The variety of coloration in certain shells is really quite amazing. I was very interested in exploring these variations further this week and chose to look at my collection of Shark Eye’s. These snail shells are quite lovely. Their dark purple or blue whorls make the shells look like eyes, hence their name. These gastropods (my favorite type of mollusk) are related to Moon Snails and in fact, their other common name is the Atlantic Moon Snail. They have a beautiful shell that varies from light tan to dark blue or grey and range anywhere in between.
Shark Eye’s are commonly found during low tide and the swash zone because they live just off shore in shallow waters. Their eggs often form a ring that is mistaken for plastic debris called a “sand collar” which is actually a little jello-like when touched and breaks apart fairly easily – inside the form are thousands of little transparent pockets containing the snails eggs.
The shells also make great homes for hermit crabs so it is a good idea to be absolutely sure there aren’t any inhabitants before picking them up.
The lovely colors and textures made for some interesting challenges and experimentation with wet-into-wet techniques. I began with a good drawing of the shells and used some Winsor and Newton colorless masking fluid to protect the edges of the forms before going crazy in the negative space. From there, I worked shell by shell and had then refined the background a little more.
The final work turned out better than I’d expected after having some major issues with inconsistent sizing expansion on the paper I was using. In the end, I had to wet the back of the paper and allow it to even out a bit more once dry under a stack of books. The watercolor sketchbook I’m working in isn’t really designed for such highly wet techniques. The final work is around 5.75 x 7.25 inches.