Though I’m not sure I’ve ever thought much about my favorite shell, it might truly be a conch shell, but since I’ve painted that recently, I decided on a nautilus shell. These shells are beautiful on the exterior, but it’s the cross section that I find fascinating. It’s often used as an example of the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci spiral, yet it’s not quite a perfect match. Either way, the shape it creates is still a pleasingly balanced one that’s quite similar and something only nature could create. And drawn freehand, this one isn’t quite a perfect spiral, but it gets the general idea across. Leonardo Da Vinci, who was often inspired by nature, used the Golden Ratio in one of his most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa. This compositional structure can be found in countless drawings, paintings, and architecture throughout history, which I think makes it rather cool. So, even if I can’t quite pick a favorite, when it comes to shells, the nautilus is definitely at the top of the list.
This is the second time I’ve sketched a nautilus shell. The first time was a lesser seen version of the actual living creature. A rather alien looking thing indeed, but also equally intriguing in its own way. I realized that conch shells would probably qualify as my favorite because I’ve sketched three of them. Unfortunately, I don’t actually own a conch shell, and considered buying one (because you can literally find everything you think of on Amazon), but haven’t done so yet. I think the nautilus shell came to mind because I saw one in the window of an awesome shop next to where I work. It’s called Oracle, and is a natural science curiosities shop. I’ve never purchased anything there yet, but it’s such a unique and wonderful little place. It reminds me of when I was a kid and loving going to the natural history museum. My mother would always tell me that no matter where we visited I would turn it into a field trip. I was always curious to learn more about whatever I saw.
These days, not much has changed. It’s a wonder I was able to make this post as I got totally distracted looking up information on the golden ratio. That little kid who was never quite satisfied and always wanting to know more and more is alive and well within me still. It’s nice to know that curiosity hasn’t gone away. I think we should always remain curious and seeking to learn new things. The world is a vast and often confusing place, but filled with so many wonderful things. I know I’ll never been able to learn about everything that’s out there, but I get so excited to learn a little something new each and every day. For me, life will always be a field trip, just like when I was a kid. New things will always distract and excite me and that’s a pretty wonderful feeling. And that shiny thing that catches my eye in that very moment, becomes the most important thing of all. So, for today at least, this is most definitely my favorite shell.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Ultramarine Blue, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!