Unit 2 – Lesson 4 -Shuvinai Ashoona and Ocean Creatures

In recent years sea creatures have figured prominently in Shuvinai’s work. They are often threatening, like the octopi are in Composition (Attack of the Tentacle Monsters), 2015.   Check out the large squid in Titanic, Nascopie, and Noah’s Ark,

In this large drawing, the bow of the Nascopie appears on the left. On the ship’s side the artist has written the names TitanicNascopie, and Noah’s Ark. The ship is chasing a large squid, which in turn is chasing four small fishing boats on the right. In the background is a highly detailed rocky landscape with the colours of summer. In the centre is a cave with a winged polar bear coming out it, growling at the passing squid, protecting her three young cubs in the cave behind her.


The scene leaves us wondering what exactly is the message of the picture is?  What is the meaning of the giant squid? Why is the ship in pursuit of the squid? Of particular interest is the ship itself: each of the three names of ships experienced an epic journey and a fateful end. Shuvinai’s reference to these three ships, adapted from movies she has seen and stories she has heard, suggest a catastrophic event. The work highlights Shuvinai’s tendency to take references from different eras and place them together, fusing the past, present, and the uncertain future in an imaginative context that also draws on memory and real life.

Shuvinai’s initial interest in sea creatures likely developed when she was a young girl clamming on the beach, fishing, and seeing large sea creatures such as whales, walruses, and narwhals on the beach for butchering. Her attraction to these images was further fuelled after watching movies such as Jaws (one of her favourites) on television. In 2015 when Shuvinai was in Toronto, she visited the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and was delighted by what she saw.8


Today I would like you to focus your practice of drawing  a sea creature.  Make several “studies” of the creature that you choose.  Draw it from different angles.  Draw it with shading and fine detail, as if you were a scientist studying its anatomy.  Study its colouring by Colouring it.

Most of you do not have the luxury of deep sea diving (that I know of) so I have attached a link to a video showing you 15 recently discovered sea creatures.   Marine biologists have the luxury of exploring our oceans and documenting their findings for us to witness.  Take a look at 15 new creatures recently “found” and select one that you are interested in studying visually.  Use the film as your reference for your drawings:

Or you can go to our own Vancouver Aquarium’s “live cams”  to watch Jelly fish, otters, and penguins.  The aquarium link is :


Scroll down their page to find the links to the live cams.

Make at least 5 different drawings of the creature that you choose.  The assignment marked out of   /15  – possible 3marks per drawing for inclusion of details, variety of poses, and realism shading/colouring.  Draw all drawings on one page of your sketchbook.  Here’s an example:


Write the name of the creature, and 2 fun facts about it.   This assignment will be marked out of 15 because the drawings are “studies” (5 drawings, 3 marks each) Email me  a photo of your full page with the facts by Wednesday.  I’ll post a new post then.

Have a great start to the week.

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