Sea urchins and crab carcasses

The beach at Sanibel is known for its shells. In the past few weeks I’ve seen people wading in the shallow water, holding net bags and digging around in the sand with wire strainers. They must be pulling up some prize shells because many of them spend hours in the water, emerging only to reapply sunscreen or take a swig of beer.

I’ve drawn some of those pretty shells in the past, but on this visit I’ve been spending more time observing the dead creatures on the beach, probably because half of them end up in Alice’s mouth on our walks, and must be extracted before she swallows them. Of course we know why she’s attracted to these tangled piles of detritus — no doubt they smell so rotten and so good.

Today, I brought my sketchbook down to the beach with the intent of drawing some of them. This year there’s an abundance of sea urchins, as well as crab parts of all shapes and sizes. There’s something very satisfying about observing the minute details of these carcasses. Each one shares its beauty (and sometimes a strong smell too) as I hold it in one hand and draw it with the other.

16 Comments on “Sea urchins and crab carcasses”

  1. Sue Anne Bottomley says:

    Lovely, thank you. I agree it is good to look closely at small objects on the sand. Here are some sketches from my pages, Vancouver Island.

    Sue Anne

    Sent from my iPad



  2. joantav says:

    Nice job on the shells and carcasses of the sea creatures. I don’t think I’ve ever found a sea urchin at the beach, but I’ve found a nice variety of other things…some quite smelly.


  3. Emily Neel says:

    I feel as if I could reach down and pick them up-they really pop off the page! So pretty, these little sea creatures.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dineke says:

    Oh this is so lovely! And having grown up on the coast, reminds me of home,thank you for sharing.


  5. Kate O’Donnell says:

    Thank you for the wonder of all.


  6. Diane McDaniel says:



  7. Denise says:

    This is a fun post to look at! Little vignettes of creatures, different from the usual scenes you do, but equally fabulous.


  8. They’re gorgeous! I’m glad that I’m not the only one who picks up nature’s treasures.


  9. Now that’s my kind of page…and day at the beach. Beautifully done!


  10. Lm Wilt says:

    Wow, i thought you had placed them on your sketchbook, they look so real!


  11. Betsy says:

    Lovely, and so fresh! Did you use a limited palette? I’m curious about your shadow pigments, and the colors you used for the rosy-red urchins and the blue-and-vermilion crab claw.


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