“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.”
Lines from my favourite book tend to pop into my head whenever I’m watching our giant Pacific octopus working on whatever enrichment item she has her tentacles on. Sometimes the main theme from Jeff Wayne’s musical version starts playing in there too. Cephalopods really are remarkable animals and I’ve been meaning to paint one for a long time; their intelligence and quite alien appearance has me weirdly enthralled. Recently I watched ours open a network of opaque jars to get to the crab claws inside, and as she did so her skin colour and texture changed before my eyes – something I’d never been in the right place at the right time to see before. It was really something.
I’d started on this small 8 x 10 canvas several months ago, every now and again drifting back to it to slap on some base colours and “doodle” between larger pieces. I wanted to explore texture and colour a bit more, and a cephalopod seemed like the perfect subject, as the possibilities are nigh endless there. It was only in the last couple of weeks that I actually started to focus on it a bit more and decided to finish it. I wish the textures were more apparent in the scan, but it was fun to loosen up a bit in an attempt to paint something that wasn’t a smooth-skinned cetacean. Looking forward to improving further!