Though this painting was inspired by the turtles we encountered in Hawaii and Australia, did you know that Wales holds the world record for the largest marine turtle ever found? No, neither did I. In 1988, a leatherback was found ashore measuring 2.5 m long, 2.5 m from flipper to flipper, and weighing over 900kg (that’s more than 140 stone)! I do love finding out surprising facts about my subjects, almost as much as I love paint them.
So many sea turtles are endangered with getting caught in fishing gear as one of the worst threats to these amazing and ancient marine animals. It’s also estimated that more than 50% of marine turtles have ingested plastic or other human rubbish – often mistaking it for food such as jellyfish.
Turtle habitats are being destroyed and put under threat. For example, 50% of the world’s coral reefs have been lost and the rest could disappear completely by 2050 if climate change remains unchecked.
I wanted to nod at the amazing indigenous art of Australia too without appropriating what is sacred to Aboriginal people. So I chose to use the dots in the background and the colours were inspired by the land.
This painting is produced using an intriguing technique which results in the woodblock print feel of the image. First it is painted in gouache, then coated with Indian ink. After that it is washed off under water to reveal the turtle. The water soluble gouache washes away and the ink stays put. I felt it gives a feeling of the age of the animals and landscape and I hope you agree.
This painting of the turtle was then mounted on a birch wood panel and waxed. It is strung ready to hang. The painting is 25x25cm