Jen Richards

Wildlife artist

Sepia bandensis: A Love Story

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You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think cephalopods are fascinating creatures. Who doesn’t enjoy watching an octopus change colour, figure out a puzzle, or even just crawl across its habitat with its eight sinuous arms? I’d always been interested in this unusual group of animals, but something changed a couple of months ago when I was introduced to a species I hadn’t met before. At first I was excited to see them, and eagerly watched them feed and adjust to their new surroundings. Days later, I found myself wandering back to them and watching them a bit more. I took a few photos. And then I found myself making a point of going to see them. I started to film them going about their little lives. And then before I knew it, I was going to see them every chance I could, and waxing poetic about them to anyone who was interested.

And then I realised… I love dwarf cuttlefish.

I am truly enchanted by them. They aren’t the first cuttlefish species I’ve seen, but getting to spend time with these little guys and observing them interact with each other and grow has me absolutely smitten. Their mantle tends to measure only about 2.8 inches (7 cm) in length, but there’s a lot packed into this tiny package. They’ve got eight arms, two tentacles, three hearts, a beak, and absolutely fascinating eyes. And, like other cephalopods, they can rapidly change the colour and texture of their skin using chromatophores. So. Awesome.


Please excuse the bumpy start, but enjoy 46 seconds of cuteness.

charcoalcuttle02_wmI knew I had to paint one, but that presented a challenge. They’d shown me so many different behaviours and appearances I couldn’t settle on just one, so… I did three! I’ve had quite the busy year so far so I didn’t have much time to dedicate to painting, but I did begin to explore cuttlefish by doing some pencil sketches. I even ventured into using charcoal for the first time since secondary school! The variety of textures they can present on their bodies is amazing, so I wanted to have some fun with different mediums. When I finally found some time to start painting them, I kept the same mindset: I wanted to retain the joy I feel when I watch them in person, so I let loose with a bunch of different things. I used sponges, laid paint on thickly, and even flicked watered-down paint on them. It was a lot of fun! Each canvas measures only 5 x 7 inches. Here’s a closer look at each one:

 

If cephalopods are your thing, I hope you enjoyed this lengthy post! If this is your first time hearing about dwarf cuttlefish, I hope you’ve fallen for them too.

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Author: Jen

www.jenrichardsart.com

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