Eilat, Coral Reef Nature Reserve, August 1999


Under the sea, under the sea...it's the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

Under the sea, under the sea…it’s the Red Sea, in case you were wondering.

I was living on kibbutz in the south of Israel, and a guy that I liked took me to Eilat to go snorkeling. He had bought a waterproof disposable camera and he was determined to get his money’s worth. The results were unspectacular. The reef was crowded. I was sexually harassed in French while standing in line (my French was not sufficient to defend myself, but the guy I was with was a native speaker, and when he came back and saw what was happening, he cheerfully chased my offender off and stood a little bit taller afterward: “I called him ‘tu’ and he answered me with ‘vous,’ he said, a little bit dreamily, as he was a small guy and not used to coming out on top in those situations). The reef was, sadly, dead. No one else seemed to notice, but I’d seen enough nature documentaries to know a dead reef when I saw one. There were fish, but hardly any living corals and no anemones, sea stars, urchins, or any of the fine little creatures you expect around a reef. 

My friend wasn’t confident in his ability to take good pictures, so he gave me the camera, and I did my utmost, but the only really interesting shot on the roll was the last one I took underwater, as we were about to get out. Approaching the steps, we saw hundreds of these beautiful striped blue fish swimming around the legs of the people who were about to get in. It was a magical moment.

As for this drawing, I have mixed feelings about it. If I had another 10 hours to mess around with it, it would probably be as interesting as the original. The perspective is OK, but the light was crazy hard to work with, and capturing the light on the water nearly impossible. I managed to get something there by lining the brushstrokes up, but overall it’s too dark and heavy to really give the appearance of water on a sunny day. However, just completing the exercise taught me a lot, and analyzing the piece now helps me learn even more. I could definitely revisit this at a later date and smooth all the light and shadows out, even if the ripples and bubbles in the water are kind of hopeless from this perspective. 

The thing is, I tried to commit to this blog for the purpose of seeing things through. Otherwise, I’d probably just chuck this image, give it up as too hard and feel like I hadn’t done anything creative today. I might tell myself I’d finish it later and probably not follow through. Promising myself to post something new every day gives me the freedom to suck. I don’t think this picture sucks, per se. It’s just that my skill doesn’t match my vision, and I’m impatient, and learning new things feels new and unusual still after spending almost 30 years obsessively focusing on learning one skill.

So I guess this picture isn’t completely done, but it’s after midnight, so up it goes. 


4 thoughts on “Eilat, Coral Reef Nature Reserve, August 1999

  1. Daddy

    This is a truly beautiful piece of art. I love it even more than the blue dragon that used to hang in your bedroom and I loved that a lot. Will this be available on a tee shirt?

  2. Pingback: The Living Reef | qwertyvsdvorak

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