Painting Clams! (watercolour) SOLD

30 March finds me painting rare fresh water mussels for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 30 years ago I painted 36 species of fresh water mussels for publication in the book by Arthur Clark, "Fresh Water Molluscs of Canada".  Painting them now makes me feel as if I've gone back in time!

I only have 8 illustrations to do this time, and over the years I have learned how to focus and drive myself to finish stages of an illustration within a given time. But even so, having someone read to me is a tremendous help. The gradual work of applying washes to build the iridescence of the pearly nacre and fine details of hinge teeth and growth lines requires only part of my brain, so if I have something interesting to listen to it keeps the rest of my mind still and patient, sort of anaesthetized, so that it doesn't interfere with the work.

Since this contract is brief but intense, Fred is doing all he can to keep me at the painting. He's reading aloud to me, making delicious soups, and keeping the kitchen fire burning under steaming pots of Maple sap on their way to becoming syrup. The book I've selected is Bernd Heinrich's "The Snoring Bird"- a biologist's family history through both world wars and beyond, from Poland to the USA - in many ways more exciting for us than the classic "Doctor Zhivago".

The watercolour I'm working on above is the Kidneyshell, Ptychobranchus fasciolaris, and the one to the left, photographed in progress, is Obovaria subrotunda, the Round Hickorynut.


  1. The problem here is that the interior of the shell is white, and full of subtle shapes, which must be rendered, while still looking white, on white paper.

  2. Replying to Fred's comment... This is a "problem" that Aleta has the solution to!

  3. Hi Aleta
    Congratulations on your "rush" commission. No task is too small for you, right?
    I have been enjoying your paintings and look forward with anticipation to see every addition whenever I receive "the" e-mail.
    You are a talent beyond compare!
    Your friend,

  4. You yourself know, David, that realizing talent takes a lot of hard work!
    Good to hear from you!

  5. Aleta,

    This painting is so clean, so austere. And so simple.

    I know those can be the most difficult to make.

    Cindy Deachman

  6. Thanks, Cindy! Yes, the combined imperatives of detail and subtlety can conflict if I don't plan very carefully how to marry them.


Post a Comment

What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?

Popular posts from this blog

Cooper Marsh Late August

White Water Lily

Little Marsh in Limerick