Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Art and the Aquarium: Creativity comes in many forms

Many people say the ocean is an inspiration. We know. When our visitors share photographs of their Aquarium visit on social media, we are treated to glimpses of the animals and exhibits through their eyes. Take this adorable photo of a young visitor that was shared with us on Facebook. Or this visitor's compilation of photographs on Tumblr. The photographs are stunning, inspiring, engaging and sometimes funny.

But the creativity doesn't stop with a camera. It's always a special day when visitors share their artwork with us—from sketches to oil paintings to digital drawings, from professionals to amateurs. We want to introduce a couple of the artists who've shared their work with us, and let them explain a bit about their work and how the Aquarium inspires them.

Brandon Strathmann
I worked as an animation artist for Disney, DreamWorks and Fox in the past. I am presently an art professor for Lesley University.

I have loved the ocean for as long as I can remember, and I have always visited the ocean and aquariums whenever I had a chance to continue studying these fascinating life forms. The New England Aquarium has been inspirational to me for many years. I visited it many times in 2007 while I was a graduate student that needed to capture the feeling of the deep in my paintings and drawings.

I cannot overemphasize how valuable drawing the living animals you have on exhibit is to developing animators. You are forced to capture life in motion when you draw fish, the dynamic nature of water makes everything that moves far more apparent. All of this artwork, which I posted on Facbook, was done digitally in Adobe Photoshop. I started off by drawing and then felt moved to make a fast painting of the main exhibit immediately before the Aquarium closed.

Seeing the realistically sculpted and colored corals in your newly refurbished aquarium was so inspirational that I needed to draw and paint it. The films that my wife and I made required us to build, color and texture three dimensional computer models of coral reefs. It was very challenging to create them based off of photos! I was thinking of how much easier the process of making our films would have been, had we been able to study your beautiful exhibit while we were animating it.

I used a radial gradient to create the feeling of blue depth in the water of this painting. Then I used a semi-transparent series of greens and yellows to fill in the stag horn corals and sponges that make up the shapes of the middle ground of the painting. I saved redder and more opaque color for the sponges and brain coral in the fore ground of the painting. Some reddish brown calligraphic lines bring out the wrinkles of the brain coral. The whole painting was done in under 5 minutes.

I would like for people to know that protecting the wonders of the ocean inspire most of my personal artwork. I am interested in saving the oceans because they are the greatest potential resource to help humanity, and they are being polluted and wasted currently. I’m an animation professor who works with my wife on short films dedicated to protecting the ocean from environmental hazards. We jointly designed the osprey license plate for the Audubon Society and Save the Bay for the state of RI. The oceans are a magical place and my wife and I want to do what we can to help protect them. Our films have screened all around the world, teaching people about the problems with plastics in the ocean and the danger ocean acidification poses to the balance of marine life.

We found Brandon's pictures and captions on Facebook.

Elsa Senner
I am currently a student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. I grew up outside of Boston and have been going to the New England Aquarium since I was a child. The sea turtles and sea lions have always been my favorites.

Spending time in the waters of the north shore, Cape Cod, and Acadia National Park is a major part of my summers. I can’t get enough of the salt water when the weathers warm. But it strikes me how massive the oceans are and how much we rely on them (like how they cover the majority of the Earth and supply us with half of the oxygen in our atmosphere, etc.). The sea inspires most of my artwork, and I am currently working on a series of oil paintings depicting marine life.

With my painting “Myrtle”, I wanted the viewer to experience the enormity and grace that this sea creature possesses. I also hoped the viewer would perhaps relate to Myrtle, seeing her as an individual and almost human because that’s how I felt when I experienced this moment with her at the aquarium.

See Elsa's sea turtle painting on Facebook. See more of Elsa's work on Facebook and her website.

Ami De Lullo
I am an animator and have my bachelor's degree in Computer Animation from Ringling College of Art and Design. Being an animator brings me to constantly pay attention to the world around me so that I may bring characters to life. How animals think and move is incredibly interesting. These particular sketches were simply and very quickly done in ink, part of an Inktober challenge.

I love the New England Aquarium! The ocean is an ever changing world, one that is vastly different from our own terrestrial one. My favorites have to be the mammals that live between the worlds: the penguinsthe seals, the sea lions. They are just so appealing! Their movements are beautiful and tend to be comedic at the same time.

Ami's pictures of the penguins and the sea lions crossed our dash on Tumblr.

Candi Imming
Photography remains my first love, however I started painting animals shortly after I moved to Massachusetts from Nebraska. While I have taken art classes at museums, I never see myself as anything but an amateur who enjoys realizing her own ideas in paint.

The turtle held by gloved hands remains a favorite since 
it reminds me of the Aquarium team that cares for the turtles.

The New England Aquarium visits inspire my artistic efforts every time I go. The diversity and accessibility to see animals inspires photographs and later paintings. The ocean and its health need to remain a primary focus of humans. The Aquarium helps connect people to that fact, by reminding us of the inhabitants who live there every day. I also like to stay virtually connected through Facebook and the associated blogs, where I learn about ocean health and the impact on the inhabitants.

In high school, I wanted to study marine biology, especially dolphins, but I lived in Nebraska, not really close to an ocean. Eventually I did make it to Massachusetts, and the story of the cold stunned turtles really touched me. I never knew this happened and I remain impressed on how people help them recover. When the BP oil disaster happened, it struck me again how human beings continue to contaminate the ocean.

I painted the turtles, since I often wonder what happens to them after they return to the sea, even though I do know some get tracked for awhile. The Aquarium takes such care with them to help them recover. Human beings place so many things in the ocean, a finite space, that can hurt them.  We must do better and not remain a selfish species. The Aquarium and other groups provide a brief respite, but the rest of us need to step up and immensely improve.

Candi shared her pictures with us on Facebook.

Chris Garby
I have no formal background in art. I simply started sketching wildlife on my Amtrak commute between New Hampshire and Boston. I use photographs for my wildlife studies. My favorite artist is the US Fish and Wildlife Service artist, Bob Hines. The ocean inspires me in the sketches I do and in my everyday work. My actual job is with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.  I'm the finance / budget manager but have been fortunate enough to be part of the science staff on three ocean research surveys.

The sketch was done from a Boston Globe article so not sure this applies. This is a simple sketch done in fine pencil, pen, and colored pencil. I'm inspired by nature and hope my sketches bring that across.

Here's a link to Chris' charming sketch of Kit the fur seal from Twitter, which we shared on Tumblr.

Have you been inspired by the animals and exhibits at the Aquarium, or a trip to the shore? We'd love to see your work! Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Google+

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I love your post as well as awesome arts. As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly a technological rather than a social affair, the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable means of insight into the real direction of our own collective purposes. thanks a lot!
    Best Wishes-
    Tina West


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