Jen Richards

Wildlife artist


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Squid ink

Acrylics on 8 x 10 inch canvas board.

Acrylics on 8 x 10 inch canvas board.

This month I finished a small painting of a bigfin reef squid commissioned by a longtime friend of mine. She’s been obsessed with cephalopods since I’ve known her, so when she approached me and asked about designing her a squid tattoo I was both super thrilled and touched. Her request was for the piece to be realistic and I thought it’d be an added bonus if she got an original painting out of it too. Once the final sketch was approved, I painted the squid in acrylics on an 8 x 10 inch canvas board and scanned it in high resolution for her tattoo artist to use. She received the original a few days later, made the appointment, and… ta-daaaah!

I’m absolutely amazed at how perfectly Ed Weston at Custom Ink & Steel in Flint, Michigan recreated my painting on her arm, and I’m so happy she loves it so much! What a fun commission this was!


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Cephalopods!

Chambered nautilus sketch I did after finally seeing some in person in Monterey.

Chambered nautilus sketch I did after finally seeing some in person in Monterey.

It’s no secret that I love cephalopods. I’m particularly smitten with cuttlefish, but I find all species fascinating. How could you not? These invertebrates are mollusks – yes, like snails and clams – but their remarkable intelligence and diversity sets them apart. On one end of the scale size-wise you have the fingernail-sized pygmy squid (Idiosepius notoides) and on the other you’ve got the enormous colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni). In the middle of all that you’ll find the absolutely spectacular flamboyant cuttlefish (Metasepia pfefferi), who pack a lot of flashiness into their three-inch stature; the mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) who can imitate other sea creatures from a lionfish to a sea snake; the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) who boasts 90 tentacles… the list goes on. And on. They’re that awesome.

A lot of people have expressed their interest in a cephalopod-related design from me, which was lovely to hear because I’ve been planning on doing one for a while! I’m happy to finally share this fun little piece I created for my new shop. I’m a big fan of wanting better representation for the more unusual marine species on things like scarves and phone cases… and I’ve even put these little guys on skirts and leggings too! Hope you enjoy.

Now you can wear them! Be as cool as a flamboyant cuttlefish. Yeah, I said it.

Now you can wear them! Be as cool as a flamboyant cuttlefish. Yeah, I said it.


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Giant Pacific Octopus – Commission

Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24

Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of cephalopods, so when a good friend of mine asked if I’d be interested in doing a commission for his octopus-loving fiancée I jumped at the opportunity and spent a good chunk of my December working on this 18 x 24 acrylic painting. I really wanted to focus on the beauty of this species and add in some of my favourite details, like their simply gorgeous eyes and the fascinating double row of suckers on the arms. Did you know they can have up to 250 of those suckers per arm and can control them all independently because each arm has its own control system? Yeah, they’re awesome.

One of my favourite things about being an artist is seeing my work in people’s hands. Knowing that this octopus is now in its happy home with an owner who loves it is immensely rewarding for me, and Cat was certainly happy with her surprise!

Work in progress gallery:


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Pacific sea nettle

Pacific sea nettleI have a favour to ask of you: If you hear me saying “I know a quick little painting I could do! A jelly! How hard could THAT be?” please slap me and bring me to my senses. Because what was supposed to be a quick 8 x 10 study of a Pacific sea nettle seems to have taken me about a month and a half (in the little bits and pieces of time I’ve been able to make for painting around work and life stuff… I know, breaking my new year’s resolution dreadfully). It was very cute of me to think that it’d be simple. Painting an animal that is more Progressthan 95% water is actually a bit of a nightmare – the translucency was driving me nuts. I feel like I’ve learned a lot just from this, though, and of course it was fun to do another invertebrate.Progress

Pacific sea nettles, so common they’re a nuisance off the Oregon coast, caught my interest because of their colours. You have to love the bright oranges and those gorgeous patterns on the bell. Glad I didn’t opt for painting those ~12 foot long tentacles though.