7 Ocean Artists Turning Sharks into Art

Madeline St Clair Baker

In the wake of shark week, we know that you might be missing your daily fix of shark action. Not to fear! We have sourced & interviewed seven beautiful artists from Instagram whose stunning shark paintings will not only blow your mind but enrich the soul and stir the heart. You’re welcome…

Kelly Quinn - @kellyofthewild

“I believe that when we see how incredible our planet is, we have all the motivation we need to make more sustainable choices, to live in balance with nature,” says Kelly Quinn, wildlife artist, co-founder of Paint for the Wild and artist in residence at the Florida Aquarium. Whether its watercolor, graphite, acrylic, digital painting or mixed media, Kelly’s gorgeous work blends impressionism and realism with a focus on vibrant color combinations to communicate her message about sharks.

Learning from a young age about the disconnect between her community and the surrounding wildlife, Kelly began to use art to shed light on these issues. “Once I learned about the [sharks’] problems, I realized I didn’t want to just talk about it and be a bystander, I wanted to jump in and do something about, starting with my art.”

Peter Simmons - @sneakepete

“I love to take it slow and go with the flow of the ocean rather than trying to control or conquer it.” Words of wisdom from father, grandfather, artist and surfer, Peter Simmons. Peter works with pen and ink, sculpture (“more of a carving than a building style”), and his newfound passion for pyrography (wood burning) to bring sharks to life, gleaming inspiration from his interactions and observations both in and out of the ocean.

Kayley Peters - @kayleystreasures

“I really like whale sharks and nurse sharks because they were the first sharks I saw in the wild!” Kayley Peter recalls of her favourite shark. “Whale Sharks are really fun to paint; their spotted pattern is so beautiful!”

Artist, avid scuba diver, underwater photographer and ocean-lover from New England, Kayley’s artwork is centered around the ocean and the animals that live there. From watercolor to acrylic, she incorporates a wide variety of objects from paper to glass and even to fabric. The ocean has been a source of inspiration for Kayley and you can see how beautifully this has translated into her work. “I hope that my artwork inspires others of the beauty and importance of sharks in our oceans.”

Snow Seychelle McCormick - @swimming_in_moonlight

“I love to freedive in the kelp forests, draw sea creatures and sip tea.” Meet Snow, a Pacific Northwest native, living on a tiny island surrounded by beautiful Orcas. Inspired by the beauty and grace of sharks, her work spans a range of mediums; from her stunning pen and ink drawings to water colour to the occasional woodwork.

Driven by a deep respect for sharks, Snow’s work aims to inspire people to see sharks with eyes of love. “I love Jacques Cousteau’s quote, ‘We protect what we love’. I think humans possess one super power, when we love something we become magnificent and amazing beings capable of unstoppable kindness.”

Cherilyn Ramsey - @stoked_creative

“The ocean has brought me so much happiness and purpose these past few years. I couldn’t help but to grasp that feeling that it gave me and put it on paper.” Meet Cherilyn, surfer, free diver, wakeboarder, snowboarder, volleyballer and artist. Originally from Florida but now living in New Zealand, Cherilyn creates beautiful hand drawn, black and white artwork using micron pens, watercolor and charcoal.

Angered by the negative attitudes and misconceptions of sharks, Cherilyn hopes that her work can inspire change. “I hope that my art helps to educate people on the critical state of our oceans, and the well-being of sharks.”

Blake Kanan - @creatively_blake

“I figured if I could make people see the beauty of a shark’s design, then maybe people would start seeing the animal as a piece of art, instead of a monster.” Blake Kanan recalls the time when he first started drawing sharks. “The assignment was to look at your paper as if it were a window, and my window was underwater with sharks swimming by.”

“I love sharks, and my sister is also an artist and loves sharks too.” Student, twin, and Florida native, Blake’s love of sharks runs in the family. Most of Blake’s work is in graphic art, logos, illustrations and graphics, but when he gets the time, his go to medium is acrylic paint or pen. His work is beautiful and his message poignant and powerful. “Don’t let fear get in the way of something beautiful.”

“Don’t let fear get in the way of something beautiful.”

Rachel Nutkins - @rachelnutkinsart

“I wish more people could see them the way we do, not as scary monsters to be hunted and feared but as an important part of our ecosystem that should be protected and treated with respect.” UK-based illustrator and artist, Rachel Nutkins, adores the ocean and all of its weird and wonderful creatures. Rachel’s work always features “a bit of sparkle”; her semi-realistic and brightly colorful style perfectly capturing the charismatic world of sharks (she even has a debut comic out now!).

Though swimming with the bronze whaler shark in New Zealand initiated her love for sharks, it was learning about public perceptions towards them that made her start translating them into art. “Learning more about how mistreated and misunderstood sharks are made me want to draw attention to them in my art and hopefully help spread awareness about them.”

If you’ve enjoyed this article from Madeline, follow her here @mads_ocean

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