Secrets of the Sea: A new drawing


It was Canada Day here on Tuesday, and also the beginning of the second half of the year. That felt significant to me – like a fresh start, a half-way-New-Years, if you will.

The first half of the year was all-wedding-madness-all-the-time. There was also a lot of settling into life as a non-nomad (still getting used to it!). We got an apartment, we bought furniture, we actually unpacked. After 2+ years on the road, it felt strange. I’ve been in a state of packing for so long.

It was a limbo-like, transitionary period. The only goal was to make it to June 7 without spontaneously combusting from stress and pay for the wedding. Rebuilding my portfolio didn’t quite fit in.

So three weeks after the wedding, we are finally mostly recovered, starting to establish new routines and look to the future – where we want to live, and what kind of lives we want to build.

Most importantly, I am back in my studio daily from 9-12:30pm. I am working through the rustiness from lack of practice and feeling my way into a new body of work and what that’s going to look like.

The whole time I was planning the wedding, I did have my guilty pleasure drawing. Whenever I couldn’t take another second of vendor research or deciding how I wanted the napkins folded (#&$^#^??!), I’d break out this drawing and escape back into my world of art.

I didn’t have any spare money or time to hire a model but fortunately, photos of Old Master paintings can be acquired by the bucketful online.

William Bouguereau was a French painter from the mid 19th century and while I don’t always love his subject matter (too many saccharine children and glossy portrayals of poverty) his execution and draughtsmanship were faultless. It’s the next best thing to having an actual person.

I downloaded several of his female figure paintings and then went with my gut.

For some reason, this one spoke to me:

Woman with Seashell, W. Bouguereau


Saucy, isn’t she?

I’m still not sure why she chose me but she evolved into so much more than just a mere copy. Her expression shifted from come-hither to something more open; kinder and fresher. Her smile is gentle and friendly. It’s like whatever she hears in that seashell is a good thing. She’s listening to its secrets and she wants to share them with you.

And despite wrestling with this piece (so rusty!), instead of giving up, I just kept coming back. She kept calling me back. I couldn’t abandon her, despite my difficulties. She demanded to be a finished piece.

So 5 months after starting, I spent yesterday morning finishing her up. It was the perfect start to the second half of the year.

I re-titled this piece “Secrets of the Sea” and I think she likes it.

Secrets of the Sea, 9.5″ x 12.5″ on toned paper in terra cotta pencil




If you’d like to purchase this piece, it’s available for sale here.