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One of our favorite things to do when we were sailing was swimming through the undersea gardens that lay hidden in the coves where we anchored. We would climb into our dinghy and row toward the rocks then dive overboard. My daughter and I would go one way with our net “goody bags,” and my husband and son would go the other way with their spear guns.

We’d spend hours just snorkeling and diving, watching and chasing fish, looking for shells and scallops, and just watching the marvelous show with all its colorful array of sea life. The coral beds waving in the current, the tiny shimmering schools of fish, the eels peeking out from dark caves,  the small reef sharks at the far edge of our vision watching us like guard dogs, the dazzling display of fractured light streaming down from above.

I tried to capture some of that in these paintings, especially the two abstracted scenes. I wanted to capture the feel of dazzling colors and shapes and not quite being able to identify what everything was because the scene moved and changed so quickly with the flowing current and water and darting sea life.


Here I drew in a few shapes, the fish at the center, and coral on either side. Then drew slanting wavy “light” lines crisscrossing each other all through the paper. I added some markings and stippling with oil pastel, then painted each fractured shape different colors.

In the end, the coral shape on the right looked more like a turtle so I went with that, adding an eye. Other shapes looked like fish or the tail of a sting ray, but they could be something else.  I liked this so much I painted a companion piece, something to keep it company.


This one features a sting ray as well as more fish and sea-weed, some planned, and some created through the fractured light lines.

I created a more traditional underwater sea scene too, as you can see in the first photo of all the gardens above. But the abstracted ones capture more of the “feel” of swimming through those landscapes, being overwhelmed by the color and beauty, and constantly surprised by what you find, and knowing that you are missing so much that still lies hidden from view.