Whale watching from the window
I love the natural wonders around me but am most attracted to the sea and oceanic birds and marine mammals. Fortunately we live on a hill overlooking the entrance of the Wellington harbour. To the east the Rimutaka ranges disappear in to the sea, good for some superb mountain vistas (not sure I should say mountains but hey- I’m Dutch). To the south is Antarctica, with only a stretch of ocean between the icy world and my living room window. The southerlies frequently remind us of this by the sudden temperature drops once they arrive. So, with beauty on the doorstep, I regularly look outside to enjoy the view and frequently go out for walks. We have the spotting scope ready for anything big that moves under and above the surface. I often spot dolphins, albatrosses, gannets and lots of other seabirds. Last year when looking through the spotting scope my eye caught a large triangular shape that turned out to be the dorsal fin of a male orca. I also spotted a mother and baby orca swimming close by in Tarakena Bay. I rushed outside and spent a glorious afternoon as the orcas hung around for about 3 hours. I was transfixed with this experience and decided to dedicate an artwork to these beautiful creatures. Dr. Ingrid Visser from the Orca research Trust came to my aid and provided the photographic reference that I need as a realist. So after a few months Curiosity was born from charcoal and chalk on water coloured paper. She was ready for an exhibition in Thistle hall Wellington but unfortunately, the Covid 19 crisis struck. She is still happily waiting for exhibition in my studio.
After some struggle to find a suitable accompaniment for Curiosity, I recently started working on something new. I knew that it is the period of the year that whales travel from the Antarctic to the South Pacific breeding grounds and I found some reference materials of humpback whales. So I did a small study and prepared some paper with beautiful ultramarine blue background with a humpback whale, relaxing just beneath the surface. Two days after finishing this study I had one of my peeks out of the window and immediately knew there was something big out there. It was not too far from shore so even with the naked eye I could see something was going on. With the spotting scope, I could even more clearly see the disturbance in the water. And all of a sudden there it was: a humpback whale breaching right in the middle of my viewer, exposing 2/3 from its bulky body. I could see the long pectoral fins, the white underbelly and its’ distinctive head. Another humpback whale was somewhat further away and less active, and for a few minutes I could only see some movement below the surface and some big spouts. Then a tail was raised above the water surface and the magic was gone- off to warmer waters they went. But the smile is still on my face, thinking the whales where there to congratulate me on my excellent choice of subject: to be continued.