Years ago I set out to paint closeups in nature, thinking that many small and mundane things were beautiful beyond the usual flowers. I painted stones and driftwood, caterpillars and milkweed pods, starfish and seaweed. Thirty years later, I am confident in those ideas. Nature is beautiful on all scales.
I found these shells on Rarawa Beach, North Island, New Zealand. These tiny shells were nestled between dark volcanic rocks near a beach thrashed by eons of ocean passion. The rocks, though sharp and jagged to feet and boats, protected the shells there like a colourful treasure to be found. The beach nearby revealed no clues of the complex, colourful content of its’ sands. As I worked to recreate the vibrant colours in the shells, I wondered how the mollusks themselves selected the right minerals that would suit their genetics. I wonder if my pigments contain some of those same minerals.
“Treasures” Watercolour, 20” x 14” , 2022, Elizabeth Gilbert
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