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Journey Collection Part II: The Ocean Period

We're on the next leg of our journey together through the Journey Collection! Last week, I talked about the paintings I did in college that hinted at future ideas and techniques (see the College Era pieces HERE) This week, we're taking a bit of a detour as we dive into the Ocean Period!

These paintings were created while my husband was doing post-graduate work in seminary, and I worked full-time as a professional cleaner (not a maid, mind you . . . a CLEANER: we did homes, banks, a Fedex warehouse, post-construction with no air conditioning, you name it. I did a lot of hanging outside of 3rd story windows, cleaning off mud and stickers).

We lived in the Virginia Beach/Chesapeake area at the time, and I was surrounded by the influences of the ocean. I still had not found my artistic purpose, and was doing a lot of freelance work - painting and drawing absolutely anything for whoever wanted it. However, these paintings did bring in a few techniques and imagery that I use to this day!

These paintings were inspired by the nearby beaches, but even more so, by that incredibly peaceful feeling that I get while floating with my face underwater. Silence, and the gentle lapping of the warm water - a much needed respite from our good but difficult life during this time.

"Orcas Ascending"

Acrylic on 12x20" gallery-wrapped canvas

While all of the Ocean Period paintings are done with acrylic, you can tell that I just couldn't get away from my love of watercolor. I used the same techniques to paint on canvas with acrylic that I now use to do large watercolor paintings on canvas; lots and lots of water, and letting the colors flow however they like.

I did several paintings this way, with very little plan in the beginning; spread lots of water, add in the blue, sprinkle some salt on top, and then let it dry. Afterward, I would then decide what sea creature should go in that space. Orcas Ascending was one of the first ones that I actually planned what animals I wanted to paint before I did the background wash of blue. This period was also the first one where I focused on painting things other than portraits, and I still use animals frequently to this day!

"Undersea Wildlife"

Acrylic on 18x24" canvas

Since my job at this time was basically manual labor, my art was a true escape every evening. I was doing a lot of freelance, but also a lot of just-for-fun projects (I was heavily into digital art and comic drawing at the time).

"Undersea Wildlife" was the very first loose abstract painting I did; it was a way to give myself permission to play, to try something completely different, and get out of my head. I call this style 'meditative abstracts', since I would just follow the underlying brushstrokes in a sort of zen headspace, without planning, just letting the colors take me wherever they wanted. I was, however, very consciously choosing my colors for the feeling that I wanted, even then!

"Life Within"

Acrylic on 16x20" gallery-wrapped canvas

"Life Within" was painted live at my first 3-day craft fair! I was incredibly nervous, and told myself "Just keep painting, just keep painting", and actually painted far more detail than I would have otherwise, which I think makes it a much stronger piece.

I love this painting, the movement, the colors; I feel like it tells a story without words, which is exactly what I try to accomplish with my flower-people portraits today.

"Seabed Explorers"

Acrylic on four 12x12" canvases (24x24" total)

This was such an experimental time for me, from painting with a color I had thought I didn't like (helloooo blue!), to painting sea animals instead of portraits, and playing with canvas sizes, shapes, and even separating the image into a dyptich (or quatraptych, I guess?) as I did here. I hope to carry that playful, experimental spirit with me into my future work as well; it can only be a strength.


Acrylic on 16x20" canvas

I have had a love of humpback whales ever since my family went on a whale-watching trip off the coast of Boston and saw a mama humpback napping with her baby. If I paint a whale, I always gravitate to humpbacks. I think every person has animals that they connect with, and I believe that animals can be used to describe different personality types - an idea I will be illustrating in the Temperaments Collection!

"Depth of Love"

Acrylic on 5x9' unstretched canvas

This painting, my largest single painting to date, was used as the backdrop for an amazing styled-photoshoot-turned-real-vow-renewal that blew us all away!

You can read my blog post about it HERE, but it was so incredible. The couple were married in the military, and didn't have a chance to have a wedding photographer. We did our shoot on their anniversary, and they read each other renewal vows and everything! I wanted to communicate family love with the pod of whales, and also used the glacier as a nod towards that depth of relationship that people on the outside just don't see on the surface.

Do you have a favorite from this set? Do you feel a connection to the ocean or any animals in particular?

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