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