Sea Turtles and Fish at the Maritime Aquarium

This sketch was done in an 8.5x5.5" Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook. The page border and background were prepared in advance, using diluted acrylic paints, including some iridescent and interference colors, giving the page some shimmer. The sketch itself was then done on location, using a Kaweco EF fountain pen filled with Noodler's Midnight Blue ink, and washed a bit in areas with a waterbrush. Then I pulled out my little pan watercolor set to add a bit of warm color to the turtles. The color on the small text is Iroshizuku Kon-Peki, written with a Platinum Preppy 0.5 (medium) pen. It's a gorgeous turquoise that displays fabulous shading variations in the lines. I got a sample of it, and now that I've tried it, if it weren't $28, I'd get a bottle of it for sure! The page title was written with a Sharpie Calligraphy marker. I bought a couple of multi-color packs of those on an errand to an office supply store with my husband. They come in really handy for those times when I need a special color that I don't have inked up in a wide-nibbed pen. The turquoise seemed perfect for this page spread.

Well, let me tell ya, these turtles are just fascinated by sketching materials! There were three of them in the huge tank, and they swam back and forth and back and forth in front of me the entire time I was sketching. That doesn't make them good models however; they weren't still for even an instant. In fact, every photo I took at the aquarium is blurry from the motion of the creatures, except for the ones that were dead and stuffed!

So, I did the best I could. I decided to make one turtle going in each direction. That way, I could try to add a line to one or the other whenever one swam by me. It was a great challenge! They were so personable that I probably would have been very happy just staying there and sketching the turtles and fish in that one tank all day. As usual, I got the sketching/color done on location, then filled in the text after I got home.

I really love the way the scumbled background turned out on this page. I want to set up more pages like this one!


  1. WOW, Jamie, love this spread...

  2. Kate, thank you so very much! Lots more coming from the aquarium as I get them photographed and loaded up over the next several days!

  3. I'm with Kate. I love this. All creatures great and small are my favourite subjects. I love how you dealt with drawing the overactive turtles. The painting of the huge turtle is terrific. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work from the aquarium!