous?...) so we decided to drive to King Gilette's.  Well there, the road to the blossoms were being paved so we couldn't get in...We then figured out there was another entrance to get in and got our easels out to paint, just in time for the park maintenance crew to set up right in our line of view to trim the trees you see in the back of my painting.
Just a typical day in the life of a plein air painter:-)  Thanks to Pam and Jan for sticking it out!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Of Mice and Snowmen - Sold

So, I'm starting this new still life series exploring all the toys and collectibles I can find around the house.    It helps that my husband is a collector of many things and I'm getting help from both him and my son to add to my collection of owls...not sure that is the ultimate thing I'd want to collect?, but it is it for now.   I had a lot of fun painting this first one and I got to incorporate one of my favorite pieces of art - my son Ben's drawing of a snowman.

On a different note - The most successful part of the exhibit I was a part of last Sunday was probably how fast the refreshing cucumber drink I brought seem to   So, I thought I'd share the recipe that I found on this blog.   These are the ingrediences:
1 to 1.5 large cucumbers
1 whole bag of crushed ice
1 can (12 oz.) frozen/slightly thawed limeade
2 liter bottle of 7up/Sprite/Fresca (choose your favorite, or the one that’s on sale :) )
A bowl/pitcher (or both) large enough to fit a whole bag of crushed ice + the other ingredients. (As you can probably tell, this makes way over 2 liters of drink, especially after the ice melts some. Makes this drink perfect for any party!)
You can go to Caley's site to get the "step by step" with picture.
I usually double or triple the recipe and put it in this handy drink dispenser I have from Bed Bath and Beyond.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Follow Me

 Click here to bid on this painting
This was painted at Malibu Lagoon this spring.  We were several artists painting with the California Art Club and I had a hard time making up my mind on what to paint til I found this spot below the bridge where I zeroed in on the reflections and cropping the picture in a way I liked.
 Yesterday I spent the day with about 20 other artists at Randy Higbee's Gallery in Costa Mesa listening to some great on-line marketing tips from Palette Knife Artist and Radio Blog Host Leslie Saeta.   It was very helpful and I'm still trying to sort out all that I can do as an artist to reach more people, improve my online presence as well as sell more work.   Visit Leslie's website here and check out all the interesting segments you can listen to on her blog radio show Artists Helping Artists.   I'm hoping she'll be able to come and do one of her marketing seminars for the Art guild I'm a member of - Westlake Village Art Guild - Anyone interested in participating send me an email at and I will keep you up-dated.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Three Amigos - Sold

Working frenetically to get ready for the exhibit on the 22nd, trying to not drive my family too crazy and keep some sort of balance...Very important:-) but I had some time Friday to play around with a still-life again. This one is my second attempt with the same set-up and it was interesting to find that the second time around when I didn't focus as much on the drawing and just wanted to get it down actually ended up being more accurate. That seems to be what I keep fast and intuitively and don't think too much. This will be my first attempt at doing an auction with Dailypaintworks.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Las Virgenes Barn

I wonder how many artists and others have noticed this old barn that can be seen on the right side of Las Virgines road when you drive down to the beach? I so wish there was a way I could figure out who owns it to see if they'd allow some painters to paint it, stepping on to their property. Maybe some day I'll be brave enough to just drive over there:-) In the meantime I snapped some photos of it from the road one afternoon and used it as reference for this little painting.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


This was painted on location and what I liked about what I saw was the yellowish green bush and how it was complimented by the slightly violet grasses in the back so I tried to push that. And I had fun working on being looser with my brushwork on the foliage of the bush/tree. The color of the back hill was a little difficult to capture...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Peek-a-Booh Light

This was painted on location and I learned a few things. It was a good practice in simplifying things, although I could have done always lol, and softening an edge of the rocks made a huge difference in making them look better than before.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tree Sketch

I worked on several pieces today but none that got finished and ready to photograph so here's a recent sketch where I tried to leave some of it less detailed.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hiking Up

Had a great day yesterday as I went out painting with 2 friends in the Santa Monica Mountains. We all looked to find our scene and I decided to hike up the hill a little further to see if there were any nice views and atmosphere beyond the ridge. The fog was clearing, but luckily there was some haziness left and I chose to paint this scene because I was drawn to the dark shapes of a nice clump of trees, the path through and the distance created by the bluish hills behind. Lots of hikers were out, even a whole class of kids came through the opening and hiked up a path next to those trees. (Didn't end up putting any of them in my painting - yet:) This little original will be available for purchase (ready to frame) through Daily Paintworks, but I will also display it at the Mountains Restoration Trust, 9th Annual Art Exhibit where it will be framed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Open Road

When I first drove on this back road between Westlake and Newbury Park it was a surprise to find this beautiful valley hidden away with farmland and horses. Never knew it was there. I guess it's the nice thing about roads. You never know where they're going to lead. And on this gray rainy day it looked like I was somewhere quite different than Southern California.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Light edge

Had a great time at Paramount Ranch with the kids when I spotted this tree where the light of the sun was creating some really strong contrasts that I liked. I took some pictures and tried to capture that wonderful light. It's hard to go anywhere without being stopped in my tracks by nature's beauty.

Monday, March 26, 2012

In the Know

BIG DAY TODAY! I'm joining Daily Paintworks Check out my page that will be filling up with work day by day! I will have some of my work available for purchase as well.
First still life I'm attempting is above. I really like the control it affords me in picking exactly what to paint, placing it where I want it and being able to crop it exactly how I want to. I think I made it extra difficult by having my set up by the window where the light inevitably changed and since I didn't have it set up in a box and couldn't find my viewfinder...?.. staying focused on the exact angle was a bit of a challenge:-)
I'm learning more about setting up a shadow box from Carol Marine and James M Coulter. Check out their helpful tips!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fall 2011- Character Design with Mark McDonell

I have this dream of some day writing/illustrating a children's book. One reason is that it seems like such a great creative outlet and it would give a tangible result, and two, because I have such admiration for Astrid Lindgren and now that I have children myself there's a lot of stories to be told.
So to that end, since I would want to illustrate it myself:-) I keep plugging away at getting better at drawing characters....which is a better idea than just making a story about trees and rocks I think? I took this class at LAAFA (Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art) with Mark McDonell this fall.
It was a great class and Mark is so incredibly full of ideas and enthusiastic about this craft. And, it was also incredibly challenging at the same time...I'd spend a good amount of time on our homework to where I felt like "hey this is pretty good...." and then I'd bring my work to class, look around at all the talent in the room and think "Oh cr.. :-) I don't really know what I'm doing...?"...but such is my journey as an artist. There's always someone who's better and someone who's worse and I just have to keep going and focus on what I can do better. Here's some of the sketches from that class.
Sketches for a female lead with some marks to clarify the design by Mark
Creating an additional character for The Neverland Pirates
Some sketches for an assignment where I drew mostly baby gorillas
Creating a female villain with the inspiration of sea creatures