Pepper Shrimp #3


Oil on canvas, 24″ x 24″

Take 3 for the Pepper Shrimp: a night in the fridge had these fellas ready for a final shot at being painted, but as there were only three shrimp to work from I quickly painted two on the plate and one beside it, and then took the two off the plate, put them beneath it and painted again. It was a ferocious painting session as once again the ants came in their swarms, and the sun I had them placed in for the light was moving towards the horizon quickly, changing the highlights and shadow shapes; I hadn’t much time to make the most of it being ‘live’. Before the session was over I took photos, and then continued with them over the next few days to finish what was started.

I thought that by placing the plate with these shrimp they would look more like food and less like little monsters. I hope it worked….This plate has a history. Being enamel and with a slightly convex base, it could spin, and when my girls were little  would take it in turns (after serious negotiations and occasional tears) to eat their dinner off, spinning it throughout the meal with great delight.

The brushwork became quite thick and suggestive on this piece, which I’m glad for, but it happened because I had to keep self-correcting as I wasn’t drawing it properly – I enjoyed seeing the paint build up in abstract layers, and like the surface of it now. Oil paint is so forgiving. No more little critters for now though. Something without legs and a head with antennae makes for a more pleasing subject…


Pepper Shrimp


Oil on canvas, 8″ x 12″

I went on a cross- country journey last week, going the long way around from Kingston to Montego Bay, and so we passed through Middle Quarters, a junction deep in the heart of rural Jamaica. We pulled into the side of the road to decide which road to take, and were immediately flanked by a handful of women  who thrust bags of pepper shrimp in through the windows and demanded a sale. We happily complied, and they advised us on the best direction to take, and we parted ways, us with a bag of spicy river shrimp, a delicacy from that area alone, and they with a sale.

Delicious thought they are, they’re a bit messy to eat, especially in a car, so after enjoying one or two of them, my daughter put them in the igloo so their very pungent smell was contained, and so they would remain fresh enough for me to get them home…I had decided they’d make a great subject to study, and here is the result. This is one sitting, and the paint was wet and fluid so I had to stop. I think there are one or two little definitions to add and then they’re done. They are such lovely things, and their shells are so red, and their shapes so dramatic. And they taste amazing….