Home‎ > ‎Gallery‎ > ‎

Water-Related Imagery and Inspiration

C A R O L  T A Y L O R  B L A C K  A N D  W H I T E . C O M  

d r a w i n g s ,   p a i n t i n g s  &  m o r e

Water-related Imagery and Inspiration

If you have been following my Art and Writings, you are aware that I love the water... all water bodies including streams, ponds, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and the ocean.  Even grey rainy days.  Growing up in the midwest, Michigan, I was able to experience all except the ocean.  Fortunately, the Pacific Ocean was on the agenda whenever we visited southern California and I vacationed on the Atlantic Ocean in Florida on several occasions.

The colorful stones and driftwood found along the shallow water and beaches of the Great Lakes, and the sea life and their shells found on the beaches of the ocean, are among my favorite things.  I also love fish.  

This page reflects beautiful water-related imagery, and inspiration for my work.

Feed My Fish

<div style="position: fixed; z-index: -999; top: 0; left: 0;">
<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" style="outline:none;" data="http://cdn.abowman.com/widgets/fish/fish.swf?up_fishColor9=F45540&up_backgroundImage=http://&up_fishColor5=F45540&up_fishColor4=F45540&up_fishColor10=F45540&up_fishColor1=F44079&up_fishColor3=F45540&up_fishColor6=F45540&up_foodColor=FCB347&up_fishColor2=F45540&up_fishName=Fish&up_backgroundColor=F0F7FF&up_fishColor8=F45540&up_fishColor7=F45540&up_numFish=5&" width="300" height="200"><param name="movie" value="http://cdn.abowman.com/widgets/fish/fish.swf?up_fishColor9=F45540&up_backgroundImage=http://&up_fishColor5=F45540&up_fishColor4=F45540&up_fishColor10=F45540&up_fishColor1=F44079&up_fishColor3=F45540&up_fishColor6=F45540&up_foodColor=FCB347&up_fishColor2=F45540&up_fishName=Fish&up_backgroundColor=F0F7FF&up_fishColor8=F45540&up_fishColor7=F45540&up_numFish=5&"></param><param name="AllowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><param name="wmode" value="opaque"></param><param name="scale" value="noscale"/><param name="salign" value="tl"/></object><*/div>

(Created by A. Bowman)


Musings of a Confirmed Beachcomber 

7 Days before the Hurricanes of 2004


In her book, Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh ponders several individual seashells, the channelled whelk, moon shell, double-sunrise, oyster shell, and the argonauta, each a unique representation of a phase of life.  My quest is to comb the seashore looking for that one perfect shell that would tell the entire story of life.

 The sea… a metaphor for life

Day 1:  I walk the beach this morning, listening to the roar of endless waves and aware of the protected sea oats swaying against the huge expanse of sky as I search for seashells.  Hungry grey and white birds scout for fish.  Swooping down from the cloudless blue sky to grasp a fish morsel firmly in their beaks, they make a quick U-turn and soar up above the crashing waves, satisfied for a brief moment.  They repeat and repeat this endless activity while the surfers below, young men of about 20, unaware of the fish hunting going on around them by birds large and small, continue their own repetitious paddling out toward the horizon on their slivers of laminated board.  Out just far enough that the waves are swelling, out where the chances of catching the big wave are greatest, they wait, stretching their lean, tan bodies out on the length of their surfboards.  The most impatient of them takes a wave only to be overturned in its crest, tumbling below the surface of the water, tumbling over and over until able to right himself and climb atop his surfboard once again, only to repeat this act over and over again.

The sea… a metaphor for life.  As the waves crash on the shore, then recede as the tide ebbs and flows, carrying shells to the beach then carrying them back into the sea, as the birds fly, swoop and dive, then fly again, as the young surfers paddle out to the deep only to catch a wave that will carry them in toward shore, then paddle out once more, so we carry out the daily routines of our lives.  Much of life is a repeat performance, however mundane.  The little moments are seldom cause for celebration.  We awaken at the sound of the all too familiar alarm clock, barely awake enough to firmly push the snooze button down for a few more uninterrupted winks before padding out to the kitchen for the morning cup of coffee.  The rituals continue, unchecked.  We shower, groom ourselves, dress, drive to the office, day after day, week after week.

Occasionally, the routine is interrupted:  The sea offers up a perfectly formed shell from its bounty, the surfer catches the biggest wave ever caught, the bird manages to grasp a fish in its beak that exceeds its appetite, and we break with our morning ritual to share our thoughts with a loved one, or leave for work earlier than usual to take a surface road that we know will enrich our spirits, if only for today.  Like the waves, the birds, the surfers, we will continue to repeat our routines tomorrow, though.  This is life.

The sea's bounty 

Day 2:  On this morning's walk along the beach, I find two small ivory colored shells, unbroken and intact.  Though blemished by being lived in, their ridges are uniform and precise, as though they had been sculpted by an artist, carefully molded and well-defined.

The handful of shells that I carefully place in my pocket and bring back home with me are not intact, but are pieces, some large and thick, others small and fragile, giving credence to the various creatures that have called them "home."  The thickest of them would seem to have housed its inhabitant for many, many years, providing a safe haven from more menacing sea creatures.

The variety of shell fragments is seemingly endless, and no two days' harvest is identical.  This morning it's a wealth of fragments, colors ranging from the most pristine white to a deep blue-grey.  A wide range of orange colors is evidenced on each shell fragment, in some cases simply a tiny fleck, in others, a stripe or a few.  The variety is so beautiful:  Smooth surfaces displaying subtle color differentiation; vertically ridged surfaces with horizontal ridges crossing them, reminiscent of a closely woven fabric intricately fashioned by God Himself.  One is mauve and white inside, with touches of gold, once a beautifully decorated home now deserted by its inhabitant.  My fingers move over the shell's smooth exterior like waves over the sunlit sand.

I scoop up a mottled grey shell, thick and gnarled. Its layers appear as though it were caught in accelerated cell division.  Ridged, capable of allowing smooth movement through the depths of the sea, I imagine its former swimmer inhabitant gliding flawlessly with the current, following its destiny.  Where did it go?  What even caused it to disengage from its shell?  And what was the event that caused its shell to become fragmented?  We cannot know, only God knows.

Each shell is sculpted beautifully by God's pure intention and sense of form.  Each displays its color with flawless integrity and boldness.  No two shells are alike.  Each is uniquely crafted, as we are each uniquely crafted.  Only God knows the designated path that the sea creature will take, as He knows the path we each will take.  But I can ponder the events that have brought this layered grey specimen to my feet this morning, and once again thank God for life abundant knowing that I, we, as all sea creatures, rest in His hand.

No two days are identical

Day 3:  The blue, cloudless sky is reflected in the water below.  Waves forcefully build to a thunderous crescendo before crashing onto the shore, leaving their sea foam behind as the rip tide rushes back into the depths, carrying the few seashell fragments with them.  The abundance of seashell fragments scattered across this long stretch of beach yesterday is nowhere to be found this morning.  No two days are identical.

Cold, clear rivulets stream from under huge boulders of sea coral permanently beached, immovable, now sculptural fixtures on the beach landscape.  Each new wave crashes over the sea coral boulders, leaving behind a puddle at the boulder's base from which the rivulet flows.

The wooden beach access allows no access.  A tropical storm has caused high tide for several days, and the bottom stairs of wooden access structures have been broken off and carried out to sea.  Waves hurl themselves over the remaining lower rungs of the staircase and reach the dunes.  No walking on the beach sand is possible here.

I return to my car and drive a quarter of a mile up the beach to another access.  Here I find that the water level is lower, and the access stairs are intact.  The roar and bellows of the sea call to me . A wide stretch of sandy beach beckons.  The wind is strong.  The sand stings the backs of my legs as it pushes me along my path.  Seashells are partially buried in the sand this morning.


God is so magnificent

Day 4:  I am aware that my lips taste salty.  The lure of the salty ocean breeze and the thunderous waves brought me here from my home in the north.  Captivated by the sights and sounds of the sea, I longed to be here, to be on the beach.  The magnificence of God is apparent in this place.  How big He is.  He created all this.  How small I feel by comparison.  Priorities are made clear here.  Worries cease.  All care is gone leaving only my creator and myself, here, together.  I am nourished.  I am refreshed.  The effect is the same, day after day.

The sea mist rises from the crest of each wave, splashing upward as if in praise to the God of the heavens, to God…


Life begets life

Day 5:  Broken sea turtle eggshells abound.  Late one summer night a few weeks ago, I witnessed a huge, massive sea turtle emerging from the depths of the sea.  Lumbering up the beach to the dunes to dig a deep hole in the sand where she laid her eggs before returning to the sea, the top of her head glowed green from a light deep within her skull.  I realize that the sea turtles are coming full circle.  Life begets life.  That numerous infant sea turtles have hatched and scurried down the sand to the water is evidenced by the broken white turtle shell fragments scattered along the dunes edge.  New life has emerged, as it does each fall along this coast.  Permanent signage rises at beach access points proclaiming the protected status of these sea creatures.  Flashlights are forbidden on the beach at night.  Beachside hotel lights are dimmed.  Disturbance of the sea turtles or their eggs will be prosecuted.  Observing them from a distance, one stands in awe.  Sea turtles resemble sketches of prehistoric creatures only previously seen in books, but here, they come up out of the depths of the sea, to this place where they lay and bury their eggs. 


Be free

Day 6:  A sand crab, a tiny translucent beige creature with bulging black eyes that sit atop its head, runs sideways on the beach in front of me.  It makes its home deep inside a hole in the sand, and the hole can be seen from a short distance by the mound of sand piled up adjacent to it.  A wave washes over the hole where the tiny sand crab is busy digging its way out.  Instantly, the hole is covered with sand.  But as I watch for a moment, there is movement.  The sand is being hurled up and out once more.  Suddenly, the tiny crab scurries out of its hole and scampers sideways a few feet down the beach.  Then, startled, it scoots sideways back to its hole and quickly disappears inside.  Another wave breaks onto the shore, its force causing a rush of water toward the dunes, flowing over the sand crab's hole once more, and the repetition of the sand crab's activity continues.

Most of life is repetitive, ritualistic.  We repeat our movements day after day.  Sometimes, the faces change.  At other times, most notably while we are on vacation, the locations change.  But we are as sleepwalkers, going through the motions of life, day after day, unaware that God wants to free us from our monotonous, repetitive behaviors.  Be free, He calls from heaven.  Let me show you something new today.  Let me lead you and guide you.  Let me use your life for my glory.  Let me minister to others through you, today.


His story in the shells

Day 7:  I arrive earlier than usual at the beach this morning.  Seven o'clock.  The pink and orange light of the sun is just breaking at the horizon.  The tide is out and the sand is strewn with shells, many of them large and intact.  What a sight!  Where to begin looking at them.  I breathe it all in.  Then, slowly, I begin to look about me as one glistening shell after another catches my eye.  Exhilarated, I pick up a shell, turn it in my hand, and scrutinize it.  Then, discarding it for another, I repeat the process over and over again, keeping this one, discarding that one, until my pockets are brimming and heavy.  Finally, after walking a mile or so in each direction from the access stairs, I return and sit down on the steps, taking the shells out of my pockets and looking them over once more.  Sorting through them, I painstakingly determine that only the most unique shell will go home with me.  That one perfect shell that tells the entire story of life.  But that one perfect shell is not there.  Of all the shells before me, not one embodies the entire story of life… for it is in the variety, the diversity, that the story of life is told.  No one specimen is able to express all of life.  It takes all the shells to tell the story… as it takes all of us to tell our story… His story.  

Small fish are jumping out of the high, breaking waves.  It's as though they are jumping with joy, and I feel happy as I watch them.  I meticulously line up my shells along the edge of the steps.  Perhaps after the tide comes in later this morning and such shells are nowhere to be found, these shells will delight the next beachcomber.  Perhaps, through these shells, that beachcomber will catch a glimpse of His story…

 © 2004 Carol L. Taylor

         The Atlantic Coast where I live.

          Sea Beans and Ais Native American Chert Spearhead (500-1000 years
            old that I found on my beach.
            L to R: Sea Hearts, Hamburger Beans, Starnut Palm, Sea
             Pearls, Small Ear Pod, and Ais Native American 

 October 23, 2010 - Attended the 15th Annual Sea Bean Symposium in Cocoa Beach today with Sephron,  it's a tradition. This event is always very interesting, but the most exciting aspect today was that I learned that the Native American Chert Spearhead that I found on the beach several years ago is authentic Ais Indian, and that it is 500 - 1000 years old! It is shown here with part of my sea bean collection. A favorite are the brown hamburger beans (2nd. row from left).
For information regarding Sea Beans, see: http://www.seabean.com/what.asp

         Remnant of a Jellyfish Found on the Beach after 
Tropical Storm Nicole, 
          September 29. 2010

       The Beach During Tropical Storm Nicole, September 29, 2010

       Tropical Storm Nicole - Bird on the Beach, September 29, 2010

Sea Glass is so amazingly beautiful... a joy to find on the beach.


Aquatic Images

Canoes, Huron River, Arboretum, Ann Arbor, Michigan

 Munising, Michigan Waterfalls

Stepping Stone Falls, Flint River, Flint, Michigan

Yellowstone National Park