As the sun waned on the back garden of the Campbell House in Southern Pines,
my watercolor demonstration centered on the second of two seashells, a conch, I had painted from life and brought with me to complete. Instead of copying nature there, or copying the photographs of water encroaching on land, I let them both inspire me.
Only after it was all over did I visually comprehend how much the mood of the day and the freedom of several ideas for backgrounds had really worked in my subconscious.
My second conch showed off protrusions like castle turrets, and the mood of the shell was much subdued. The bright golds had turned amber, the sea blues had softened, the lavenders underscored the foamy spray playing over what seemed to me to be an abandoned castle. All the life it had formerly sheltered had moved on, and we were left with its regal form that had once sheltered the teeming life, as the sea roiled on without them inside. The sea played over its surface, mocking or rejoicing–or maybe even totally oblivious–I couldn’t tell which.