• Alexandra Verhoven

Nymph of Bioluminescence

Hello, hello, and welcome to my first blog post!

Today I wanted to talk about my newest piece, the Nymph of Bioluminescence. I feel like I have a lot to talk about with this piece so there’s no better time to start a blog! In this post I’ll be talking about the real life adventure that inspired this piece, as well as the process of creating it.

So let’s start with bioluminescence. Have you ever heard of it? Most people know it to the extent of they’ve seen the movie Avatar and there was a pretty glowing forest. But, I’m here to tell you today that it is a REAL THING that is found in nature. I’ve encountered many people who had no idea that this phenomenon existed in the natural world and their minds are BLOWN when I tell them it’s real!


I had the privilege of seeing it in person and I HIGHLY recommend it. It was one of THE most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing it is. And just like everything else amazing in nature, of course, it’s not a guarantee that it will be around forever.

There exists about seven bodies of water around the world that contain this magical, glowing, electric blue water. Most of which are located in and around the island of Puerto Rico. The most vivid of all is the one located on the island of Vieques, which is about an hour by boat off of the main land. This was the one my husband I journeyed to see. What causes the glow are tiny little plankton that light up when movement agitates them. These amazing little organisms are unfortunately dying off due to water pollution, and they are trying to be conserved. SAVE THE PLANKTON!

Seeing little sea creatures dart through the water and light up seemed to me like the highest form of magic that the world has to offer. So I wanted to try to create something that gave the same awe-inspiring, wonderstruck feeling I felt as I was seeing this with my very own eyes, and touching the water with my own hands.

So onto the painting! Like all my paintings, it started out as a thumbnail, and then a full drawing of the actual piece.

I transferred the drawing onto an Ampersand wooden panel with Red Oxide Pan Pastel smeared onto the back of a copy of the drawing. I then trace it over with a pencil, and seal the drawing with three layers of Golden Gac 100. Once this protective layer has dried, I flesh out the forms as a two-toned underpainting using Titanium White and Raw Umber. Just a disclaimer, I do not claim to have come up with anything original in this technique. I bow down to the old masters, and my contemporary inspiration, the great, the wonderful, the amazing, Annie Stegg Gerard. If you’ve never seen her work please head over to her Instagram and prepare to be amazed!

The rest of the painting consists of layers upon layers of color. The first 2 layers are mostly just me smacking general colors on with a dry brush. Don’t worry about clean lines or oversaturated colors, those will get resolved in later layers.

Details were then added after about two layers of color. In this stage I tend to vary a bit from the drawing depending on if I feel the composition is in need of a little something extra. You know, don’t be afraid to just add a happy little bush somewhere. That’s what Bob Ross always said, and I stand by it.

The last two layers are all about tweaking the colors and values. I did an entire glaze of Pthalo Blue over the painting to really tie the blue glow of the water together. The final layer is mostly Payne’s Grey and Titanium White, to further bring out shadows and highlights.

And voila! A painting!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! I’ll try to do as many as I can in the future. To see a timelapse of the underpainting of this piece check out my Instagram page! And if you're interested in adopting the original painting, or a print of this piece please visit my shop!

Has this piece inspired you to go see the Bioluminescent Bay? Let me know in the comments!

#bioluminescence #bioluminescent #artblog #artblogging

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