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Shell Painting Story

A shell original artwork by Carolyn Utigard Thomas
Original shell artwork by Carolyn Utigard Thomas
An original shell artwork by Carolyn Utigard Thomas

This series began as a response to my daughter, newly graduated with BFA from Texas A & M, Corpus Christi, asking if I would like to have some of her large, beautifully wrapped canvases.  She did not care about keeping any and volunteered to gesso over them if I was interested. 

Yes! Of course I wanted them.


When she handed them over I was thrilled. As I looked closer I saw that the surface had a huge amount of texture and I thought, Oh dear, I always use a very smooth technique with thinly glazed layers. This is not going to work for me.


Then a light bulb went on and I thought I could solve this problem by adding even MORE texture. Having beach-combed for many years, I had accumulated a good size collection of shells, driftwood, fish bones, etc. I could incorporate these and start a sea-related series.


I thought I had enough shells for the rest of my life, however, I used up a lot as I continued. Friends are now bringing me all sorts of beautiful additions. I also use broken or discarded jewelry, mirrors, feathers, sheet music, (need more), glitter, gel pens, etc. It's an ongoing adventure.


As canvases dwindled and I was still interested in pursuing this project, I wished to continue the recycling idea so I get my "new" canvases or backings from resale stores or generous friends. It just feels right and suits my frugal nature. 


I hope you enjoy these. They may inspire you to try something with a collection of something you want to recycle and share with the world. Tell me about it if you do!

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