Seaweed Orchin

The Story Behind the Painting

Well this is a different kind of a story as I’ve broken my own rules about only using my own photographs. I saw a sea urchin in seaweed on a friends instagram account (Charlottegannet). This was about 5 months ago and just loved it so much I asked her if I could try and paint it one day.

The location was close to Tarbat Ness Lighthouse, Scotland on one of her many kayaking trips, I believe.

My Painting Process

I thought that I would attempt another painting on black paper again but this time start with the background as my last attempt ended badly but fortunately it was recoverable.

You can never really tell from the undercoat whether a painting is going to end up being framed or in the rubbish bin.

When working with black card you really don’t need much paint to make your mark, unless its transparent yellow to paint a snake then you need a truck load.


After the undercoat I start painting some of the seaweed that looks like a cross between a burnt cherrie and bubble wrap.


After a few hours I started to get used to painting on black card again and was starting to like the results. The way that the seaweed was almost becoming three dimensional and I also loved the simple colour palette.


Most of the seaweed was a combination of earth colours, white and indigo blue to reduce shadows into the background.

This is what I posted on Instagram as a work in progress shot at the end of the first day and it seemed to confuse people as to what it was.


I couldn’t wait to start working on the sea urchin but I knew first that I must finish the background. I really like this painting, it seems to be well balanced with a good range of shadows mids and highlights.


So I finally got to work on the sea urchin and the undercoat looks like a tea cosy or the bag that my stepdad puts his car racing helmet in when he’s navigating for one of his Targa events.


Now the fun part of creating lots of dots for the bumps on the sea urchin.

I started painting large dots along the edge of the stripes from bottom to the top. Once I covered all the stripes I started again with smaller dots inbetween the large ones.

I was quite relaxing painting rows of dots but starting to make my eyes go a little funny.

Now to make things look a little more realistic I started to shape the dots with points towards the top of the urchin going up and the ones down the bottom facing down. Then the next pass I started to create some shadows on the dots and darken the stripes near the bottom of the urchin.

I also reworked some of the shadows under the urchin and extended the seaweed up to the urchin. One more final pass of white on the edges of the seaweed to give it a little more wet glistening look.

Overall I’m very happy with this painting and like the challenges of painting new subjects and really loving the black backgrounds, which I would have discovered if for not painting my cousin green tree snake.

I’ve just realised I haven’t added my trademark animal or bug into the painting, do you think I should add something small like a sea snail ?


Gouache Colour Palette

Gouache on Mi-Teintes Touch Paper

My painting come from my own experiences (apart from this one) that I have lived and photographed while traveling. By reading this blog, you as a viewer can now hear The Story Behind the Painting. Where, when, what was happening while I was photographing the wildlife.
If you want more details about my adventures checkout my travel blog website www.ChrisOsborneAdventures.wordpress.com 

Enjoy, Chris Osborne

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