Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea depicts a daring ocean explorer searching the briny deep. The scene, with its bathtub toys and seashore treasures, evokes the elaborate make believe of a child enthralled by the secrets of the high seas.
The key to this piece is balance. Although I wanted the scene to look as if a child had staged it with their toys, the composition is anything but haphazard. The focal point is the diver, suspended “underwater”. Notice how the whale and shark point your eye to our intrepid aquatic explorer as he makes his way to the fishbowl below.
Depicted behind the scene is a chalkboard, with fish, an octopus, and kelp sketched in the background to set the stage. Notice how the top is drawn to look like light shining into the water from above. To achieve the chalky surface look, I drew on the painted background with white oil pastels, then erased, just like you would do with a real chalkboard.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was conceived when I found the diver action figure (an original, full-size G.I. Joe) in an antique shop in Phoenix. The doll reminded me of the nifty 1950s Japanese-made whale and 1960s shark stored in my studio - toys I had picked up antiquing, but had yet to paint.
From there, I combed antique stores for the crab and the boat and a pet store for the fishbowl and accessories. (Though I didn’t really want to have a goldfish, so this fellow was made from modeling clay, with details painted from photographs.)
If you like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I invite you to view the companion print, War of the Worlds , another image depicting a child’s homage to a science fiction tale.
You can see videos of the making of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on my YouTube channel: