sea turtle

Watercolor mouth painting of sea turtle


I spent some time looking at search results for “endangered species 2021.” I feel very sad at the thought of all the animals that the next generation of humans will never know. This month’s theme is “I will be tender toward weakness,” but not many of the “top” endangered species are ones that we think of as weak (elephants, leopards, tigers, etc.). I decided to paint a sea turtle. I found this image, along with a discussion of plastics pollution:

I read more about sea turtles:


– what attracts me to this image?

The way the sun shines through the turquoise water. The different textures in the turtle’s body.

– whites to save

the sun and sunrays and the top of the turtle’s left foreleg.

– painting strategy

Looking closely at the image in Photoshop, I notice that the underlying color of the body is yellow and the underlying color of the face is pink (with a line of yellow across the very top of the face. I’m thinking, therefore, that painting yellow and pink and attempting to show volume is a starting point. Then I can add purple to make the different textures.

I followed that strategy, painting the turtle’s body yellow and the head pink. I painted the water twice, saving white for the body of the sun and its rays. Then I added two different shades of purple and two strokes of reddish-brown. Each time I saw the turtle from a bit of a distance, I was pleased with how much it looks like a sea turtle, even though I wasn’t working in detail.

I hesitated over painting the mouth because it’s downturned corners might read as a frown. Still, painting some kind of smile would have felt wrong. Maybe she (the turtle) is filled with compassionate concern…


  • I’m pleased that I kept the style loose and used unexpected colors.
  • Leaving white did indeed capture the sunrays.
  • Perhaps I can make a small donation to an organization working to save sea turtles. I could make similar donations as I paint other creatures.
  • The sea turtle demonstrates some of the opposites I’ll be considering for the members’ newsletter: it’s soft on the inside and hard on the outside. It’s a strong swimmer, but weak due to its precarious existence.

Posted on

May 31, 2021


  1. Warren

    I really like the sea turtle — although wherever I move, he seems to be staring at me. He’s probably asking me, “So what have you done lately for us endangered species?” A good question. Wise of you to load that into your painting as well.


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