Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sea turtles

The Seris are an ethnic indigeous group of the Mexican state of Sonora. They were historically semi-nomadic hunters/gatherers who maintained an intimate relationship with the sea and land. Today they live in two villages on the edge of the Gulf of California. The songs of the Seri tell the stories of creation. This is part of the story of their sacred "relative", the sea turtle.
After the Great Flood, which covered the entire earth, the majestic sea turtle swam down in the ocean. With powerful strokes of her graceful flippers, the sea turtle swam deeper and deeper until she reached the bottom of the ocean.
There, she collected earth and swam back up to the surface where she formed new land.
That land is where we live today.
That is why the sea turtle is our sacred relative
To purchase any of the turtle paintings, email me at

Monday, December 22, 2008

Making it through the Christmas season

As much as I love Christmas and all that goes along with it, there is always that fleeting moment when I just wish it was all over with.

I used to be a visual merchandiser for large department stores, and every September, we would start putting up the Christmas trees, wreaths and garland all over the store despite the customers who would make it known very loudly that it was "just too early to be thinking about Christmas....its not even Halloween for pity sake !"
Then I took a job as a floral designer and again in September, along with making autumnal floral pieces, we would start our Christmas seasonal designs. So you can see that for years my holiday seasons would seemingly go on forever and ever !

Even though I felt I had Christmas up the ying-yang, I would always make sure at home that the tree was up and that my two sons participated in decorating the house and baking the cookies, and now I am thankful that I forced myself to do these things, because these traditions have now been passed on to my grandchildren. To see the look in their eyes when the tree is decorated and lit means the world to me.

I know that the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas can get very daunting at times. The shopping, the baking, the wrapping of presents, etc etc. Just take a deep breathe and know that somehow you will get it all done. Keep it all in perspective and don't bog yourself down with trivial tasks.

We must keep in mind what the real meaning of Christmas is: it is the celebration of the birth of our Lord; the love and coming together of family and friends.. Just for one magical day of the year, all seems right with the world. Remember the reason for the season.

Friday, December 19, 2008

White Christmas

Ok, who wished for a white Christmas this year?? Well, thanks to whomever that was, we got blasted last night with 14" of the fluffy white stuff.
Revved up the snowblower and dusted off the shovel and my husband and I had it all cleared off in about 2 hours time. I hear we are expecting a few more inches on Saturday and perhaps Sunday.

This should give Santa a good base to land on our roof.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Falling Behind

I know that I said I would have my Christmas Tree Worms painting revised soon, but I have fallen behind schedule.
(To the left is how I started the right is the new direction I am headed in).

Family matters and getting ready for the Florida Dive Show on Nov 15-16, and MPTV Channel 10 Holiday Art Fair, Milw., Wi on Nov 22-23 have put me behind.

Not legitimate excuses, I know, but its the only ones I can think of at the moment !!! Ha !
I had actually hoped to use the new painting as my Christmas card image this year. Maybe I'll just send my cards out after the new year instead !

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coming to an end

Summer is coming to an end and saying its last hoorahs. The leaves are changing colors. The days and nights are starting to get shorter and cooler. Its almost time to put away the shorts and tank tops and bring out the sweaters and gloves. Soups and casseroles are cold weather staples in our house, and I’m always trying out new recipes along with making my old favorites.

I too am coming to the end of my outdoor art shows and turning towards the indoor ‘holiday’ art fairs and scuba diving shows.
I will be heading to the West Palm Beach, Fl. Convention Center for the 4th annual Florida Dive Show on November 15 and 16, 2008. A week later, Nov. 22 and 23 is the MPTV Holiday Art show in Milwaukee, Wi. Then a few shows pending before going to Chicago,Il, for Our World Underwater in Feb. 2009.

I hope I see some of you at these shows. Please stop by and chat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Four Lakes Scuba Club

While I was manning my art booth at Our World Underwater scuba diving trade show in Chicago this past Feb., a business card was left in my “win a Turtle print” jar from a woman in Madison,Wi.
A few weeks after the show I received an email from her asking if I would like to be a guest speaker at one of their Four Lakes Scuba Club meetings to talk about how I combine my scuba diving and my art. Naturally I was flattered that someone thought my life story was of interest enough to talk to a group about it. On August 13 I made the two hour drive up to Madison and had a great time with the 20+ people who gathered to hear me talk. I showed them examples of my art and the sketchbooks that I use on my diving trips. I explained how I take underwater photographs, compose a painting and use either watercolor or oil paints on the decided subject. Being that the majority of them are also scuba divers, they could appreciate the beauty I see in the squirmy body of an octopus or the sweet face of an Angelfish.

An interesting question and answer session followed. It totally amazed me that what I think of my life as mundane and boring was fascinating to this group. I was very flattered.
I left them with a poem that I wrote and is posted on my Sept. 8th blog entry, “The Oceans Cry.”

I hope to see some of them when I am back in Chicago next February for the 39THAnnual Our World Underwater, the midwests largest consumer scuba diving trade show.

To purchase "Angel" or "Orange Octopus", email me at
These paintings can be seen on my website :

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Oceans Cry

Since so much of what I write about is the oceans, I wrote a poem about them and the way I feel about what we are doing to them.
It is a little lengthy, but worth the read, I think. I hope you will enjoy it.

The Oceans Cry

Don’t you hear the oceans cry?
Can’t you see them weep?
Their creatures are being infringed upon
In shallows and in deep.

Garbage and fuels are dumped in them
They’re clogging up the reefs
Ocean liners spill their oils
Into the abyss it seeps.

Hurricanes and tropical storms
Of these we cannot help,
But long lining and trawling
Are stirring up the kelp.

They drag along; these miles of line
The dolphins and the whales
Are trapped in them, they can’t get out
They try but only fail.

The sponges and the coral
Are bleached and almost dead,
The food supply is dwindling down
What will they eat instead?

The parrotfish are talking
They have so much to say,
Can’t someone save our oceans?
Can’t someone find a way?

The sharks are getting angry,
Their numbers are starting to droop,
They’re being caught and cut upon
Their fins are used for soup.

The turtles they are eating on
The plastic bags we throw,
They think they are munching jellyfish
But its actually a foe.

The octopus gets a somber look
And bows his head in sorrow.
“Please clean it up and make it right,
Don’t take away tomorrow.”

Our children and their children
They have to see the oceans.
The chemicals are ruining them
These ugly deadly potions.

We must not stop, we must not waste
A minute of our time.
The oceans cannot mend themselves
We have to stop this crime.

Don’t you hear the oceans cry?
Can’t you see them weep?
Their creatures are being infringed upon
In shallows and in deep.

Bonnielynn Brankey ©2007

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Website Up

The new website is officially up !!!

I'm sure that I will do some tweaking along the way, along with entering new paintings as I finish them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I;ve Fallen Behind

Ok, so I didn't get the new website up yet as promised.

I got very bogged down with last minute details getting ready for Gallery in the Garden that took place this past weekend in Woodstock, IL. It was a magnificent setting for artwork ! The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were many both Saturday and Sunday, and fun was had by all who attended.

I give a big round of applause to the two women and a son who worked so hard to ready their extensive gardens for this event. Part of the proceeds from sales went to Turning Point Abuse Center in McHenry County, IL.

I am still tweaking the new website........hang on, I'll get it done !

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Look for Website

I have been diligently working on a new look for my website of ocean art,
Along with a new tropical look than what I had before, the new site will have pages of Small Paintings, My Photos, and a few more surprises.
Navigation should be easier also.

The site should be online with the next week.............just proof reading and doing some tweaking.

I am very pleased with the outcome and I hope you are too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Matthew Scott Johnston: Diving a Dream

Matthew Johnston is a ventilator dependent man who decided he wanted to live his childhood dream and become a scuba diver. Despite physical afflictions, muscular dystrophy at an early age, Matt convinced his father and the scuba world that he was ready to see underwater what he has only been dreaming of.

Since I let my subscription to Scuba Diving magazine expire, I had not read this article nor heard about Matt before. I only happened across this video by mistake while on my friend, Pascal's, website.

Please click on this link and then on the Today show logo to see the video and on to see pictures of Matt underwater.

You do not have to be a scuba diver to appreciate what Matt has accomplished, .......just a caring human being.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Gallery in the Garden

July 26th and 27th is Gallery in the Garden . This is a show in the synthesis of art and nature in the solitude of a private garden in Woodstock, Il. I have been accepted as one of those artists and will mainly feature my underwater paintings, prints and notecards, although I will have my "Artistic Wanderings" works for sale also.
A percentage of the sales are donated to Turning Point.......a domestic violence program in the Woodstock, Il area.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mamma Sarah's Straw Market

As I mentioned in my May 8th blog entry, I am starting an Island Time series of paintings which will feature life on the islands I have visited in my scuba diving travels. I have already painted one I call Mamma Sarah's Straw Market and as promised, I have completed another view of the same market which is posted here and on my website under Newest Paintings.

Mamma Sarah Hutchinson is a 92 year old Bahamian woman who lives on Harbour Island, which lies about 100 miles east of Miami in the Bahamas chain. She runs a roadside straw market where she sells handmade straw hats, straw mats, straw bags, dolls and colorful fabrics. She doesn't open her stand herself much anymore because she says she has "the grouch in her foot."

Seeing the tiny colorful buildings on the less populated islands that I have visited, makes one wish, if just for a moment, that you too could live this simpler life. Picture this.....fewer cars, if any at all, no loud industry, no rushing from here to there, no palm pilots.........and the list goes on and on. Since this isn't possible for the majority of us, I hope that you can get a feeling for island life from my paintings.

Memorial weekend

While at our cabin in the northwoods of Wisconsin, I took a moment to bow my head and remembered to thank all the brave men and women who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces. They who have sacrificed their lives and they who came home safely to keep our country in the blessed freedom that we enjoy on a daily basis. Its a shame that we have only two days in the year to honor them.....Memorial Day and Veterans Day. It seems to me that we use these days as a time to celebrate the beginning and end of summer. We go boating, picnicing, camping etc, which is fine in itself, but we seem to have lost the real meaning of these two days.

I remember as being a child from a small Illinois town, always participating in the Memorial Day parade. As a Brownie and/or Girl Scout, I would march in our designated group following the American flag carried proudly by the veterans of our town. The parade would go down a spectator lined Main Street and end at the town park. As the National Anthem was played, the flag was hoisted for all to see. Heads were bowed and lips sang out the words. Then Taps was played by a lone trumpeter standing far from the crowd on the other side of the park. Men, women and children could be seen wiping their eyes. To this day, hearing Taps and the National Anthem still brings tears to my eyes.

Many male members of my family fought in various wars. I thank them, some from the grave, for the sacrifices they made for the right to be free in this great land we called America.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Island Time

I have been painting underwater fishes and critters for a few years now, thanks to the reference material I get from my Nikonos V underwater camera when I go on diving trips. I have also done a few pieces from some of the islands I have been to on these trips. I am going to now paint a series of Island Time paintings just for a little variety.

On my trip to Harbour Island back in 1998, I had done a painting called Mamma Sarah's Straw Market.

On starting this new island series, I have decided to start out with another view of the straw market, which is located at the north end of the island at the foot of Government Dock. I will post it here and on my website on completion.

I also plan on doing paintings from Fiji, Grand Cayman Island, Nassau, Saint Maarten, and Bonaire, so watch for them to be posted here on my website.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Great Channel 10 Auction

Today, Friday, 25 April, is the opening day of the Great Channel 10 Auction, which will run thru May 3.
Many great items are donated and auctioned off, with proceeds going to Channel 10/36 PBS stations. These are stations which have quality programming, such as Sesame Street, Nova, and many more.

I have donated 4 of my Ocean Colors Art prints to the auction in hopes to generate some bids and therefore, revenue for the stations.

I hope that everyone spends a little time watching the auction in the next 9 days, and that you find items you want to bid on............and bid high !!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My World Underwater.....a poem

This is a poem I had written a few years ago about my diving.

My World Underwater

As I drift weightlessly through the coral heads, my mind clears
Itself of the worries of my world.

Peace and quiet at last...with no sound to hear but my
Own breathing. My eyes are filled with all the rainbow colors
The ocean offers.

The prism of colors of the fish shine as they dart back and forth in as
Much wonder of me as I am of them.

Brilliant blue sea stars clings to coral.
Small puffs of sand rise in the water around a spotted moral eel poking
His head out of a crevice in the rocks to watch me as I pass by.

A Southern stingray floats gently like a hovering flying saucer along the

Barely disturbing the sand with his fluttering wings as he looks for his
next meal.

The long, silent shadow of a Caribbean reef shark can be seen eerily in

Slowly, methodically his tail sways through the water.

These are the pleasures my world underwater bring me
These are the memories I take home.

Bonnielynn Brankey (copyrighted 1997).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Last Friday, I spoke on the phone with a delightful woman that I had met at Our World Underwater in Chicago in February. She and her "side-kick", JD, were recruiting donars/donations for a fairly new organization called SUDS ....Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba. SUDS is based at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington,DC. and is designed to help improve the lives of injured soldiers returning from Irag and Afghanistan. By training the soldiers in a challenging and rewarding activity it can help the rehab process and promote mobility. It also offers the soldiers a sport that they can enjoy all of their lives.

They are having a fundraising event called Operation Bottom Time (OBT), to be held in Key Largo the week of May 17-24, 2008. Having completed their confined water training at Walter Reed, OBT will be focused on the completion of their open water certifications and introducing them to the diving community.

As I mentioned his name above, JD, a disabled soldier, stopped by my art booth to look at my work and to chat a while.We bumped into each other about 3 different times in the hotel within the next 2 days and always ended up chatting for at least 20 minutes. What a neat guy and so easy to fall into a conversation with. He will be one of the soldiers taking his open water certification at OBT.

I wish all the soldiers much luck with their certifications. I'm sure they will all pass with flying colors and will find scuba to be a new and exciting experience in their lives. Since I personally can't be there to cheer them on, I hope that my art donation to the silent auction will help support this wonderful organization and I hope that someday I will be able to meet some of them on one of my dive trips to thank them personally for the honorable ways they have served our great country.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Beautiful painting done

Well, ...........Winter was hanging on for so long and we FINALLY had a beautiful Spring weekend here in Southeastern Wisconsin. Instead of painting, I was outdoors starting the cleanup of the yard. As best I could anyway. The ground in our backyard has become a part of the swamp that is next to our lot, so it was too spongy and wet to do any raking of branches and leaves. The front yard was a little less wet, so raking was easier. I also started to cut the dead leaves on some of my perennials that didn't get done last Fall.
This time of year is always like a new breathe for me. Its exciting to clean out the flowers gardens of winters debris and see the plants poking their little heads out, welcoming the warmer days of Spring.
As Scarlet OHare would say, "Tomorrow is another day" another day is when I will get back into my studio and paint again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What's on the Easel??

Winter where I live just doesn't want to let go this year. I'm trying to brighten up these last dreary days by thinking about and painting the fishes that I see in the ocean on my dive trips.
I will have a new page up in the next few days on my website that will be called, "What's on the easel?"
It will be a sneak peek of art pieces in progress, so you can see what I'm doing. Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dots, Dots and more DOTS !!!!!

In June 2006, I was revisiting the beautiful Cayman Islands, not just for a fun in the sun diving vacation with the "Viking Women", but also for a chance to paint with the world -renowned artist, Ron Steven, aka Rogest.
On having seen our old friend Ron at Our World Underwater in Chicago, we were gently "persuaded" into signing up for his seven day Dive/Paint trip, being assured we would have a good time.
Our home for the week was Cobalt Coast Resort and Divetech dive shop in West Bay, Grand Cayman. From the time of our arrival until we departed, we were treated like royalty from the customer friendly staff. The owner of Cobalt graciously opened his 3rd story home up to us nine guests to use as a studio.
The cast of characters for the trip ranged from an elderly gentleman from Madison, Wi, with a witty sense of humor and much wisdom and knowledge to share and his gracious and sophisticated lady friend who managed to get a "zinger" in now and then; a couple from New Mexico who kept us in stitches with her infectious laugh and his dry sense of humor; a sweet and quiet lady from Denver who after a day or so showed us her alter ego; and my "Viking Women" friends....a passionate poet, a "princess" and a cautious banker.

After mornings of two wonderful dives off the Cayman walls, and a tasty lunch, we learned to paint with Rogest in his Australian aboriginal pointillist (dot) style with acrylic paints in bright Gaughin-like colors. This was exciting for me, since my own paintings are done with watercolor or oils and my murals with latex paint. Knowing how to paint was not a requirement and Rogest, with his boundless energy, made the learning process very easy and pleasant.
What started out as a daunting task to create a16"x20" canvas to actually look like a painting made solely of dots, ended in us creating nine wonderful paintings of underwater creatures! The laughter oozed out of the windows of that makeshift studio during our afternoon painting sessions. Wisecracks became the norm. After what seeming like painting millions of dots, we decided that we were going to need 'dot therapy', 'dotaholics anonymous', and hoped we wouldn't have post-dottum depression after going home !
In addition to the Rogest-style dot paintings, each of us contributed our palette knife "fish" on a 32"x40" canvas which turned into a huge abstract underwater scene that now hangs in the entry way of the resort.

The staff of the resort worked diligently to advertise an auction of our artwork that was held at Boatswain Turtle Farm to raise monies for environmental groups on the island. Rogest acted as auctioneer and sold all of our paintings for a profit of $1800.00. Our hearts and souls were poured into those little canvases and we were proud to donate the proceeds for a worthy cause. The environment needs all the hands it can get to help it along, if we want there to be something for future generations to enjoy, because "extinction is forever."

I came away from this dive trip with renewed friendships, a little part of each of my "new" friends to carry in my heart, a deeper appreciation for the environment, and a newfound energy for my own artwork .........which may just include a few DOTS !!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

People ask me, "Are you crazy??"

The 3 women that I regularly scuba dive with and I, (the Viking Women), will be taking a Shark School workshop with our friend, Dr. Erich Ritter in May 2008. Dr. Ritter gives these workshops in the Bahamas, South Africa and the Maldives. The purpose of the workshop is to focus on the behavior of sharks with a special emphasis on interacting with them.

We have dove many times with
sharks. In fact, when we schedule diving trips, we like to make sure that we are going where we will see sharks.

Dr. Erich Ritter is a shark behaviorist and the senior scientist of Green Marine. He has a PhD in Behavioral Ecology and his expertise is to work with sharks to try to find out what their body language means. His main interest is shark attacks and their causes. He has spent the last 8 years collecting data from the oceans around the world, but his primary focus is on bull sharks, lemon sharks and great whites.

If you have ever watch "
Shark Week" on Discovery channel, you have seen him. He, himself, was attacked by a female bull shark in Walkers Cay, Bahamas in 2002, while standing in 3 feet of water researching the sharks. The already frequently performed experiment was to show that sharks do not pay attention to people when there is food in the water. The water was murky that day and there were more than the usual amount of sharks gathered. As a chunk of food was thrown into the water, a remora (shark sucker) grabbed at the food and headed in Erich's direction. A bull shark snatched at the remora and caught Erich's left calf in the process. Although it took several hours of surgery to reattach the muscles, he will never have normal use of his leg. He forgave the shark and he clearly saw this as a case of mistaken identity in this situation.

Erich Ritter: "... there is no such thing as dangerous sharks, only dangerous situations. This fact must be made public... for the sake of the animals and our children... once mankind can get rid of its fear from sharks, then sharks can be protected... the over fishing and slaughtering of sharks is one of the biggest ecological time bombs of our time and the consequences will have a devastating effect - not just for nature but mankind as well... the conscious interaction with sharks is an important tool for their better understanding..."

I have a love for sharks that makes my family think I'm just plain crazy!! I like to lay on the ocean bottom with my camera and wait for the sharks to get close enough for me to get that "ultimate shot." (I'm still waiting for it). I guess you could say I'm a little too adventurous for my own good sometimes. But my love for sharks goes beyond the camera. I see a very real potential of our harming the balance of our oceans by allowing things like "finning" to happen.
Finning is a practice in certain countries and cultures that uses longlines in fishing to catch many sharks at once, bring them on board the fishing boats, remove and keep the fins and throw the rest of the carcass back into the sea. Shark meat is considered low value and of no purpose. The sharks are most often alive when they are tossed back in and not being able to swim, they sink to the bottom to die a miserable death. The fins are then transported back to market to be used mainly in shark fin soup. One pound of dried shark fin can retail for $300 or more, making it a multi-billion dollar industry. This practice has increased over the past decade, causing the shark population to dwindle yearly.

Practices like long-lining doesn't just affect the sharks, but sea turtles, dolphins and other bird and sea creatures who get caught in these lines.

The shark's only natural enemy is man. Man is destroying our oceans day by day, year by year. We have to be educated and aware and stop these barbaric practices, for the sake of, not only the sharks, but of our oceans.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My friend, Liz

My newest friend, Liz, whom I met through the Antioch Fine Art Foundation, is having a wonderful showing of her pressed botanicals at the Genoa City Library, Genoa City, Wi. She had a nice article published about her and her work, but her last name was spelled wrong in every mention of it! She is going crazy about this because for such a simple name as WANK, it seems it is never spelled right. But despite the misspelling, her work is beautiful. She grows her own flowers and makes her own paper to create delicate botanical artwork.
We talked yesterday, and she has been contacted by Ryan Garrett Fine Art Consulting in Cardiff, CA, about putting her pieces into a hotel in Utah !!! Way to go, Liz!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Our World Underwater Show a Success

Well, the weekend was, what I would call, a success for me at Our World Underwater consumer scuba dive show, Donald Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, Il.

I had a good booth spot, right on the corner near the concession area, so people sitting and eating/ drinking could view my work, and people walking to and from that area had to pass by me. I had a giveaway drawing of my TURTLE print, (people love freebies!), and a lovely lady in Muskego, WI. was the winner. She was thrilled.

I met many wonderful people........divers/non-divers. Had great feedback on my art; gathered information on what art divers want to see next in my work (whales, nudibranchs, etc), which I will take into consideration for my next paintings, got two possible commissions, and I made some sales.

It was a long weekend out on the "floor", but well worth it. I already have my booth reserved for Feb 20-22, 2009! Hope to see you there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Our World Underwater

I am furiously preparing to show my artwork in booth # 1011 at Our World Underwater, a scuba diving trade show, in Rosemont Il. The show runs from Friday, Febr. 15 thru Sunday, Febr 17.

There are many booths with scuba equipment, underwater cameras, resorts that offer diving packages, seminars on a multitude of dive relates subjects, a Saturday evening film festival, Scuba Radio will be broadcasting, Team Scuba Nascar will be there...........and so much more. It promises to be a great time!!

I will report on how the weekend was next week.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pink Ribbon Angelfish

I have added my Pink Ribbon Angelfish to my blog because I want to remind women to do self-exams and yearly mammograms as a way to maintain the delicate balance of our lives.
I have partnered with the
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Milwaukee Affiliate, through a written agreement that I may use their name on my website and any promotional materials I use.
Ten percent of the sales of my marine art is donated to them.
I have made the fight against breast cancer a personal battle. My daughter-in-law and niece are both battling this disease and I would like to see an advancement in breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment to someday eradicate it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Scuba diving and my art

Art has been something that has been a part of my life since childhood. I would fill up school notebooks with doodling and spend hours drawing objects around the house. I never had a formal art lesson until Senior year of high school, at which time I learned to use different mediums.........paints, pastels, charcoal. I continued to play with these mediums for years drawing and painting mostly landscapes, and then at the age of 37, I went to college and received a degree in fine art.

During that same time, I received my scuba certification which also took my art down a different avenue. On seeing the iridescent blues and greens of the Queen Angelfish, the brilliant yellows of a Butterfly Fish, and the purples, oranges, pinks and reds of sea fans, corals and sea stars, it reminded me of a child's scattered box of crayons and I knew that I had to get what I was seeing onto canvas.

My husband bought me a Nikonos V camera and I started to take tons of photos, not for their quality, but for reference. I always keep a sketchbook packed in with my diving equipment and on coming up from dives, I do quick ink sketches to keep myself refreshed of what I have just seen underwater. Back from my trips and in the comfort of my sun lit studio, I transfer my sketches and underwater photos into brilliantly colored watercolors or oil paintings. I don't paint in an Impressionistic, Realistic or Abstract style. I think of "style" as a relative term and I have developed one that allows me to "recreate" the underwater world as I see it in my mind.

I am an adventure seeker by nature. I like to invite challenge and conquest to my life. My marine art is a celebration of the sea. I hope to draw attention through my art to the health and survival of our oceans for future generations to enjoy. I hope that I can make a increasing awareness and education through my art the delicate balance that exists between our lives with that of the oceans.

Life is precious.......on land or under the sea.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Diving in the Bahamas

Water and being around it has always held a fascination for me since I was a child, but at the age of forty, what started out as something to do with my sons on a vacation to Grand Cayman, has now become a passion to me.

The sport of scuba diving has taken over my life, so to speak. No longer subscribing to Country Living and Good Housekeeping,
Scuba Diver and Diver Alert magazines now fill my mailbox. I ask for new diving and underwater photography equipment for birthdays and Christmas. I dream of my next destination for a dive trip, and am packed weeks in advance. On a dive trip, my underwater camera is always loaded with fresh film and new batteries in readiness for that "perfect" photo. I don't care if I am diving in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, the turbid Pacific Ocean or the forty degree lakes and quarries of my native state of Wisconsin. Just so I am diving !!!

On getting certified, I met on my first Bahamian trip, three other women divers. We have since become best of friends and have been dubbed by the other divers in our circle, the "Viking Women", for the mere fact that the four of us out dive everyone else on our trips, including the men. On a four day trip, it is not uncommon for us to get in 18 dives.

On this first Bahamian trip, the "Viking Women" chose the island of Providence, (its capital being Nassau). The resort is called Dive,Dive,Dive and is on a remote side of the island, away from the bright lights of the city. We have since returned there to dive because of the beautiful reefs on what is called the Tongue of the Ocean.....a crevice that reaches out into the Atlantic Ocean and drops to 6000 feet. But what really draws us there is the incredible shark diving.
For whatever reason, the population of
sharks is more abundant: Gray Reef, Caribbean Reef, Bull, Silky and an occasional Hammerhead. Despite what Hollywood has instilled into our psychics, sharks do not as a general rule attack people and use them as lunch. Sharks can be an aggressive animal, but if one is careful and does nothing to threaten them or their territory, then observing them can be a very pleasant experience. Their long streamlined silvery-gray bodies glide through the water in silence, and their elliptical unstaring eyes penetrate your very soul as they pass by you.

Diving on a shipwreck, such as the Bahama Mama with the sharks, makes for an unforgettable dive. The wreck looms up out of the abyss like a ghostly figure, and the silhouetted sharks add to the eeriness of the scene. Some of the shipwrecks in these waters are sunken cargo ships, rum-runners and Haitian escapee boats. Pirating is still alive and well in the Caribbean.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why I Scuba Dive

Inner Space. Underwater realm. The Lady. No mattter what name the ocean is given, it is an environment to be explored, enjoyed, but most of all...........respected.

It gives life and it takes it away. It is not an environment filled with stinging, biting, man-eating creatures as for years it was thought to be. It is a world plentiful with an abundant amount of diverse wildlife seeking food, mates and reproduction. Reef fish and animals pretty much ignore us or show mild curiosity, unlike terrestrial animals who avoid humans almost entirely.

Go to a pet store and look at all the fish tanks, especially the salt-water tanks. See all the hues of fish like colors of a rainbow. Or look through picture books about the oceans. Then close your eyes and imagine yourself swimming in a giant aquarium filled with brightly colored coral and fish. Feel the sense of floating as being neutrally buoyant lets you hover over a reef. The only sound that you hear in the silence is that of your own breathing. You are alone with your thoughts and comforted by the relaxing feeling that has taken over your body.
This is what it feels like to dive.

I am an adventurous person of sorts, which a touch of reckless abandon. I love to explore new things and after I became a certified scuba diver I found that there are different sensations underwater than topside and these different looks, sounds and feels are what make diving so special to me. Stroking the silky smooth belly of a passing stingray; trying to see how close I can get to a shark to snap a photo; ........these are ways I like to interact with my underwater surroundings. Putting aside the dry world that I come from and becoming part of this wet world, if only for a short time. Even the boat rides to and from the dive sites are a part of the experience for me: the time spent assembling my dive and camera equipment; joking with the other divers; the quiet time after the dives reflecting on what I have just seen and making notes in my journal to reread on a cold winter's day.

Diving is like when I sit and look at a beautiful sunset. I realize that there is truly someone bigger than man who has created this undersea beauty. It is like a carefully orchestrated symphony. All the fish are the notes and have a purpose in the whole of the piece.