Every 60 seconds on average 200 sharks are lost from our oceans due to human impact. My mission for the 200 sharks project is to raise awareness about the incredible and venerable species before it is too late. Collecting a library of my own stories, photographs and paintings to highlight the beauty of each individual shark I dive with and capture. I want to illustrate that sharks are not mindless killers but complex, intelligent beings who are more than just a set of jaws. Hunting is only a very small part of the sharks life, new discoveries are showing a new side to their character. They have an intricate social life, complex courtship rituals, surprising ways of bringing up their young, intelligent ways of catching their prey, extraordinary powers of navigation and symbiotic relationships with the most unique creatures, even with us. Not to mention they come in the most beautiful different shapes, colours and sizes: there is more to them that meets the eye. There are over 500 species of sharks, but the shark family tree has two branches. The other half of the family is the Rays, these are flattened sharks, who share the same flexible cartilage skelton as the sharks. Many still have the tail tale dorsal fin but their pectoral fins have developed into enormous wings, some glide on ocean currents, whilst others fly by moving their wings in a wave like motion. Diving with Manta Rays in Komodo last year inspired me to include these amazing creatures into the project.
The more I dive with sharks and rays the more passionate and curious I become about them. This curiosity inspired my project and is why one of my aims is to dive with each shark and ray I paint. Only when you have dived with the creature can you truly communicate and paint it. A photo can’t capture the spirit, personality and feeling that you get when you are sharing the waters with these intelligent beings. The golden blue shimmer that is painted along the back of a blue shark, the sliver glow that bounces off a scalloped hammerhead in the blue and the feeling you get when a shark or ray stares directly into your eyes is something you just can’t capture. This is why diving and painting for me comes hand in hand. For me to paint I need emotion and diving allows me to experience all the senses which combined with my own photos, videos and memories provides the perfect potion for creating meaningful art.
W o r k i n p r o g r e s s . . .
This painting is inspired by the shark filled diving in Cocos Island, Costa Rica where 50 plus whitetip reef sharks in one scene is a normal event. I had never seen so many white tip reef sharks in my life and compared to the shy ones I am used to diving with in Indonesia, the ones found in here have no fear towards divers. I was inspired by the feeding and mating events that can found at night. A ball filled with sharks feeding, biting and mating. An energetic scene with each shark holding his and her own personality and character. I have also focused on exaggerating the purple and blues within the sharks to add more magic.
You can view my Photography here...