Painting native oysters

I’ve been painting and sketching native oysters, Ostrea edulis.  I buy them from oyster fishermen at Mylor in Cornwall near Falmouth. It was bitterly cold then and it’s pretty cold now.

_DSC4569 Detail of sketch of native oysters © 2016 Catherine Forshall

It takes a long time to establish a native oyster bed. They were a major source of cheap food. In 1851, for example, a round 500 million oysters were sold through Billingsgate. Our oyster beds were destroyed by a series of cold winters, surely not the first though, in the mid 20th Century, and then pollution, the parasite, Bonnania Ostrea, the beastly slipper limpets and oyster drills which drill holes into them and eat it contents, they are a big threat for commercial oyster farms.

Painting Native Oysters

Now they can only be collected under license in Scotland.

Sketching Native Oysters

Oysters change back and forth from female to male according to the temperature of the water. You get in the bath nice and hot, go to sleep, and wake up in cold water, surprisingly different. Well, surprising the first time, but native oysters can live for 20 years so they may get used to it.

Native Oysters

Native Oysters, acrylic on canvas 50 cms x 100 cms

You can see my work in London at the The Flying Colours Gallery and at Oliver Contemporary

All photographs by James Forshall

Spindrift

I’ve just completed this painting of oyster shells.

Spindrift

They are the shells of the Pacific oyster and they are on the way to the Moncrieff- Bray Gallery, which will take them to the 20/21 International Art Fair at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU, running from the 14 – 17th May 2015.

Photograph by James Forshall

Low Tide

I’ve been working on a large canvas of sea shells

Sea painting, shells, sea shells, marine painting, hand and brush painting sea shells on canvas

 

Detail, Lutaria Lutaria, Otter shell from painting 'Low Tide' by Catherine Forshall

 

My pallet, pallet of Catherine Forshall for painting of 'Low Tide'

This is my palette.  I use anything to hand: a piece of old card board, a used envelope, or in this case a pad of lined refill paper.  I do have a proper palette but I find it a bit heavy. In this case I used the palette for mixing paint but also to display the shells which I am using as reference.

Catherine Forshall painting, holding a brush in one hand and

Collection of objects used by Catherine Forshall in painting of 'Vortex' and 'Low Tide'

This is a collection of objects which I have used while painting ‘Low Tide’ and another recent painting, ‘Vortex’, the kind of things you’d find on the tide line, bottles, bit’s of bamboo, a yoghurt pot, a dead fish, seashells, a bit of old newspaper but all tidied, compressed into this rectangle after work. The liquid in the glass is diluted ink.

All photographs © James Forshall

 

 

Mussels

mussel shell, shell of Mytilus Edulis, painting of detail of mussel shells, acrylic on canvas, painting by Catherine Forshall I am preparing a few paintings for the Moncrief-Bray Gallery, Petworth.  This one, as you can see, is of Mussels (Mytilus Edulis).  I’ve always loved them, for the colour of their shells and their succulent, richly scented, golden flesh. As children we would gather them at low tide, wrenching them off the shining black rocks to fry them in butter.Hand holding a mussel shell above a painting of detail of mussel shells beside a paper pallet of paint It is thought that Mussels have been cultivated for 800 years. In Scotland prehistoric settlements can be identified by the piles of mussels shells beside them. Mussels feed on plankton and to do this, these little creatures filter up to 65 litres of water a day. Their mortal enemy is the unattractively named dog whelk which bores a hole in their shell in order to suck out the soft body, which may be greedy and unkind, but can you blame them? Their prey are full of minerals and protein, but with less fat than beef. If I had to come back as a shellfish I’d be a dog whelk. Mussels, Mussel shells, shelfish, painting of mussels in acrylic on canvas by Catherine Forshall, Mytilus Edulis The painting will be on show at 20/21 Art Fair with the Moncrieff-Bray Gallery at the Royal College of Art 14th to 17th May.

All photographs © James Forshall

Mussels

I love mussels, the blue of the outer shell,  as dark as a night without stars, and then the inside shading from inky blue to pearl grey, and the surprise of the golden body, as plump as your thumb and the colour of saffron.

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I love painting mussels. I love eating them too.  I’m preparing a large painting of mussels.  The ones I’m sketching came from Gibson’s Plaice in Exter, and he gets them from Exmouth Mussels, a sustainable musselery.  I sketched them and then we ate them. Yes I know. That’s a ruthless way for an artist to treat her models. James says that it’s lucky I don’t paint nudes.

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003Photography by www.jamesforshallphotography.com

My sketch book is made by Sollas Bookbinding at www.sollasbooks.com on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.  I think the covers designed by Sollas reflect much of that beautiful and romantic island.