As part of the Wildlife Trusts Undersea Art Award, awarded to me in 2015, I learnt to scuba dive and I produced a series of sketches and paintings from the experience. The resulting work was used to promote the marine conservation work of the Wildlife Trusts.
My dives were centred along the north-east coast of Northumberland, in or near a proposed new Marine Conservation Zone. Using special waterproof paper and an ordinary graphite pencil I was able to make direct drawings underwater. Immediately after a dive I would produce field paintings from memory while the colours were still fresh in my mind. From these I produced studio paintings.
Atlantic or grey seals are commonly found along this stretch of coast and were encountered on several occasions. They are very inquisitive and often come very close to divers, sometimes touching them with their flippers. A particular game they seem to enjoy is to playfully grab a swim fin with their teeth and tug the diver backwards, which can be a little disconcerting! I sketched these seals off St Mary's Island, just north of Newcastle.