Underwater Plein Air Artwork

I’ve wanted to do underwater landscapes for some time now. I actually had thoughts of trying to make very believable Mer-art in underwater settings over 5 years ago. For a time I sketched fish I kept in my 10 gallon tank, but hadn’t taken matters much further until recently. An upcoming trip to Belize will be my first attempt at underwater Plein Air drawing.

It seems many adventures today start with a google search. I entered “Plein Air Underwater” and found the works of Bonnie (Bonn) Richardson. She shares her experience and some of her fine art at: http://www.bonnartlondon.com/home.php . In an email she explained, “I definitely draw very quickly when snorkeling as everything changes in seconds. I have learned to trust the body memory as I paint on shore afterwards.” After reading about Bonnie’s approach, I purchased a set of Koh-i-noor woodless color pencils and Yupo synthetic watercolor paper. I began to get excited over the prospect of a new snorkeling approach—art in the water! It seems when I make financial investments I am at a deeper level of commitment to a project.

But this project has become a bigger investment than I’d first expected. I started to wonder about my abilities to snorkel. I’ve never been a strong swimmer although I enjoy the water immensely. I thought, maybe I should practice? First I went to a local reservoir and found it a terribly experience—the area drought has been extensive and there was but a puddle of muddy water to muck around in (had to hose myself and my equipment off when I got home).

I decided to get some quality time in at the local Recreational Center. Sunday afternoons worked best as I often found I had the pool to myself. I snorkeled back and forth following lane lines up and down the pool. I have increased my distance and length of time underwater considerably over the past two months.

Thinking of the practicality of having drawing materials in the water, I decided to purchase a mesh sack through SakGear (https://www.skogakust.com/collections/coast) to pull with me as I swim. I think this will be a wise investment although I have yet to test the gear.

As I am very nearsighted, I also decided to look into getting a prescription snorkel mask. I contacted one company and had an estimate of almost $400 and figured it was too great of an expense. Then found https://www.getwetstore.com/ and entered my prescription into their lenses calculator. I got my new mask late last week and tested in just yesterday. My impression—wow! I can actually see the entire length of an Olympic size pool! The cost of $55 is, I think, a bargain.

In total my entire investment for this art adventure is close to $120. Not bad! I am hoping to have some pieces to share with you in a couple of weeks.

Stay tuned- Joe

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