Moon snail shell

Drawing this moon snail shell brought back memories of a project I worked on four years ago when I drew and painted a moon snail shell 100 times.  You can link to the first blog post about it here.  I may have to try another 100 paintings project in the future.

 

Sea shells

Sea shells

“To live in the world of creation — to get into it and stay in it — to frequent it and haunt it — to think intensely and fruitfully — to woo combinations and inspirations into being by a depth and continuity of attention and meditation — this is the only thing.”
— Henry James

Moon Snail Shell # 100, ink sketch with watercolor

Moon Snail Shell # 100, ink sketch with watercolor

I’ve finished Moon Snail Shell # 100!

Some observations:

  • No big breakthroughs.  I didn’t push my boundaries nearly enough.  I was always conscious of my promise to post every painting, and opening my work to public scrutiny was an impediment to creativity.  I think that I would have found the project much more freeing if I had required myself to destroy every one of my first 100 sketches and then gone from there.
  • That said, I do like some of my sketches more than others.  Here are some of my favorites: Numbers 32 – 34, 39, 43 – 45, 67 – 68, and 72 – 79.

    A few of my favorites

    A few of my favorites

  • Looking back at the body of work, I do see that I have a rather consistent style or point of view.  I wish it had evolved more.
  • The assignment kept my interest.  Art has its own set of challenges — how to depict edges, how to show volume, how to express my feelings, how to translate what I see to the blank page . . .  I find each new drawing and painting absorbing and worthy of my attention.
  • I do like projects.  Unlike so many other things in life, projects have definite beginnings and endings.  I can bundle this experience and make it stand out in the long path to becoming an artist.  I will have to think up new projects in the future.

It takes so little in terms of material things to craft a meaningful life.  I want to live my life captivated by ordinary things, small moments.  And my moon snail shell embodies that principle.  I chose for my 100 Drawings Project a found object, something that cost nothing.  And yet, it provided hours and hours of focused absorption, contemplation, and joy.  I think I chose well.

“While we respond to the exacting demands of the environment, we must attempt to rediscover, during what leisure we can wrestle from the struggle, the value and the quality in little things.”
— Angel Pellegrini, The Unprejudiced Palate:  Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life

“Nearly all the best and most precious things in the universe you can get for a half penny.  I make an exception, of course, of the sun, the moon, the earth, people, stars, thunderstorms, and such trifles.  You can get them for nothing.”
— G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

“Joys come from simple and natural things, mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water.  Even rain and stormy clouds bring joy, just knowing animals and flowers and where they live.  Such things are where you find them, and belong to the aware and alive.”
— Sigurd Olson

And so I leave this project as my gift to you.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

“Thus, the artist’s gift is not necessarily the artistic expression he or she imparts to the object created but, rather, the expansion of our awareness and our appreciation of the wonder, diversity, and unlimited opportunities of the world.”
– Barry Behrstock, The Way of the Artist:  Reflections on Creativity and the Life, Home, Art and Collections of Richard Marquis

 

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
— Henry Miller

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
— Aristotle

Moon Snail Shells # 94 - 97, watercolor sketches

Moon Snail Shells # 94 – 97, watercolor sketches

Moon Snail Shells # 98 - 99, watercolor sketches

Moon Snail Shells # 98 – 99, watercolor sketches

The model for my moon snail project

The model for my moon snail project

 

 

 

“Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
— Les Brown

Moon Snail Shell # 93, watercolor painting

Moon Snail Shell # 93, watercolor painting

I don’t know the significance of my moon snail shell’s name.  The scientific name does include the Latin word Lunatia.  Its round form does resemble the moon, I think.  Another evocative association for my little art object!

 

“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”
— Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art

Moon snail shell on red

Moon snail shell on red

"White Shell with Red" by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1938

“White Shell with Red” by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1938

“Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet.”
— Paul Klee

The paintings for this post were my attempts to play with color.  O’Keeffe’s “White Shell with Red” is an inspiration.  My amateur attempts fell far short of my aspirations for this challenge.

Moon Snail Shell # 89, watercolor sketch with red

Moon Snail Shell # 89, watercolor sketch with red

Moon Snail Shell # 90, watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 90, watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 91, watercolor sketch with blue -- the best of this lot, I think

Moon Snail Shell # 91, watercolor sketch with blue — the best of this lot, I think

Moon Snail Shell # 92, watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 92, watercolor sketch

Yin-Yang symbol

Yin-Yang symbol

My shell resembles the yin-yang symbol.

My shell resembles the yin-yang symbol.

My moon snail shell reminds me of the yin-yang symbol and its associations with the paradoxes of opposites and inter-dependencies.  I do find that few things are strictly black and white.  So often a good thing contains the seed of decay.  For example, one of my husband’s best virtues is his generosity, but that means he finds it hard to save money.  He gives so much of himself to others that his family sometimes gets short shrift. Or think of someone who is loyal.  She might stay too long in failed relationships.  Or someone who is good at planning who might be too rigid and closed to the joys of spontaneity.  Turn the virtue you most love about a person on its side, and what is revealed is the thing you hate and drives you to the edge.

The Identity of Relative and Absolute
by Shih-tou

Within light there is darkness,
but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value
and is related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative,
like two arrows meeting in mid-air.

Moon Snail Shell # 86, watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 86, watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 87, ink and watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 87, ink and watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 89, ink and watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 88, ink and watercolor sketch