Jen Richards

Wildlife artist

Sharks and Rays for 31 Days: The First Five


On Wednesday I began my fundraising challenge – creating art featuring a different shark or ray species every single day of July in support of Shark Advocates International – and in the last five days I’ve received so much support from you all that I’m really quite floored! It’s just so lovely to see such positive feedback early on in this project that it’s given me even more motivation to step up my game. And of course, knowing you’re all watching helps me keep accountable for reaching my goal!

Today marks the beginning of Discovery’s Shark Week so it’s a rather fitting time to take a look at the first five Sharks and Rays for 31 Days artworks and my reasons for choosing these species. I’ll be launching the first round of auctions later this week, so if you’ve got your eye on one of these pieces, you’re definitely going to want to follow me on social media! And if you can’t wait until the first auction to support Shark Advocates, you can donate directly to them any time you like.

01 - Oceanic whitetip shark

01 – Oceanic whitetip shark – Biro, white gel pen and white pencil on toned grey paper.

Oceanic whitetips are a longtime favourite of mine. I’ve always been in awe of their beauty, and two years ago I painted one in celebration of the big elasmobranch win at CITES CoP 16. Did you know that Jacques Cousteau referred to them as “Lord of the Long Hands”? I have to agree: those pectoral fins are something else.

02 - Lesser devil ray

02 – Lesser devil ray – Watercolour over sketch.

There’s just something mesmerising about a large school of mobulid rays. I created and posted this during the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission meeting that would decide on strengthening protections for several shark and ray species, notably mantas and mobulids. I’m happy to share that there’s good news on that front for the rays, but sadly there is still a lot more work to be done.

03 - Great hammerhead shark - acrylic on canvas

03 – Great hammerhead shark – Acrylic on 11 x 14 canvas.

Day three saw me complete the first full painting of the challenge. Hammerheads are absolutely iconic, and they don’t come bigger than the up-to-20-feet great hammerhead. I wanted to capture a couple of different angles with this one. Like other hammerheads, these guys have long been overexploited and their populations continue to decline, making them an Endangered species.

04 - Spotted eagle ray - Biro, white gel pen and white pencil.

04 – Spotted eagle ray – Biro, white gel pen and white pencil on toned grey paper.

Who doesn’t love a spotted eagle ray? I love this species for their unusual snouts that they use to find their benthic prey and thought the white pencil and pen would be a fun way to highlight those lovely spots. Sadly, though, they are a Near Threatened species.

05 - Atlantic sharpnose shark - Acrylics on 5 x 7 wood panel.

05 – Atlantic sharpnose shark – Acrylics on 5 x 7 wood panel.

If you’ve ever seen an Atlantic sharpnose, even just a photo, you know already how impossibly cute they are. I wanted to have a bit of fun with this one so I painted him on a small wood panel – something I’ve done before but find a challenge because of how differently the paint behaves. It was nice to show some support for one of the little guys!

So that’s 5 down, 26 more to go… and I’m looking forward to every single one. Please feel free to suggest some of your favourite species for me to include!


Author: Jen

6 thoughts on “Sharks and Rays for 31 Days: The First Five

  1. Love your work an I am very curious what will follow over the next days : thresher shark perhaps ???

  2. hi
    been reposting your paintings on tracc social media.
    how about sawfish
    leopard shark ( also called zebra Stegasoma)
    white tip reef shark
    leopard rays
    blue spot ribbontail ray

    and of course you need to do a tiger and a great white

  3. Great start! How about bowmouth guitarfish or torpedo ray?

  4. Hey Jen, Love what you are doing these days with your artwork. I have a suggestion, how about a bowmouth guitarfish . It is a shark wantabe, lol. It is actually in the ray family but it is very interesting looking. I saw that Robert Bateman was one of your favorite artist. I met him once and gave him a hard time for not painting more marine invertebrates . He said he would but his publisher suffered from the charismatic mega- vertebrate syndrome ,lol. Anyway have you ever seen any of Stanley Meltzoff artwork ? He is my favorite. He published a book of his artwork shortly before he pasted away. It was called,”Stanley Meltzoff, Picture Maker” . It is a masters class in painting underwater scenery. I highly recommend it . Anyway today YOU are my inspiration. I think 31 days of sharks and rays is great!!!!! Some day I would love to work on a project with you as far as raising awareness about these beautiful underwater animals. I was Senior Biologist at the National Aquarium in Baltimore for 12 years. I use to train the Giant Pacific Octopus to ring a bell for its food. I’ll have to tell you some of the stories I have working with the sharks and shark collecting out at Lewis Delaware. I have put my fairy godmother to hard work trying to keep me alive with all my near death experiences, but she has not failed me yet,lol. Anyway keep up the good work and drop me a line on facebook sometime. Stuart

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