Life Between the Tides

“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.” —Rachel Carson, 1955

No visit to the rocky coast of Maine would be complete without exploring and sketching in the watery realm where land meets sea. Here, a fascinating world of plants and animals awaits discovery. Creatures of the Intertidal Zone are uniquely adapted to live both underwater and high and dry for hours each day as the tide rises and falls. Only the most hardy and adaptable survive – and they do it with remarkable tenacity.

Sketching conditions are a little challenging. I typically bring just sketchbook and a single pen (and, if I remember, a magnifying glass, shallow pan, and bandana to dry my hands after poking around in cold saltwater). A long scramble over slippery seaweed and barnacle laden rocks is required to reach the most diverse pools. I work fast, always mindful of the turn of the tide, and sketch species as I find them, building out the page as I go. Later, I add a wash of color. The end result not only captures species found, but records for me each moment of discovery while at the edge of the sea.

10 Comments on “Life Between the Tides

  1. This is so delightful. Your sketching is wonderful and I love the colors that you used! Thank you for posting!!!

  2. Super spread, Jean! I can only imagine that getting to those more diverse pools is half the fun.

  3. Hi Jean, I had a wonderful time at your workshops on Hog Island. The journal page looks so great! I should have asked you for a brief tutorial about the speckled look that you added to the background and crab. Do you try to block out the other areas? (Specifically talking about the mussel shell/seaweed sketch.) Thanks, Judy O.

    • Likewise Judy! What a great week! I used a stiff brush (about 1cm wide) for the spattered look (you can also use a toothbrush). Just put it in some paint and run your thumb over the edge to flick the paint onto the page. I didn’t try to block out other areas for this, but sometimes I do. If you want to control where it goes, you can put scraps of paper over areas you want to block, or cut out a piece of tracing paper and lay that over the page. Give it a go!

  4. Awesome pages, even more so that you managed to sketch them perched on some precarious, and no doubt uncomfortable, rocks at low tide. I especially like the little bit of shore-meets-water sketch in the lower corner. We just returned from a week on San Juan Island, Washington, where I did some tide-pooling but I did my sketching back at the house! 🙂

  5. Pingback: “The Edge of the Sea” | Slow Nature Fast City

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