Tag: adventures in art

Danas turtle

Life Begins at Sea

Life Begins at Sea (c) Marika Reinke 2015
Life Begins at Sea (c) Marika Reinke 2015

Did you know that a baby sea turtle isn’t much bigger than a ping pong? And they are dark, almost black. From afar, they could be wet bark and then they move.  Amazing.  As they grow they stretch that layer thin and the green reveals itself.

Seeing one is witnessing a breathing miracle.  The one in Mexico was deadly persistent in its pursuit of the sea.  A wondrous role model.  Sadly, it didn’t make it.  There were many factors against the poor thing, including the crowd of tourists, the daylight, the gentle-ish yet inconsistent surf and the pelicans circling overhead.  The survival rate of a baby turtle is about 1% and humans contact lower these chances more.   Yes, we can kill them with our love.

It did not escape my daughter, Dana, that this was a and uncommon and momentous event.  She drew the experience and then steadily persisted that I paint her drawing.

Dana's drawing inspired by a baby sea turtle sighting in Mexico
Dana’s drawing inspired by a baby sea turtle sighting in Mexico

I’m grateful for sea turtle markings which are like an unique topographical map, and gave me some artistic freedom. Dana wanted a golden head. So gold she had it and though I was challenged by it, I’m thankful to not have to map that artistic decision.

Although I’m an abstract and illustrative artist sometimes I find myself struggling with the seen and seek permission to break through the literal. Why do I need permission? Why do I feel like my painting must look like what is? That makes me laugh. I insist there is much we don’t see. I’m very interested in making the invisible, visible. And yet, I struggle. It is a human bind.

Every choice is very deliberate in art making, even when it seems arbitrary. This turtle tested the balance between symbols, color, memory, relationships and art.  Because in part, it had to be a turtle as you and I know it while more fantastic to satisfy my child and the child in all of us.

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Dana’s Turtle Progress Report

Dana is happier with the turtles progress now. The water has pulled in the ideas she was exploring in her drawing. She notices this. She feels seen, she feels important. I have had a small moment of connection and motherly victory. I'll take what I can get. I get a lot of eye rolls and sighs these days too.

I also washed the head in some deep yellow because she suggested a golden head. I'm really going to have to think about the head now. I'll look at some pictures, but as I write some ideas are forming.

So much of painting is looking, studying, thinking. I often take long breaks and photos on my cell phone so I can just look. Before I had my studio, I used to prop my painting at at the end of the bed before I went to sleep, just to look at it and make decisions for my next painting session.

Her original drawing has a nest of eggs. She has told me not to include it now. Honestly, I'm glad to not include it, I knew it would be challenging to design. It will let me focus on the other elements more thoroughly. I think it will also reflect the experience of seeing the turtles more acurately. And in some way, that makes it more magical for me, and less scientific. Is that weird? The turtle just appears and we don't know where it comes from now.

For me, There is a point in painting, when a the painting goes from being a painting “of something” to a reflection of my viewpoint, where I and the painting merge. At this point I internally say “Now, this is me, now I'm heading somewhere,”. It is as if I and the painting are making our ways towards each other.


Ironically, often when I'm done, I laugh and think I must be a little insane. I don't mind being crazy as long as it makes me laugh.


The point is emerging, but I'm not there yet.