Seaweed artistic inspiration and exploration

seaweed in bowl watercolour

Sometimes a small bit of inspiration can go a long way. I recently began taking a closer look at seaweed and each study has led to more ideas.

My first project was to design a fabric collection incorporating some illustrated marine plants. I have two small children and don’t often have the luxury of sitting for hours at the beach to draw. So I did some quick sketches on location and then gathered samples that had become detached and floated in with the tide.

mom daughter twinning seaweed skirts

I brought them home and filled a cooler with salt water to keep them looking natural and was then able to draw and paint from observation in the evenings. I really wanted the seaweed to look like it was underwater. I love how they look flowy and weightless in the ocean—washed up on the rocks they lose a bit of the magic. So for each specimen I would place it in a bowl of water to observe as I drew or painted.

seaweed watercolor illustrations

I converted these drawings to flat shapes in Adobe Illustrator and played around with different patterns and repeats until I was satisfied with the collection. Here are a few of my favourites that I sell in my online fabric shop:

Botanical Beach Seaweed – kinda blue fabric design

A fun collection of seaweed and kelp varieties overlap in this large scale repeat. Vibrant blues and greens. Check out Botanical beach seaweed – kinda blue in my fabric shop

botanical beach seaweed blue fabric design

Seaweed Mingling fabric design

Two species of seaweed, intertwined and mingling in a seamless underwater repeat. Have a look at Seaweed Mingling in my shop.
seaweed mingling westcoast fabric design

Seaweed Chevron, white on seafoam fabric design

Whimsical specimens of rockweed / bladderwrack / popweed – nature’s bubblewrap. Fun chevron ‘V’ shapes create a geometric repeat with an organic feel. This one is also available for purchase as fabric or wallpaper in my Spoonflower shop.

sea foam seaweed chevron fabric design

Seaweed drift

Seaweed drift was my first seaweed linocut – an 18″x12″ graphic interpretation of bladderwrack (the “popper” seaweeed). I did quite a few drawings before transferring to the block to carve to get the spacing I was looking for. The carving itself was quite time consuming on this one with all the tiny dots in the seaweed. I love the play of positive and negative space in this one, and the sense that the shapes are floating.

seaweed drift botanical art

Kelp twirl

In 2016 I was a participant in an outdoor art competition hosted by Opus Art Supplies (my favourite art store!) in Victoria BC. Artists set up in a designated area and had 5 hours to complete their piece. I was the only printmaker of the bunch and I created this piece called ‘Kelp twirl‘. I set up on a little beach with an artist friend and sketched the design, carved and printed it all right at the beach, using seaweed on location for reference. It was such a blast and I’m totally hooked on outdoor art making!

kelp seaweed art

Swimming with jellyfish

I also incorporated some kelp in this ‘Swimming with Jellyfish‘ print – my take on a west coast mermaid.

mermaid underwater jellyfish

And I still have more seaweed ideas. I would like to create a larger print in the same style as ‘Kelp twirl’ to pair with “Seaweed Drift”. To finish off here is a collage of some of the exploratory work for my seaweed inspired work.

seaweed exploration inspiration