Marvels from the Ocean

Posted by Sarah Jane Humphrey on

The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

- Jacques Cousteau

Where it all began

My earliest experience in the water was at 6 weeks old when my Mum took me for my first swim, ever since the love for all things in or on the water have held a safe place in my heart.

I can remember quite vividly a rare day off school feeling poorly and watching tv on the sofa, where back in the eighties choices were limited, perhaps making the programmes much more memorable. I distinctly recall the discovery of a Jacques Cousteau series of undersea adventures. Filmed from the boat and probably some of the first televised captures of this magical world. Just the thought of this sea life existing, alongside bowls of chicken noodle soup was probably enough to have got me through a week of chicken pox. The cinematic 1960's style music, and curious discoveries made on his adventures were so exciting and further deepened my love for the sea.

Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau


The Queen of the Ocean

Over the years this love grew and grew and I always felt connections to being in the water or learning about the marine life. Two or three times a year we would visit my Grandpa, in his beautiful house down a leafy lane in Surrey. The small bedroom in which I usually slept in, amongst other things had a shelf of National Geographic magazines. There wasn't any children's things in this room but the magazines always had interesting pictures and articles, and I used to feel quite grown up looking at them. There was one that definitely stood out which was Vol.155, no. 4. This had a big article entitled 'The trouble with dolphins'with a memorable front cover photograph of marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle kneeling by the side of a coral reef and reaching out to a dolphin.

Years later at university I referred back to this article for several illustration briefs. Dr. Sylvia Earle, also known endearingly as 'Her Deepness', and is an absolute force of pioneering underwater quests and research. She has made some fascinating documentaries and recently I was lucky to attend a talk with her held by the Natural History Museum, where she spoke candidly of her concerns and also huge knowledge of the ocean and things to be done to counter climate change. Something which I have an interest in and have come to research further through out the past 20 years or so of illustrating seaweeds. 


Sea swimmer

Bringing Light

I have only briefly touched the tip of the iceberg as it were, with a limited amount of time into researching such a complex and diverse subject of ocean preservation. However what I am trying to achieve through each painting is an ornate capture of light as I see it glowing through the seaweed when I am swimming and and diving under the water. Trying desperately hard to enthuse the love and imagination from those viewing my paintings to have not only an awareness for these slimy and slippery sea plants but also a curiosity to delve deeper into their extraordinary capabilities. 

Seaweed could be an exciting solution to help mitigate climate change. Seaweed can absorb as much as 5 times as much carbon compared to that of trees, and beyond that research shows that it can also be used to produce a sustainable food source, bio-plastic material and maybe even fuel


Irish moss seaweed Illustration

Irish Moss, Chondrus crispus, Limited edition Print


The Seaweed Collection

You will notice in each of my illustrations I have explored the effect of light either glowing through the seaweed fronds or reflecting from its shiny surfaces. This was something hugely important for me to replicate through my art. Prior to creating the Seaweed Collection all other illustrations and pressed seaweed that I could find appeared dull in colour and almost with a sad loss of life and movement. I do enjoy myself enjoy pressing seaweed, and do so to build a catalogue of reference to refer to; it is beautiful but ultimately no match for what can be achieved in watercolours.

Throughout this collection I have explored the possibilities of portraying an elegant movement and light using Sennelier watercolours, which offer such a superb degree of pigment and luminosity. As you look deeper into each illustration you can get lost in all of the details through twists and turns and unique textures that appear on each piece. You can learn more about my process on a previous blog, where I give an insight to the journey behind the creation of each Seaweed painting.


An exclusive opportunity to buy limited edition prints from my most recent seaweed paintings

There are now 3 new Limited Edition Seaweed prints that I have added to the collection, inspired by pieces I have collected from my local beach and bought back to the studio. They are the 'Irish Moss', 'Carrageenan Moss' and the 'Sea Oak' all of which make a fabulous addition to the collection.

There are now six Limited Edition prints in the collection available to purchase online and in our store, in two different sizes A4 and A3.


Seaweed Limited Edition prints

Most recent Limited edition Prints



I very much hope you will enjoy my unique artworks on your walls at home with as much pleasure as I have had painting them.


Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.