It’s not every day an editor needs illustrations of barnacles. It’s not every artist who could say, “Yes, I’ve drawn lots of barnacles.” So when an editor from PassageMaker Magazine contacted me so see if I might like to illustrate an article on barnacles and boats, how could I refuse? All those days I spent poking in low tide pools at the edge of the sea and sketching its inhabitants prepared me well for just such an assignment. It’s not every day that natural history, art, exploration, and financial reward come together for me in such a satisfying way. I’m really pleased that this turned out so well.

Barnacle study, 2011

Tips and Techniques– “Day after day, never fail to draw something which, however little it may be, will yet in the end be much,” advised Italian painter Cennino Cennini in 1390. Don’t wait for a grand subject for sketching practice. Look at the things around you and jump in. Even a lowly barnacle — small, ordinary, and ubiquitous — may prove more fascinating and beautiful than you realized.

37 Comments on “Barnacles!

  1. Hey, next time get on a plane, fly to Florida, come to my boat, and bring a guy to scrape some of the barnacles off while you draw and create your masterpiece.

  2. Awesome! What an unusual request! They chose the right person for the job!

  3. You can take the ordinary and make it special, pleasing to the eye and full of interest. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Amazing drawings and great article Jean. I used to antifoul boats using TBT – I think it’s the most dangerous product I have worked with. Would like to know more about the low drag effect of barnacles on whales – nature has the solutions – we just have to see ourselves as natural \ part of nature.

    • Thanks Lin! The trick here was to keep it loose on the opening spread, which can be surprisingly hard to do when you’re trying to do it! I wanted to convey some of the beauty of these creatures to an audience that is accustomed to hating them.

    • Get yourself to the rocky coast, Michael, and take another look (or just head to YouTube and watch a video of barnacles feeding). You’ll be sketching them before you know it!

  5. It’s so good to hear about the way this came together for you, Jean. I looked at the article, and not only does it look great on the website, but how terrific that your name is under every drawing and is an active link to your site! Nice. Hooray for barnacles.

  6. These are great! Your story also reminds me of Stephen Hillenburg, the animator who created SpongeBob SquarePants, who used to love watching and sketching marine life on the beach so much that he ended up creating his show about the lives of sea creatures!

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