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I love sharing the story of how this cochlea painting came to be. I had been commissioned to create a print of the cochlea back in Lyon Road Art's early days. I went in half-cocked, without much of a plan, just to see what I could come up with. I don't think I even did any pre-sketching, just went right at it. I spent literally hours making these perfect, detailed little cilia, my head bent to the page long enough to get a cramp in my neck. But for some reason it just wasn't working. The painting felt amateur, the cilia looked clunky, and I couldn't find any life in the painting.
Sitting at the kitchen table with my husband, I realized that this was one that I would have to redo. Just to have fun, I told Marty, "watch me fully ruin this painting". I took out my fattest brush, completely saturated it with an intense orange-y brown, and started painting a big swirly curlicue. Then I dipped the brush in my brightest, boldest turquoise and did the same thing, laughing as I purposely tried to make a mess of things. (I know, doesn't sound that fun, but we had an infant and a two-year-old at home those days and we were starved for entertainment. Ruining paintings was apparently big fun in those sleep-deprived days.) Anyway, we went to bed.
When I saw the dried painting in the morning, I was shocked to find that once dried, I loved it. The bright, watery overlays gave it an oceany, fluid look—appropriate given that the cochlea is fluid-filled. Moreover, there was a freedom to it that reflected my just-have-fun mood at the time.
It was a good lesson, I think, in the nature of watercolor. When you let loose and let watercolor take the lead, when you don't try to overly control it or overwork it, it can reward you in the most unexpected ways.
The cochlea watercolor original watercolor can be found here. Enjoy!